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Time Shifting

Time Shifting


A brief guide to time shifting

"Time shifting" is a legal term which initially referred to recording made of broadcasts such as television programs via VHS and Betamax tapes. However, in recent years more issues related to time shifting have emerged, including MP3 music files and the distribution of podcasts.

The major legal issue involved in time shifting concerns "fair use" law and the possibility of copyright infringement. These issues were first raised in a dispute between Universal Studios in its capacity as a producer of television programming and Sony in its capacity as the manufacturer of Betamax video recorders. A 1979 Supreme Court case between the two established the foundations of time shifting law. Universal Studios argued that the Betamax video recorder violated its copyright laws by giving consumers the right to reproduce and maintain their own copies of the programming. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sony, a ruling which was subsequently challenged, overturned and reversed yet again by the Supreme Court in 1984.

As a result, the right of consumers to engage in time shifting practices for their own convenience has been established. This does not mean that consumers may record broadcasts and resell the video tapes or DVDs of these for commercial profit or gain. Rather, time shifting law simply allows for consumers to record a program and view it at their own convenience.

The introduction of digital video recording (DVR) applications such as Tivo has also been deemed legally acceptable for consumers. However, time shifting law regarding the ability to skip advertisements has not yet been fully clarified. Some providers, such as satellite TV companies, have introduced DVR features allowing consumers to skip over advertising entirely when watching a program which has been recorded to their DVR. The legality of this service, for which an extra fee can be assessed, has been challenged by television broadcasters, who assert that this form of time shifting is a violation of their copyright. As of October 2012, the law in this area remains ambiguous.

In recent years, the emerging popularity of downloadable podcasts that can be played at the convenience of listeners has created a new set of issues related to time shifting. Since such podcasts are placed onto MP3 players, computers or other devices and played at the listener's convenience, the issue of how to charge for advertising and profit from them has been a matter of concern. However, the legality of podcasts and their relationship to time shifting law has not been challenged.

"Time shifting" can also refer to the practice of broadcasting television programming at different times. Some broadcasters offer different feeds for providers across the country tied to each time zone, while other broadcasters only offer one feed. This means, for example, that a television broadcast beginning at 8 pm on the east coast would begin at 5 pm on the west coast. Broadcasters have complete legal discretion in deciding what types of feeds to offer.


IPs Will Warn You before Downloading Pirated Content

IPs Will Warn You before Downloading Pirated Content

On October 18, 2012, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) announced that internet providers will start warning customers over the next two months if they are about to download pirated content.  The messages will repeatedly warn internet users in an attempt to stop the large amount of illegal downloads on the internet despite heavy recent sentences for some defendants.  

AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Cablevision, and Time Warner will start sending these messages in the next two months.  

If you try to download illegal content, the first alerts will appear educational.  The internet user will then have to notify their internet provider that they received the messages.  If the internet user still attempts to download copyrighted material, a warning containing “mitigation measures” will come next.  Each internet provider has their own mitigation measures, but some of the common measures include a review of the educational notices and even a slowed internet access speed.  

Although numerous reports stated a “six strikes and you’re out” policy, the termination policy is not part any internet provider’s Copyright Alert System.  Litigation may ensue though.  

The Copyright Alert Systems want to teach internet users how to access copyrighted content legally instead of punishing users who accidentally download pirated content.  The CCI admits the line between legal and illegal content is sometimes vague, so they’ve announced that a new CCI website will soon launch to help internet users learn about legal and illegal content on the web.  

CCI expects some errors during the first stages of the new Copyright Alert System, but they have a process that can easily detect and correct errors.  CCI is using a review program under the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to find and correct errors, and CCI stresses the fact that all information about internet users is kept confidential.  

Source: Center for Copyright Information

Medical Licensing Test Prep Company Owner Extradited

Medical Licensing Test Prep Company Owner Extradited

On November 5, 2012, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced that one of the owners of the test prep company, called Optima University, made her initial appearance in a New Jersey Court after she was extradited from Latvia.  She is accused of stealing licensing examination questions from the National Board of Medical Examiners that are currently used on medical licensing tests.  

The defendant’s name is Egija Kuka and she operated the business in Totowa, New Jersey with her former husband, Eihab Suliman.  Each of the defendants is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy.  Eihab Suliman is considered a fugitive.  

According to court documents, Optima University helped students prepare for the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).  The test is used to assess if international graduates from medical school are ready to practice medicine in the United States.  The test questions are copyrighted and are not allowed to be reproduced.  

On December 2, 2007, Kuka applied to take the USMLE in Milan, Italy, after she lied and said she graduated from the University of Oradea (a medical school in Romania).  She forged a diploma from the university along with a Certification of Identification Form.  

Kuka proceeded to take Steps 1 and 2 of the USMLE on April 7 and April 14 of 2008.  Video surveillance used for the test proved that Kuka used a small video recording device to record the questions that were displayed on the computer screen.  Kuka sat in on Step 1 again on May 28, 2008.  

Authorities conducted a search at Optima University on May 28, 2008 and found that the company was using the live questions recorded by Kuka.  She now faces 6 counts in the indictment, and she can receive up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.  

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

U.S. Government Attempts to Terminate ‘Rogue Websites’

U.S. Government Attempts to Terminate ‘Rogue Websites’

A new anti-piracy legislation was placed before the United States House of Representatives this week to deploy copyright law for the removal of ‘Rogue Websites’—domains who are alleged of infringing on other site’s intellectual property rights. 
Submitted on Wednesday, the Stop Online Piracy Act will be officially reviewed by the House Judiciary Committee on November 16th of this year. If approved, the legislation will enable organizations and individuals claiming copyright, to effectively impede any website they suspect of infringing their rights. 
To block a suspected infringer, the “copied” party would, under the new law, simply file complaints with advertisers, search engines, internet service providers and payment services, who would in turn, terminate doing business with the suspected site—a court ruling would not be necessary. 
Lawmakers behind the bill claim it would prevent online pirates and producers of counterfeit goods from taking advantage of the reputability and hard work of legitimate domains or companies. 
The bill’s mechanism to prevent digital thievery is being questioned by a number of tech companies and legislators, who feel the Act has the potential to egregiously violate a number of American rights. 

United States Government Pondering Changes to Copyright Laws

United States Government Pondering Changes to Copyright Laws

The United States Copyright Office quietly announced its priorities for 2012, which ironically—given the perfunctory reception—could bring powerful changes to the nation’s intellectual property laws. The priorities range from the way websites and blogs register perpetually-changing material for copyrights to the establishment of a new small claims circuit. If you feel your rights were violated want to learn more about copyright contact a copyright lawyer.

The significances outlined by the Copyright Office stem from the much-cogitated controversies surrounding Google’s effort to digitize libraries to disputes between cable carriers and broadcasters regarding transmission of T.V. signals. 

The following list represents a couple of highlights from the Copyright Office’s announcement:

• The Copyright Office is conducting a study concerning the development of alternative means for resolving copyright infringement claims when such issues involve limited amounts of monetary compensation. 

• The Copyright Office announced a new study regarding the registration of content disseminated online. The study will evaluate the registration process for websites that contain a number of contributors who constantly update the site with fresh content.


Copyright Forms

Copyright Forms


Two Members of the ‘IMAGiNE’ Group Sentenced

Two Members of the ‘IMAGiNE’ Group Sentenced

On November 2, 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that Willie Lambert of Pittston, PA, and Sean M Lovelady of Pomona, California were sentenced to prison for their participation in an online piracy group.  The group is called “IMAGiNE.”  

Lambert received 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and he was ordered to pay $449,514 in restitution.  Lovelady received 23 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and he was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution.  Each of the men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement.  

The IMAGiNE Group was a piracy ring that released copies of movies on the internet that were only in theatres.  

Court documents show that Lambert and Lovelady admitted to entering movies theaters with receivers and recording equipment in order to record the audio sounds of the movies—called “capping.”  After the two men received the audio content, they edited and synchronized the audio content with video that was illegally obtained as well.  The edited content was then submitted to the IMAGiNE Group and shared on the file sharing network.  

Two other co-defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement.  Jeramiah B. Perkins is scheduled for sentencing on January 3, 2013, and Gregory Cherwonik is scheduled for sentencing on November 29, 2012.  

The investigation was led by the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) through the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center located in Washington, D.C.  The IPR Center is one of the most important tools used by the federal government to target and fight criminal counterfeiting and piracy.  21 different agencies participate in the IPR Center.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask for the Eastern District of Virginia Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia with the Justice Department are in charge of prosecution.  

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Legal Aspects of File Sharing

Legal Aspects of File Sharing


Legal Aspects of File Sharing

File sharing is not specifically illegal in the United States, but transmitting copyrighted material is illegal, and a number of lawsuits have been brought forth since file sharing began on the internet.  Some of the first cases involved lawsuits connected with the file-sharing network Napster, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has brought thousands of lawsuits against individuals along with other petitioners in the United States. 

Examples of Online Copyright Infringement

The following types of online copyright infringement are often investigated and prosecuted:

·         putting MP3 files on the internet within a file-sharing network so other people can download the music

·         downloading unauthorized copies of copyrighted audio and video content, even if you don’t offer content to other users

·         joining a file-sharing network that is not authorized to distribute or make copies of music or video content

·         burning copyrighted CDs for your friends and peers

·         email copies of music or videos to people you know

How does the Government Prove Liability in Copyright Infringement?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the government needs to “prove that a defendant infringed a copyright willingly and for the purpose of commercial advantage or personal financial gain.”  These legal aspects of file sharing apply to the creators of a file-sharing network and individuals who download and share content. 

Even if the creators of the file-sharing network claim “willful blindness” about the content being distributed on their website, they are still liable for copyright infringement because they are profiting from the website and know that content is being shared.  Individuals are liable because they achieve personal financial gain by saving money after downloading the free, copyrighted content. 

Several operations have been launched by the federal government to impose the legal aspects of file sharing and bring individuals and websites that share files to justice.  One of the biggest operations was launched by the U.S. Department of Justice called “Operation Digital Gridlock.”  The operation resulted in the seizure of over 40 terabytes o pirated content. 

Liability of Distributing Pornography

File-sharing networks can result in a person unintentionally distributing pornography and even child pornography files.  The majority of file-sharing software is set up to automatically redistribute and make content available that was downloaded by a user.  So, if an individual accidentally downloads a pornographic file, these files can be redistributed without their knowledge and they are liable for distributing pornography.  Several cases were brought forth against affected defendants and resulted in heavy fines. 

Industry Self-Regulation

As legal aspects of file sharing have caused multiple lawsuits to occur, file sharing is still occurring at an unprecedented pace.  So, many internet providers have decided to start issue their own warnings.  In October and November of 2012, major internet providers have begun to issue warnings before users download pirated content.  There are a series of warnings, and prosecution is even threatened if downloading continues.  The major internet providers can even slow down internet connections if the user refuses to stop downloading pirated material. 

Source: https://www.ftc.gov/reports/p2p05/050623p2prpt.pdf