Twitter has suspended the account of Sci-Hub, a site that offers a free gateway to paywalled research. The site is accused of violating the counterfeit policy of the social media platform. However, founder Alexandra Elbakyan believes that this is an effort to silence the growing support amidst a high profile court case in India.
Hundreds of non-commercial Nintendo fangames have been removed from the popular game publishing community Game Jolt after the platform complied with several DMCA takedown requests. Many of the affected games have dedicated fanbases including many die-hard Nintendo fans, some of whom now seem eager to revolt.
People have been playing board games for thousands of years. The Royal Game of Ur, which originated in Mesopotamia more than 4,500 years ago, is reportedly still played in Iraq.1 (Game equipment has been found that predates the Royal Game of Ur by as much as 900 years, but the rules to those games have been lost to history.2)
In the modern era, though venerable games like chess and backgammon remain popular, many people associate the phrase “board games” with established staples such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland. More complex strategic games have been generally relegated to hobbyists and niche gamers, such as war gamers, who enact historical or fictional battles using cardboard chits or miniature figures on map boards. However, in recent years, there has been a rising tide of new board games being developed, marketed, sold, and played around the world. In 2013, board games accounted for more than $1.8 billion in sales in the United States, out of a $22 billion domestic toy market.3 These sales figures, while dwarfed by the size of the video game industry, are quite respectable and suggest that board games have become a mainstream source of entertainment. Digital and mobile versions of board games are also becoming quite common.
As a result of this transition from “kid stuff” and fringe hobby to mainstream entertainment, board game developers and publishers have found themselves facing intellectual property (IP) issues with increasing frequency. Lawsuits or threats of legal action—especially at the interface between offline and digital board gaming—are not uncommon. Message boards frequented by gamers and game makers contain questions such as “I am making a game; how can I prevent someone else from copying it?” and “I am making a game that is similar to Game X; how can I avoid getting in trouble for copying?” Board games occupy a nexus of the three primary forms of intellectual property protection—copyright, trademark, and patent—so these questions are not always easily answered.
While uploading pirated content has always been illegal, the new law is quite specific in that it criminalizes the downloading of unlicensed content. While that could take place in a simultaneous upload environment such as BitTorrent, it seems most likely that people will obtain content from websites instead.
That presents some roadblocks to enforcement so we asked Ina how, from a technical perspective, will the authorities track, obtain evidence, and prosecute people who simply download content (comics, movies, music etc) to their machines but don’t distribute?
“The authorities shall use digital forensic technologies to track suspects’ activities and collect evidence. The details of such technologies have not been publicly available,” he explained.
“There are certain special units specialized in cyber crimes in each prefecture. For example, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own Cyber Crime Control Unit. But the police do not investigate unless the person commits the crime repeatedly, intentionally and maliciously, i.e. innocent light downloaders shall not be prosecuted.”
Convicted copyright troll lawyer Paul Hansmeier is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. However, that hasn’t stopped him from going after pirates. With help from an investigator, he recently published an adult video on the torrent site Bootytape.com to track down the IP-address of an alleged pirate.
YouTube says it has found a “smoking gun” to prove that a class-action lawsuit filed by Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider and Pirate Monitor Ltd was filed in bad faith. According to the Google-owned platform, the same IP address used to upload ‘pirate’ movies to the platform also sent DMCA notices targeting the same batch of content.
A mass copyright-trolling scheme in Denmark is at risk of boiling over into criminal action against the companies involved. After hundreds of cases against alleged pirates were kicked out over recent months due to the plaintiffs having no right to sue, a court has warned that the campaign may be threatening Danes’ legal security.
The freeware version has since been decompiled and used to create a range of fan-made projects, including the Cave Story Engine 2, which allows users to create their own versions of the game.
However, the Cave Story Engine 2 GitHub repo has been taken down after Nicalis issued a DMCA, claiming the project uses the source code of its own version of Cave Story.
Various fan developers, and even some notable industry professionals such as Rami Ismail, have decried this move via Twitter, believing anything based off the freeware version to be outside Nicalis’ rights.
It is undoubtedly true that youtube-dl is used to download copyrighted work out from under its technological protections, but it is not at all clear that is the dominant use for the tool. Given that YouTube and other sites have vast arrays of user-uploaded content that is not subject to the same restrictions as the RIAA’s precious content, any tool to access it will need to be able to use those sites in ways that are outside of the web-based interaction provided. Since there are also good reasons why people might want to view these videos in ways that RIAA members have not envisioned—or countenanced—any useful tool will need to be able to decode all of the different formats provided by the platforms. As with all tools, youtube-dl can be used in many different ways, some that even the RIAA might find to be acceptable.
Copyrights exist in order to protect authors of documentation or software from unauthorized copying or selling of their work. A copyright infers that only with the author’s permission may such activities take place.
A Copyleft, on the other hand, provides a method for software or documentation to be modified, and distributed back to the community, provided it remains Libre.
In the case of Libre Documentation, an author can place his or her copyright into the document, and use distribution terms, such as those in the GNU Free Documentation License, which gives everyone the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the code, but only if those distribution terms remain unchanged. This ensures that the source code and the freedoms are legally inseparable. This is known as “copyleft”.
If a program or document was uncopyrighted and in the public domain, changes could be made and the program or document could be re-distributed as a proprietary product. The copyleft ensures that not only is the original source free, but that all modifications must be made free, and permission is granted for all who follow in modifying that same program or document, provided they abide by these terms.
Applying a free software or free documentation license to an application or document qualifies the product as Libre, and protects the open source community at large from it becoming commercial or proprietary.