May 022014

Spain’s Lower House of Parliament gave its approval for the General Telecommunications Act earlier this week

Spanish government to ensure that the entire population has access to broadband speeds of 10Mbps within the next three years (i.e. by 2017). Looking further ahead, by 2020 all Spaniards are expected to have access to 30Mbps connectivity, while at that date at least half of the nation should be able to sign up for a service offering 100Mbps downlink rates. Alongside this, the state has also said it will collaborate with the country’s autonomous communities in order to ensure that all schools, universities, libraries and health centres have 30Mbps access by 2016, and 100Mbps by 2020.

Mar 292014

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on Thursday, March 27, that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Europe can legally block piracy sites that illegally distribute copyright-protected material.

The European court ruled on a case brought back in June 15, 2012 before the Austrian Supreme Court, which asked the ECJ to interpret European copyright law.

Distributors Constantin Film Verleih and Wega-Filmproduktionsgesellschaft took legal action against Austrian cable operator UPC Telekabel Wien for not blocking access to, at the time the largest piracy site in German-speaking countries.

Although the Austrian courts stated that UPC Telekabel should block access to the site, which was closed down in 2011 following police action, UPC Telekabel argued that blocking measures could be evaded by downloaders and would be “excessively costly”.

UPC Telekabel argued that it did not have any business relationship with the operators of the piracy site and it was never established that its own customers acted unlawfully.

The ECJ concluded in its judgment that a “person who makes protected subject-matter available to the public on a website without the agreement of the right holder is using the services of the business which provides internet access to persons accessing that subject-matter.

Thus, an ISP, such as UPC Telekabel, which allows its customers to access protected subject-matter made available to the public on the internet by a third party is an intermediary whose services are used to infringe a copyright.

The Court notes, in that regard, that the directive, which seeks to guarantee a high level of protection of rights holders, does not require a specific relationship between the person infringing copyright and the intermediary against whom an injunction may be issued. Internet users and also, indeed, the ISP must be able to assert their rights. It is a matter for the national authorities and courts to check whether those conditions are satisfied.”

Until now, courts in various countries have reached different verdict in similar cases, with the UK and Ireland among the countries that take action to block piracy sites, while in The Netherlands, the Court of The Hague has lifted the Pirate Bay blockade.

Meanwhile, various trade organisations from the music and movie industry have applauded the ECJ ruling including the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).

The full ruling by the ECL can be found on the Court’s website.


Nov 092013

A man who streamed English Premier League matches live across the internet has been jailed for a couple of years by the Sheffield Crown Court. The fellow, named Kevin Broughton, apparently got a little greedy as he was charging viewers up to £29.99 for a season to watch the matches online. This isn’t a bad little earner when you consider he had about 10,000 customers. This works out to a cool £299,000 a year .

The games he streamed originated from Sky and of course this is a no-no since the television company has the exclusive rights to show the matches. The Premier League found out about Broughton’s illegal activities and filed an official complaint with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) back in January of 2012.

The organization looked into the matter as did the East Midlands Police and this spelled bad news for the 30-year-old Broughton and he ended up facing various fraud-related charges. Investigators found he had been stashing the subscription money in an offshore bank account down in Belize.

FACT said criminals are running profitable and sophisticated illegal online operations and stated, “We continue to work to protect our members’ intellectual property and to ensure that they can continue to invest in exciting new ways to watch sports, films and television programs.”