What do a Texas cheerleader, a parking lot attendant, OnSmash.com, and the founders of Pirate Bay have in common? If you guessed "alleged or actual criminals" you are correct!
The Department of Homeland Security and ICE are continuing to Protect Our Freedoms, Keep America Safe and Secure Our Borders by shutting down over eighty sites devoted to movie piracy , illegal file-sharing, and the sale of knockoff handbags . They also may have accidentally shut down the popular site OnSmash.com even though artists gave them tracks in question for promotional purposes, and Kanye West has approvingly linked to the site.
On Tuesday, Justin Bieber uploaded his own video to his own personal YouTube site only to find that it was automatically blocked on copyright grounds.
After expressing disappointment on his Twitter account, Bieber (or his handlers) moved the video to his Facebook page. Facebook, as we know, has a cavalier attitude towards the privacy of its users so it kind of makes sense that there are also casual protections in place for copyrighted material.
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On Wednesday, lots of stuff happened! First, everyone on the Supreme Court but Alito (Alito?!) decided that it's your own fault if you're too clueless or underage to really know what you're doing when you download files illegally. The "innocent infringer" offense was rejected, meaning that Whitney Harper now owes $750 per song she downloaded when she was between the ages of 14 and 16. Pros: the maximum penalty is $30,000 per song. So it could have been a lot worse. Cons: she owes it to Madonna's label, Maverick Records. Let's hope that she at least doesn't owe it for downloading Wank.
Then, opening arguments began for a former parking lot attendant who is facing up to ten years in jail for modifying an Xbox. The trial came to a half because the judge yelled at the government's lawyers for a half hour because he really "doesn't know what we're doing here" . Then he suggested that the government's witnesses might have also committed crimes because one of them admitted to modifying Xboxes. Except he did it in college, which was presumably before the U.S. became a surveillance state and decided it was important to collect asinine data about the everyday activities of law-abiding American citizens. Which is why he got away with it.
Also, the founders of Pirate Bay, who owe millions of dollars and may spend anywhere from four to ten months in prison, are planning to appeal the latest verdict in their ongoing trial for copyright infringement.
Finally, a lawyer offering affordable consulting fees to people accused of copyright infringement faced sanctions because of complaints filed by a fancy law firm, but then that fancy law firm was threatened with a suit that accused them of racketeering. I'm no lawyer, but it appears as though they could deserve it.