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Sony Filed Copyright Claim Against Man They Licensed Content From

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The arrogance of large corporations is occasionally beyond description. Mitch Martinez created some stock footage and licensed it to Sony Music Entertainment. Then, later, when he uploaded the same footage onto YouTube, he got a copyright notice. About his own content.

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The debacle that followed was interesting. Here is the original footage that Martinez posted on YouTube, which Sony tagged as belonging to them and caused the issues:

It wasn’t Sony directly, not exactly. It was Epic Records, which is a division of Sony Music Entertainment. One of their artists, Transviolet, used the footage above as the background for the music video of their song “Bloodstream.”

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About two months after Martinez put the footage on YouTube, he received a complaint from the automated Content ID system. This writer can personally attest that companies regularly take advantage of this system, even occasionally tagging public domain music and profanely telling users that they have no right to use it. In this writer’s case, the matter was resolved within a day, as he was able to provide a link to the fact that the music in question belonged to the Commons.

But the truly interesting part of that episode was that the record label was able to tag the content in the first place. Shouldn’t they have to prove that it belongs to them? After all, YouTube wouldn’t have survived the court system if they hadn’t developed the Content ID system. Nevertheless, it would seem that they could get into even more trouble by wrongly allowing music labels and studios to profit from content which did not belong to them.

Martinez wasn’t as lucky as this writer. Martinez says that this wasn’t the first time his own footage had been identified as belonging to someone else. However, in previous instances, the matter was resolved quickly.

It’s happened before – but as noted above, this has always been very quickly resolved with a notification to the person or company I had issued the license agreement.

copyrightMartinez did what he was supposed to do, and informed YouTube that the claim was invalid. He also went outside of YouTube and e-mailed the person he’d licensed the content to after he searched his records and eventually came upon the license he’d given Epic Records. What happened next should be scary to all content creators. The company doubled down on its claim, and YouTube said that if the company continued to make the claim, Martinez’s account could receive a strike.

When he received no response, he justifiably escalated the situation. He filed a copyright claim against the “Bloodstream” video, being that in the terms of the license, he specifically retained copyright. And now the company was hassling him about it. What would anyone do in that situation? This was enough to get the attention of someone at Epic’s legal department.

A day later, I received contact from a person at Epic Records’ legal department. The voicemail acknowledged that there might be some sort of issue but he had no idea about the details. […] On the subsequent calls, the person in Epic legal acknowledged that the footage was, in fact, my footage and thanked me for allowing them to use the footage. That’s a win for my side of things. […] I provided him all of the information again – including the fact that the footage they claimed copyright to was created and uploaded to my YouTube account almost a full two years prior to me issuing a license agreement to Epic/Sony and the upload of their video. The call ended with him saying he was going to review the license agreement I issued and get back to me.

But then, Martinez won. The legal department lackey got back to him and confirmed that the footage belonged to him. The copyright claim was dropped. But Martinez, being wise to the antics of large media companies, asked if they had yet complied with his own copyright claim. They’d decided not to do so, and he insisted. They were reluctant to do so, and so they asked if there was any way to resolve the issue without changing the video. He told them that they would have to put a link to his video in the video, and at this they were slow to respond, saying it wasn’t in their department. But then:

Early the following week, I was credited in the video and my website was linked. This case was finally closed.

The Internet was in many ways intended to empower the average person to have a chance in a world where mostly everything is boiled down to conglomerates like Sony Entertainment. The Web 2.0 routinely sees such companies abusing their gravitas in order to push out the competition. The default position is too often that if you’re not a major company, you’re wrong. Copyright in the 21st century is more confusing than ever, and it will be interesting to see how long it is before a system that benefits all content creators more than it does major corporations is put into place.

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Eidoo Ethereum Wallet Takes Out Full Page Ad in WSJ to Troll J.P. Morgan

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A Swiss-based Ethereum startup has taken out a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal to troll J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who only last month called cryptocurrency a “fraud.”

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Eidoo Launches Digital Wallet

Eidoo took out the ad on Wednesday, the same day it launched its digital currency wallet for users of Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. The company also plans to launch a debit card allowing people to spend ether and bitcoin.

The WSJ ad, which is a clear PR stunt ahead of the company’s launch, reads: “Maybe Jamie will fire you. But, you’ll be free to trade in the crypto-world.”

J.P. executive Jamie Dimon came under fire last month after declaring bitcoin a fraud. It later came to light that the Wall Street bank is trading bitcoin for clients.

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“It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed,” Dimon said at a conference hosted Barclays. “Currencies have legal support. It will blow up.”

Dimon’s criticism was ill timed, and not just because his firm was facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. Well-known figures on Wall Street and beyond are starting to embrac blockchain technology. Chief among them is Goldman Sachs, which recently announced that it i considering a bitcoin trading operation.

Morgan Stanley CEO recently said cryptocurrency is “more than just a fad,” but didn’t disclose any plans to launch a trading operation. Like other banks? Morgan Stanley is exploring the potential of blockchain applications.

Cryptocurrency Market Regains Momentum

After a volatile month of September, the cryptocurrency asset class is once again attracting strong bids. The total market cap for all digital currencies is approaching $155 billion, with bitcoin accounting for more than half the total.

Ethereum briefly traded above $310 before paring gains all the way back down to $300 where it currently sits.

Digital currency wallets like Eidoo have grown in popularity as investors look to safeguard their tokens from cyber breaches.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Wants Augmented and Virtual Reality Tech to “Encourage” Human Contact

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So far, Apple has been the slowest of the big boys to getting an augmented or virtual reality product to market. The company’s iPhone is the single most popular smart phone on the planet and its computer products enjoy relative popularity (in early 2014, they were almost 9% of the market, a quadrupling from turn-of-the-century numbers). On a trip to Tokyo this week, CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed that he believes there is “no substitute for human contact. And so you want the technology to encourage that.”

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Tim Cook

Cook also said he thinks augmented reality can be “huge.” And if the numbers from the recent phenomenon of Pokémon Go are any indication, he’s absolutely right. Apple’s various platforms add up to a big opportunity, but their phones in particular could pave the way for the company making a serious play in the augmented and virtual reality space.

In many ways, modern humans are already experiencing many of the things previously only dreamed of in science fiction. One can walk down the street and have a video call with someone a thousand miles away. Perhaps the next step on this path will be the spectre of hologram calls. Back in 2013, Skype told the BBC that it was already capable of as much. Apple would certainly make waves if it were the first major platform to make this Star Wars-esque technology an everyday reality.

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Other potential exists on the hologram front. Video entertainment and gaming could reach a whole new level. The Apple TV is one of the less successful ventures the company has ever launched, but the advent of holographic television shows taking place in one’s living room might revive interest.

Apple store logo sign

Apple has made a number of acquisitions that point in the direction of holographic, augmented, and virtual reality technology. The company which created the original Microsoft Xbox Kinect sensors, PrimeSense, is now owned by Apple, along with Faceshift, who provided real-time motion capturing for Star Wars productions. The two main reasons to acquire a company are either to stop it from competing with you or to make use of its assets, and Apple presently has no major dog in the augmented reality/virtual reality fight. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that somewhere in Cupertino, someone is working on something for the future.

Cook also said that he doesn’t think virtual reality is as “broad-based” as augmented reality. The company has been in meetings with immersive technology companies such as Jaunt, a company which makes films compatible with virtual reality technology. Cook seems most interested in the communication aspect of AR and VR, saying that conversations could be made more productive.

I think that things like these are better when they’re incorporated without becoming a barrier to our talking. You want the technology to amplify it, not to be a barrier.

Perhaps Cook, like many, fears a future of people walking around with helmets, totally immune to their surroundings, and would rather find ways to boost traditional communication and technological capabilities. More of a Google Glass than an Oculus approach to the thing, as it were. In any case, it does seem that virtual reality, augmented reality, and even holographic communications are just around the bend for consumers.

It’s important to remember that just a decade ago, a smart phone in every pocket was hard to imagine, so the rise of these technologies could happen faster than anyone expects. The success of Pokémon Go was only a preview of things to come.

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KickassTorrents Domains Seized, Alleged Owner Arrested

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 The world’s largest torrent website has been seized, with its alleged founder arrested by US authorities, in what is a comprehensive blow to the domain and the wider torrenting community.

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Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old Ukrainian national and the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, the largest torrent website in the world was arrested in Poland yesterday. The US Government is seeking his extradition.

Following his arrest, US authorities have charged Vaulin with criminal copyright infringement and have seized multiple domain names associated with the website.

The complete list of charges are:

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  • One count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement
  • One count of conspiracy to commit money laundering
  • Two counts of criminal copyright infringement

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R.Caldwell made the announcement, revealing that Vaulin had set up servers in multiple locations around the world and moved his domains several times due to several law enforcement seizures and lawsuits.

He stated:

Vaulin is charged with running today’s most illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.

The criminal complaint against Vaulin alleges some intriguing numbers behind the world’s most popular torrent website.

  • The website gained over 50 million unique visitors per month.
  • It was also the 69th most frequently visited website on the internet
  • Its net worth is estimated at over $54 million.
  • Its annual advertising revenue was in the range of $12.5 million to $22.3 million.
  • The website operated in nearly 28 languages.

Furthermore, the website was already ordered to be blocked by courts in various countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, the complaint alleged.

As things stand, KickassTorrents and a number of its domains, all of which can be found in its very own server-status page, are all offline and unreachable.

The arrest and the subsequent takedown is certain to leave a void in the torrent community, as KickassTorrents was even bigger in the popularity stakes than the Pirate Bay.

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