2009 – A ZeroPaid Year In Review – Part 3 of 3

We wrap things up with the last third of 2009. Part one. Part 2.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes


September started off with the continuation of the Jammie Thomas trial where Thomas appealed her $80,000 fine. Amongst other arguments, the fine seemed to be arbitrarily selected.

After a ThePirateBay Mixtape of all the songs Joel Tenenbaum was fined for, an RIAA lawyer took the unusual step of saying that the mixtape was all Joels fault.

France was, of course, back in the headlines in the month when the French Pirate Party had a shot at winning a parliamentary seat, further bolstering the international parties success on the international stage. No doubt, the Pirate Party in that country was able to get some support on the issue of Three Strikes law which, after a few bungled attempts, managed to produce the oddly titled “France Passes Three Strikes Law for Second Time”. Regardless of the French Pirate Party’s growing success, it seemed that the inevitable happened where France adopted their three strikes law.

Tension in Australia over the governments so-called “voluntary-mandatory” internet filter continued when opposition parties wanted to end the farce altogether. In response to some of the criticisms, a minister said that he never wanted to filter p2p traffic.

More news in Ireland happened when one Irish ISP decided to block ThePirateBay.

In the UK, the British government made it official that they supported the three strikes legislation, saying it was an “evolved” plan. The UK ISPs were quick to denounce the move. In a show of even more solidarity against the three strikes law, UK musicians quickly denounced the three strikes law as well. In case there were artists still skeptical about those who are against the three strikes law, a UK consultant said that artists shouldn’t really worry about internet piracy in the first place. Distraught by all those artists arguing against a three strikes law in the UK, the major music labels tried to argue that all artists were united in supporting a three strikes law.

In a rather humorous and ironic moment in September, Sony BMG faced a near repeat of the lawsuit against it for software piracy in France and were accused of a textbook definition of music piracy in Mexico. No doubt the company was once again embarrassed given their stance on piracy in the first place, but it lent credence to the theory that it’s often the case that the biggest complainers to a problem are also often the biggest culprits as well.

Doubts continued with the acquisition of ThePirateBay when GGF was delisted from the Swedish stock exchange. Keeping ThePirateBay accessible for all was under attack, but one Swedish ISP did appeal a court order to block the website. Shortly afterwords, GGF, trying to salvage some credibility, managed to get re-listed in the Swedish stock exchange. Unfortunately, the news was followed up by even more bad news for the buyer when they faced court over unpaid debt. On the legal front, something happened during ThePirateBay trial that few thought was possible, the major record companies and the admins agreed on something – specifically that there were questions to be raised over a judges affiliation affecting his judgment. Admins for ThePirateBay later appealed the decision that the judge was not biased in his guilty verdict citing even more bias from the three judges on the panel.

The Canadian Pirate Party in September was also able to give us a landmark interview when they were one step closer to becoming an official political party. By the end of the month, the party launched a BitTorrent tracker to show once again that there are legal uses for BitTorrent among other things.


October started off with the continued, at least for many observers, circus of the acquisition of ThePirateBay. After creating a deadline for the acquisition of the BitTorrent site, the deadline came and went without a purchase. Google also wound up in a bit of controversy when it temporarily removed search results, then re-instated them again. Then, after, once again, failing to get ThePirateBay removed from the internet, the major entertainment industry corporations tried to get, what was described as, the websites ISPs ISP to block access to the website – obviously without much success again. Then, after all the ups and downs, GGF themselves finally admitted that the acquisition of ThePirateBay was “uncertain”. After that fiasco, the legal front for ThePirateBay got even more heated when BREIN was caught forging evidence against the site. Meanwhile, the trial against ThePirateBay was delayed until the Summer of 2010 – putting a halt on the whole trial, no doubt, to the dismay of the copyright industry. Meanwhile in the Netherlands, in spite of falsifying evidence against the admins of ThePirateBay, BREIN won a legal victory against the site. ThePirateBay, after seeing their first sale fall through, said that they were on the hunt for new buyers. Legal issues about the site then took a turn against them when a Swedish court said that the site must be shut down or else the admins faced additional fines.

Not satisfied with a three strikes law, the UK music industry demanded that “illegitimate” p2p sites be filtered as well. Sometime later in the month, a petition surfaced online that would get the government to legalize non-profit P2P activity. Seems like it was just another sign that UK citizens were unhappy about the governments “evolved” plan as well. That was not to say the entire government was on board for a three strikes law though as 21 MPs some time later in the month announced their opposition to the three strikes law; they called it a futile attempt to disconnect pirates. A British ISP also showed further evidence that the three strikes law was ill-conceived by showing just how easy it was to piggy-back WiFi. Ideologies also collided in the country when the major music business argued that The Pirate Party’s idea of a 5 year copyright term would undermine the whole industry. The three strikes debate then roared back in to headlines when a poll conducted with Open Rights Group suggested that 73% of British citizens believed that a three strikes law would harm use of vital services – as if there needed to be more evidence on how many people oppose the law, but further proof was there. It seemed that something happened within the government – whether it was public pressure or France having to legislate that the third strike would be issued by a judge is unclear – as they said that a third strike would be issued by a judge. That didn’t stop Britain’s top spies from denouncing the three strikes law because they argued that it would fuel online anonymity, thus making it harder to spy on people over the internet. Opposition only continued to mount against the three strikes law when MPs argued that an internet connection is considered an essential service.

Spain made it into the headlines again in October when the government was set to establish an anti-p2p commission.

France, of course, was also in the headlines, but the first headline of the month to come out of the country was definitely an ironic one. The story described the French presidency accused of pirating a DVD. This would make the governing party a repeat copyright infringer of all things. Nothing much happened for a while though until later that month when France’s top court approved of the modified three strikes law where the third strike would be issued by a judge.

In the US, there was finally a resolution for ASCAPs controversial attempt to get performance royalties for ring tones. A judge killed the attempt by ruling that a ring tone is not a public performance.

The whole European Union also made headlines in October when they stunningly did an about-face and gave an OK to disconnect alleged file-sharers.


November started rather differently with a story that seemed to have eluded headlines for a while – ACTA. It was revealed that ACTA would bring in a global DMCA and a three strikes law. After facing severe pressure all around the world to have ACTA transparent once and for all, the MPAA hit the panic button and said that criticisms about ACTAs transparency were merely a “distraction”. Later on, an additional leak from the elusive treaty confirmed everyone’s worst fears.

Spain’s government said that they wouldn’t implement a three strikes law.

Norway made headlines when a court ruled that ISPs couldn’t be forced to block ThePirateBay. Sometime later, startling news emerged when an artist was told by a royalty group that they were forbidden from uploading their own work to ThePirateBay.

Interestingly enough, the United Nations also weighed in on the copyright debate by saying that jailing teenagers for p2p was not the answer.

After managing to get a three strikes law in place, South Korea’s copyright industry said that p2p must be filtered.

ThePirateBay made headlines pretty much every month of the year so far, and November was no exception. After the ISPs ISP of ThePirateBay was ordered to shut off access to the site, that entity then appealed the order. Shortly afterwords, a monumental shift from within the site occurred where all torrents were dropped completely and p2p users were directed to magnet links instead (which were compatible with all the popular clients by that time).

MiniNova also made headlines when it announced that they were going legit. User then left the site for more attractive alternatives.

ISOHunt also made headlines when it filed claims against CRIA in self defense.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a very symbolic study was released which showed that artists made more money in a p2p world. It also showed that record labels may be the only entities in the entire business that were actually losing money. Shortly after the study was released, the UK government appeared to be bolder by modifying their three strike law plan and turning it into a two strikes law. British ISPs understandably raised more concern by saying that these types of laws would undermine the digital economy in Britain.

In the US, Fox argued that the US should disconnect file-sharers just like France (with their three strikes law where a judge orders the third and final disconnection).


The year is almost out, but just because the year is wrapping up doesn’t mean the news would do the same thing.

In Spain, the copyright wars started to really heat up when the Spanish government signaled that it planned on toughening up copyright laws. Late in the month, Spain mulled shutting down P2P sites without a court order.

In the UK, copyright issues remained red hot when tech giants urged the government to remove a clause in the reform that would force spying on users even if no illegal activity was occurring. British ISPs, in the mean time, reaffirmed that they were against the proposed three strikes law. Adding fuel to the fire, it was discovered that the UKs three strikes law would cost $800 Million per year.

France, in the mean time, made headlines again. For a third time, France’s governing party was caught infringing on copyrighted material. Many observers argued that maybe the French governing party should be disconnected from the internet considering that they were busted a third time for copyright infringement.

ACTA also made headlines when one ambassador implausibly argued that people would walk away from the table if ACTA were to be divulged. Of course, the controversy surrounding the so-called agreement sparked a coalition in New Zealand which aimed to disseminate information about the negotiation and the agreement. Coincidentally, after a few days, New Zealand political parties demanded answers on ACTA.

New Zealand made headlines for other reasons – like their three strikes law moving ahead for instance.

Canada made it into headlines in the biggest way it could. CRIA, an arm of the RIAA, was sued for a historic $6 Billion in damages for not paying artists for selling their music. Regardless of the fact that the case was merely filed, the damage was very apparent with pretty much whatever credibility they had left on copyright related issues pretty much eradicated. It was news that was so big, the owner of a record store wondered why he was being investigated for piracy for having a mere couple hundred CDs without bar codes while CRIA, an “expert witness”, stood accused of pirating hundreds of thousands of works. That didn’t stop CETA, another ACTA essentially, from rearing its ugly head though.

Australia made headlines again in December over, you guessed it, it’s controversial filtering plan. This time, the Australian government revealed their plans for internet filtering. Unfortunately, the Christian lobby signaled that the filtering plan didn’t go far enough. Sometime later, a parody news site made a very humorous article making fun of the Australian governments attempt to filter the internet.

China also made headlines in December when it shut down BitTorrent sites allegedly over porn.

In the Netherlands, BREIN attempted to ban UseNet discussions claiming that what went on in UseNet was simply criminal.

Israel made headlines interestingly enough. Apparently, the most comprehensive study on the subject concluded that Israeli ISPs do, in fact, throttle p2p. The revelation sparked officials to note that the ISPs could face legal action for the activity.

Chile made headlines in December when it resisted American calls to filter the internet.

Back overseas to the US, major copyright industry representatives decided to meet with White House officials to discuss copyright issues. After much criticism, the MPAA were forced onto the defencive. The MPAA answered criticism that they were secretly negotiating without all stakeholders involved by saying that anyone could set up a meeting with US reps too if they so desired. Interestingly enough, an American court also ruled that Canadian site ISOHunt was liable for copyright infringement. How that affects things for the site overall is unclear.

The Joel Tenenbaum case made headlines, though people’s viewpoints had since changed. While the Harvard law professor appealed the case questions were being raised on his performance in the trial. Quite a change considering that toward the beginning, many considered the lawyer and professor a hero – that viewpoint has since started to waiver.

Google was caught up in another copyright case. It seems that having a formal DMCA system where if a result contained infringing material, rights holders can request that the results be removed. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for one record label which sued the search giant for copyright infringement along with several other companies in the search industry.

What year would be complete without the usual headline of the MPAA enjoying record breaking profits again? Even better, the MPAA made profit records not once, but twice.

To 2010 and Beyond!

Where things go from here is unknown. Will 2010 be just as eventful? That much is unknown, but if the past is anything to go by, chances are, many things will happen this year in the world of p2p and tech as well. For now, keep tuned in to ZeroPaid as we get ready to roll on a brand new year. It could be a bumpy ride. We hope you enjoyed the review. Thanks for reading.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: