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First off today, Kathryn Dowling at the BBC reports that the three major record labels, Sony, Universal and Warner, had their first day in court with the Russian social networking site VKontakte (VK) over its alleged role in encouraging and enabling piracy in the country.
The three labels each sued the site individually but, after a series of delays, the cases were combined and had their first preliminary hearing, with full hearings expected to start September 8.
VK is the second most popular site in Russia and is known as a haven for pirated music files, so much so that the U.S. Trade Representative has called it out by name in its Special 301 report. The record labels are hoping to use new laws in Russia to force VK to remove all infringing files permanently.
Next up today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that Apple has approved a BitTorrent app for its app store, possibly the first in its history.
The app, entitled Blue Downloader, refers to itself as a “file downloader” and avoids saying that it is a BitTorrent app. Blue Downloader originally only allowed users to download sites from whitelisted trackers, including Archive.org, Linuxtracker and Bitlove. However, a recent update also allows users to find and download files via Google, meaning that all BitTorrent content, legal and illegal, is now available.
Apple has a long-standing policy of barring BitTorrent-based apps from its App Store, citing concerns over copyright infringement. Blue Downloader’s developer said that, he feels, BitTorrent is unfairly stigmatized but wanted to develop a BitTorrent app that would meet with Apple’s approval.
Finally today, Andy Chalk at PC Gamer reports that, following the backlash over some of its recent changes, Twitch has announced that it will add an “Appeal” button on copyright-flagged videos and is working to improve its muting system.
Twitch, a popular video-streaming site that focuses on video games, recently drew criticism for its implementation of audio-matching technology that would automatically mute audio that matched a library of professional music not authorized for streaming. Though Twitch said it would not implement the system on its livestreamed videos, just the videos available on demand, and would only mute the 30 seconds around the infringing audio, the plan still drew fire for being YouTube-like.
In response to that criticism, Twitch is adding the appeals button so that users who have legitimate use of the audio can have it restored. They are also said to be improving the muting so that less non-infringing content is muted. Nonetheless, Twitch insists that the audio matching is necessary and is here to stay.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.
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