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First off today, Claire Reilly at CNet reports that a group of researchers are targeting the Hola VPN service, saying that users should abandon it because it is insecure and can result in your Internet access being used for illegal activity.
Hola provides what it calls a free peer-to-peer virtual private network (VPN) as a means of protecting anonymity and allowing users to circumvent geographic restrictions on services like Netflix. While the service is free, the nature of the product is, while you are using other people’s connections to access services, others are using yours for the same purpose. The service also sells access to user connections through a separate service the owners of Hola provide. According to reports, that service was used in an attack on the site 8Chan.
In addition to the issues with illegal activity on your account, the researchers also found that Hola could allow others to run unauthorized code on your machine, possibly taking it over entirely. Hola initially responded saying that it had always been transparent about its business practices, though screenshots showed them updating their site as the story broke. The Chrome and Firefox extensions for Hola have been removed from the respective app stores.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that a recently unsealed ruling explains why a judge decide that music streaming service Pandora must pay 2.5 percent of its revenue to the performing rights organization BMI.
The case stems from a royalty dispute between Pandora and music publishers, which represent songwriters and composers. Music publishers had first attempted to selectively withdraw their digital streaming rights from BMI but the court prevented that. That, in turn, moved the case to a trial on how much Pandora should be forced to pay, with BMI asking for 2.5 percent and Pandora wished to continue the 1.75 percent it had been paying.
The judge, however, sided completely with BMI. According to the decision, Apple pays 4.6 percent for its iTunes Radio service and Spotify pays either 2.5 percent of revenue or 6.25 percent of label costs, which ever is greater. Considering those services to be comparable to Pandora, the judge ruled that that 2.5 percent was the correct amount, with some adjustments for advertising costs, and put the license in effect for a four-year term, another request of BMI.
Finally today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that CloudFlare has responded to a filing by the RIAA and is aiming to distance itself from piracy, saying that it is not actively assisting any illegal activity.
The case centers around the new Grooveshark. Shortly after the RIAA reached a deal with Grooveshark that led to the site’s closure, a new site using the name sprang up. Though it was revealed that the site was really just another MP3 streaming site with a new design, the RIAA moved quickly to shutter the site, even getting a temporary restraining order barring others from working with it. That led to the seizure of the site’s domain but CloudFlare, a service that serves as a content delivery network that both hides and protects websites, has declined.
This prompted the RIAA to file a motion to compel CloudFlare to comply. However, CloudFare has responded to that filing saying that they are an automated service not covered by the restraining order. Furthermore, if they stopped providing service the site would still be active at its current domain as traffic would just be routed to the original server.
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.