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White House seeks to clamp down on piracy, copyright infringement

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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration unveiled a blueprint Monday to beef up digital copyright laws, as part of an effort to adjust intellectual property regulations in the age of the Internet.

“Our efforts focus on combating significant acts of infringement, protecting legitimate uses of the Internet and respecting principles of free speech and fair process,” the 92-page report (pdf) reads.

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However, it doesn’t clarify what fair usage of digital copyrighted material would entail.

CNET’s Declan McCullagh reported that the proposals would “curb Internet piracy and other forms of intellectual property infringement” and will boost laws that “aid right-holders and the U.S. government to combat infringement.”

He added that the White House plans to send the proposals, authored by President Barack Obama’s intellectual property enforcer Victoria Espinel, to Congress “in the very near future.”

The effort could have implications for online news and media venues, many of which share content on the understanding that original work is to be property attributed and linked back to the source.

The enhanced copyright protections may be welcome news to other digital media organizations that are disdainful of the sharing of content online.

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McCullagh argued that the document “reads a lot like a report that could have been prepared by lobbyists for the recording or movie industry,” as it invokes the recent rise in copyright infringement investigations.

The proposals build on legislation enacted by President George W. Bush in 2008 called the “Pro IP ACT,” which also included ideas by Obama’s current intellectual property enforcer. CNET reported at the time that the measure, championed by the Recording Industry Association of America, “steepen[ed] penalties for intellectual-property infringement.”

Congress has generally supported efforts to beef up copyright laws pertinent to the Internet, including unanimous Senate authorization of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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US industry groups have also played a key role in helping reorganize online infringement laws in other countries, according to documents released by anti-secrecy outlet WikiLeaks.


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French regulator orders Google pay copyright fees to media groups

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France's competition regulator said Thursday that Google must start paying media groups for displaying their content, ordering it to begin negotiations after refusing for months to comply with Europe's new digital copyright law.

The agency said it "requires Google, within three months, to conduct negotiations in good faith with publishers and news agencies on the remuneration for the re-use of their protected contents".

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COVID-19

US, Britain warn that hackers increasingly use coronavirus bait

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US and British cybersecurity agencies warned Wednesday that foreign government-backed hacking groups are using coronavirus themes to ply their way into computers and networks.

The groups are sending phishing emails and setting up websites with COVID-19 virus subjects, aiming to lure users to click on links that will expose their computers to penetration or introduce malware.

Some use email and SMS subject lines like "2020 Coronavirus updates" or "Coronavirus outbreak in your city(Emergency)", while others might offer an attached file with purported updates on national policies to deal with the pandemic, said an alert jointly issued by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency and Britain's national Cyber Security Center.

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COVID-19

Internet overseers seek crackdown on coronavirus website scams

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The agency that oversees online addresses on Tuesday called for those issuing website address to vigilantly thwart cyber scams exploiting coronavirus fears.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers took the unusual step of firing off a letter to "registrars" entrusted with the business of issuing website names around the world.

"As you're also aware, ICANN cannot, under our bylaw and practically speaking, involve itself in issues related to website content,"

ICANN chief executive Goran Marby said the global agency does not have authority to manage website content but added: "That does not mean we are unconcerned or unaware of how certain domain names are being misused in fraudulent activities during this global pandemic."

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