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19th December   

Update: Phorming a Starting Line...

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BT look set to start using Phorm in 2009
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

BT logo Phorm expects to launch its targeted ad service in the first half of next year after a successful trial with BT.

Phorm is behind technology that analyses web users' behaviour in a bid to serve up more relevant advertising. The company has been criticised because of fears that its technology will allow internet companies to spy on users.

However, it has taken great pains to explain that privacy is one of its major concerns and that because of the way its targeting works, no identifying information is retained on web users.

Phorm said that the BT trial, which began on 30 September, achieved its primary objective of testing all the elements necessary for a larger deployment, including the serving of small volumes of targeted advertising. BT has said it expects to move towards deployment of the Phorm platform.

Phorm chief executive Kent Ertugrul said: We have met with most of the main players in the advertising sector and they welcome the potential commercial value of the service. We have not set a date for a full launch, as this depends on several factors such as the ISPs, but we are looking at a launch in the near term. This is a first half of 2009 initiative.

 

17th December   

Essentially Bullying...

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Bare Escentuals claims domain name Bare-Essentials
Link Here

A large cosmetic product company has filed a trademark infringement suit against an online sex toy company that sells from India.

Bare Escentuals Beauty Inc., which sells cosmetics at Sephora stores and the QVC television network, claims Bare-essentials.biz violates its trademark at U.S. District Court in Virginia, and is in violation of anti-cybersquatting laws.

Bare Escentuals also is asking that the court transfer its domain name to the cosmetic company. Bare-essentials.biz domain owners, who were not identified in the suit, registered the domain three months ago with a business address in Kolkatta, India.

Plaintiff is informed and believes, and therefore alleges, that registrant willfully and intentionally registered and used a domain name with a natural and obvious misspelling of the word ‘escentual' as ‘essential' to trick plaintiffs' customers into visiting registrant's website, which purports to sell lingerie and personal care products.

 

14th December   

Update: Insufficient Evidence...


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Which? magazine files complaint against bullying Davenport Lyons
Link Here  full story: Sharing Bullies...Lawyers intimidate sharers innocent or not

Which? magazine Consumer magazine Which? has complained to the solicitors' watchdog about a London law firm that sent bullying letters to hundreds of innocent consumers.

Davenport Lyons has been hunting for internet users who it believes have illegally shared copies of video games and gay pornography. The alleged file-sharers received letters from the law firm demanding payment of £500 compensation for copyright infringement.

However, letters sent out rely on IP addresses and with so many unsecured wireless networks and file sharing sites which spoof IP addresses, serious questions are being asked about the validity of evidence put forward by Davenport Lyons, evidence already discredited by at least two other European countries.

The case was featured on BBC's Watchdog programme this week, and both Watchdog and The Real Hustle have highlighted the relative ease with which many home networks can be breached. Many of those wrongly accused by Davenport Lyons say that their claims of innocence are ignored completely and simply followed with continued demands for money.

Michael Coyle, solicitor advocate with Lawdit who is currently representing hundreds of UK citizens who have received threatening letters, says that using IP addresses alone to pinpoint file sharers is a nonsense and that Davenport Lyons are using heavy-handed tactics.

Which? has written to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority complaining about what it describes as bullying and excessive , pointing out that during a recession, more and more companies will be looking to make money from individuals and that the SRA should take decisive action. Which? has invited anyone wrongly accused by Davenport Lyons to contact whichcomputingnews@which.co.uk.

A number 10 petition has also been created.

Steve Lawson, editor for Hellmail the postal industry news site said: Its a disgrace that an apparently respected firm of solicitors is relying on such poor evidence and sending out letters to frighten the wits out of people that in many cases have done nothing wrong at all, and then for those people to discover that they are not even being listened to.

 

10th December   

Keel Hauled...

Danish high court continues the ISP block on PirateBay
Link Here

Pirate Bay logo The Danish Eastern High Court ruled last week that it is up to Internet service providers to ensure that their customers do not use the Swedish torrent-tracking site The Pirate Bay to download illegal content.

This ruling upholds a previous court order in the case between the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Danish ISP Tele2.

Since February this year, Tele2's customers have not been able to access the Pirate Bay because an injunction forces Tele2 to block access at the DNS level.

Last week's ruling upholds this decision and will probably cause the IFPI to insist that all Danish ISPs block access to the site.

 

3rd December   

Update: A Strike at Democracy...

Sarkozy strikes down 3 strikes protection suggested by European Parliament
Link Here

Sarkozy voodoo doll An amendment designed to protect Internet users from the anti-piracy lobby has been rejected by President Sarkozy of the European Council.

The rejection goes against the will of the European Parliament, where 88% of the members already voted in favor of the amendment, which was originally destined to protect file-sharers from Internet disconnection under the ‘3 strikes' framework. This was much needed, as in recent years, anti-piracy lobby groups have called for tougher monitoring of Internet users and are actively working to erode their rights further.

The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was supposed to put a halt to the march of the anti-piracy lobby. However, despite the fact that is was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 573 parliament members voting in favor with just 74 rejections, the European Council went against this democratic vote.

In September, Bono stated in a response to the vote: You do not play with individual freedoms like that, going on to say that the French government should review its three-strikes law. Sarkozy had other plans though, and in his position of President of the European Council, he convinced his friends to reject the proposal.

 

2nd December   

Legal Nasties...

Nasty letters inaccurately targeted at alleged porn downloaders demand unreasonable damages
Link Here  full story: Sharing Bullies...Lawyers intimidate sharers innocent or not

Army Fuckers DVD Innocent people are getting letters from lawyers claiming they should pay for films they've never seen.

A Hertfordshire couple in their 60s were horrified to receive a letter last week from lawyers at Davenport Lyons accusing them of downloading a hardcore gay porn movie. It demanded they pay £503 for copyright infringement or face a high court action. The 20-page pre-settlement letter from Davenport Lyons, acting on behalf of German pornogaphers, insisted they pay £503 to their clients for the 115 minute film Army Fuckers which features Gestapo officers and Czech farmers.

The bewildered couple contacted Guardian Money. We were offended by the title of the film. We don't do porn - straight or gay - and we can't do downloads. We have to ask our son even to do an iTunes purchase.

But this Hertfordshire couple are not alone. A large number of people have received this letter, provoking a massive outcry on web forums such as slyck.com and torrentfreak which estimate 25,000 of these letters have been sent out. If all the recipients paid up, it would net £12.5m - more than almost any porn film has made.

Media expert Michael Coyle at Southampton-based solicitors Lawdit, is fighting on behalf of individuals who have received the letter from Davenport Lyons. Owners of films, music and computer games obviously have to protect their rights and prevent illegal copying, otherwise everyone would get all sorts of content for free.

"But many of these letters have been sent to people who have no idea what a download is. We've had straight pensioners complain, and a mother who had the shock of having to question her 14-year-old son about gay porn because he was the only apparent user of the internet connection that was registered to her.


Coyle says Davenport Lyons represent DigiProtect, a German company with rights to both pornographic films. He questions the amount demanded and methods used to identify computers alleged to have downloaded material. He believes the sum demanded is out of all proportion to the alleged injury. In one case, Davenport Lyons wanted £500 for a £20 game. The alleged file-sharing would have cost only about £50 - the rest is legal costs.

Coyle offers a £50 service for those who refuse to cave in to the demands as he believes some of the firm's successes are due to consumers paying up because they cannot afford the legal costs of defending themselves. They have won court cases including a high-profile £16,000 on a games download. But these have not been defended. My advice is to deny file sharing to any such request.

 

29th November   

Updated: Sad Consumers...

Orange customers blocked from the Pirate Bay
Link Here

Orange logo According to many customers of the ISP Orange, it has been impossible to access the site for the last five days, unless they route their traffic through a proxy.

Orange is a very large ISP, serving more than 10 million customers across the UK, France, Spain, Switzerland and several other countries.

Last Friday, reports started coming in from UK Orange Broadband users, all of them complaining that they can no longer access The Pirate Bay. Initially it seemed that the difficulties could be related to technical issues but as the days have passed, the situation hasn't changed. Worryingly, the situation is mirrored by Orange customers in France who are also complaining the ‘bay is off-limits.

Update: Green Light

29th November 2008. See article from torrentfreak.com

An Orange spokesperson responded officially:

We can confirm that we have not actively stopped customers accessing the web sites reportedly affected. However, following investigation by our network partners, a small section of our Internet traffic was rerouted by one of them which has now restored access to the sites concerned.

As has always been the case, it is Orange UK's policy to not block customer access to websites, other than to those containing images of child abuse as identified by the IWF.

 

23rd November   

Rusty Toyota...

Toyota attempt at bullying backfires
Link Here

rusty Toyota Toyota, one of the biggest car companies in the world aspires to also being known as one of the biggest bullies of the world.

Desktopnexus, a site that provides desktop backgrounds, has been contacted by Toyota. In perhaps one of the most wildly arrogant demands in DMCA history, Toyota's lawyers are demanding the withdrawal of all wallpapers that feature a Toyota, Scion, or Lexus.

The site's owner, Harry Maugans contacted Toyota to clarify. He was told that all images featuring Toyota vehicles should be removed, even images with copyright belonging to others.

Yet, Toyota has also been cagey. These demands have not been sent in the form of a DMCA notice. While sending such a notice would require the takedown, it also requires that the person sending the notice legally certify that they are legal representatives for the copyright holders at issue. Making a false statement is punishable under penalty of perjury, which is not taken lightly in US courts.

Based on blog from desktopnexus.com

After long discussions and feeling I was getting no where with [Toyota lawyer] Mr. Biggs, I finally decided to email a few blogs who might be interested in this DMCA butchering story.

After this started spreading around, I followed the story and started reading all the comments that came flooding in. I was amazed by how this backfired on Toyota, and how much negativity was being thrown around.

As I said earlier, viral events can be a PR nightmare for a company… especially one like Toyota who invests to much into preserving their brand name.

Based on article from torrentfreak.com

Sometimes a company can be pressured into accepting mistakes, and this is the case here. With a large amount of negative publicity. Toyota contacted TorrentFreak and DesktopNexus, expressing their apologies for the incident.

From: Scott DeYager, Toyota Motor Sales, USA

The recent request Toyota made to have certain photos of Toyota vehicles removed from the public wallpaper site, DesktopNexus, was the result of an internal miscommunication.

To protect the legal rights and agreements we have with the photographers we hire, we ask that the photographs not be used for direct consumer advertising, sales brochures and the like.

If people wish to post their own photos of one of their own vehicles, that's their right. In fact, we're pleased that people would want to show their Toyota vehicles to the world. So have at it. Consider the wallpapers on DesktopNexus to be fair game for personal use.

Please let your readers know that we offer a sincere apology to the DesktopNexus site and its users for any inconvenience or disruption this miscommunication may have caused.

 

22nd November   

Update: BT Customers Uninphormed...

BT delete discussions of Phorm from their support forum
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

BT logo BT has banned all future discussion of Phorm and its WebWise targeted advertising product on its customer forums, and deleted all past threads about the controversy dating back to February.

Subscribers to BT's broadband packages had used the BT Beta forums to criticise its relationship with Phorm and raise concerns about the technical implications of ISPs wiretapping their customers.

However, BT decided it had had enough and deleted the threads. A first thread on WebWise extended to almost 200 pages, before being closed in late September when BT's third trial of the system began. It was still available to read however and a new thread was started by BT Beta moderators, which continued until yesterday. All record of either has now been removed.

 

22nd November   

Search and Destroy...

Nasty Wii update
Link Here

Wii console Nintendo have released another Wii update, version 3.4, installing which gives the software permission to check for and automatically remove any unauthorized modifications to save files. That means that any users of the homebrew channel will see their tweaked game save files - for titles such as Twilight Princess - deleted.

According to initial reports, it looks as though the 3.4 update itself changes very little apart from the ToS tweak and introducing this new search-and-destroy tool.

The advice to anybody using a modified Wii is to hold off on updating the console until the homebrew community has had a chance to circumnavigate the new “protection”.

 

15th November   

Isolated Instances...

Microsoft reject modded consoles from Xbox Live service
Link Here

Xbox Xbox Live's Major Nelson has revealed that Microsoft has recently banned number of Xbox 360 consoles modified to play pirated games.

In his blog, Major Nelson explained that any modification to an Xbox 360 was a violation of the terms of service and that action needed to be taken against software piracy in order to protect the games industry.