Control Freaks

 2011: July-Sept



26th September   

Update: Can't be Accused of Copying Other Country's Ideas...

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Italy proposes 'one strike' internet disconnection
Link Here

Italy flagFrance and New Zealand have already signed this three-strikes approach into law, and a recent proposal from the Italian government shows that they are considering doing the same. However, unlike we've seen thus far, the Italian plan is not exactly the graduated response that other countries have adopted.

One of the most worrying changes for the public is that Internet providers have to disconnect subscribers upon receiving a single infringement notice. The legitimacy of the notification is not verified and the appeal options appear to be limited. In addition, the proposal also allows interested parties who are not the copyright holder to file complaints. To prevent pirates from sneaking back online, ISPs are further required to keep a blacklist of all copyright offenders.

The one-strike disconnection proposal and the backlist are obviously worrying for Italian consumers, but the draft legislation also targets online service providers. For instance, the proposal specifically requires ISPs to censor content deemed to be copyright infringing. If they fail to do so, they face both civil and criminal liability.

In addition, all companies that provide services or sell goods online would have to actively prevent direct or indirect copyright infringement. This could spell trouble for Google, which refers users to a lot of copyrighted material through its search engine and hosts this content on YouTube. Also, it would require companies like eBay to check if users own the copyrights to the goods they sell online.

 

23rd September   

Region Zero...

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Playstation Vita to be free of region locking nonsense
Link Here

Sony PlayStation Vita Wi Fi only Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation Vita will be free from region coding.

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida released the information via his Twitter feed, replying, Yes, it is, when quizzed on the issue by one of his followers.

Without region locks the Vita could theoretically be imported by gamers in outside of Japan when it launches there on December 17.

However, Yoshida subsequently discouraged those considering this option, saying, I personally do not recommend that. As an example, Yoshida offered the traditional difference in the use of the X and O buttons in Japanese games, where O typically means yes and X means no - in European and American games the opposite is generally the case.

 

19th September   

Update: Boarding Party...

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Pirate Party takes 9% of the vote in for seats in the Berlin Parliament
Link Here  full story: Pirate Party...The Pirate Party starts up arund the world

Pirate PartyFor the first time in history, a Pirate Party has managed to enter a state parliament. With an estimated 9% of the total vote the Pirate Party exceeded the 5% floor needed to enter the Berlin parliament with several seats. For the international Pirate Party movement this is the second major success after the European elections of 2009.

9% of the votes will translate into 15 parliamentary seats.

The initial results show that the Pirates received the most support from younger voters. 15% of people under 30 voted for the Pirate Party, but even among voters aged 60 years and up, a few percent voted for the Pirates.

TorrentFreak asked Sebastian Nerz, Chairman of the German Pirate Party, what this success means for the party. He told us that due to an increase in funds and influence the Pirate Party will have a greater chance to make its mark.

At the moment the Pirate Party of Germany does not have any paid employees, Nerz says. Everyone working for the party -- including myself -- is working in an honorary capacity. In contrast, Members of Parliament are paid for their work. In addition they receive state money to pay for assistents and co-workers. This will enable those Pirates to work full-time for the party, thus giving us much more work force.

Another very important benefit is, that citizens and media are taking parties with access to the parliament much more seriously. A number of times I've heard, Your party is not relevant because it does not have members of parliament. Following this weekend's successes, in this respect the party's position will be greatly improved.

In addition the Pirate Party expects that their heightened profile will lead to an increase in members and more people working for the party. As for the party's ideals, they want to be as transparent as possible, secure the privacy of citizens, abolish patents and limit the ever growing control of copyright exploiting organizations.

 

18th September   

Update: Sharing Ideas...

Jeremy Hunt outlines measures against file sharing for the 2015 Communications Act
Link Here  full story: Sharing in the UK...UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

jeremy huntNUK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has delivered a speech, calling on net firms, advertisers and credit card companies to cut ties with websites that link to unlawful content.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society, he said he wanted to make it harder for such sites to prosper.

Ideally the government would like to see Google remove pirate sites from its search engine completely. But Google's response suggested this was unlikely. Without a court order, any copyright owner can already use our removals process to inform us of copyright infringing content and have it removed from Google Search, the firm said in a statement.

In his speech, Hunt denied that blocking access to pirated content was an attack on net neutrality:

Unlawfully distributing copyrighted material is theft - and a direct assault on the freedoms and rights of creators of content to be rewarded fairly for their efforts

We do not allow certain products to be sold in the shops on the High Street, nor do we allow shops to be set up purely to sell counterfeited products. Likewise we should be entitled to make it more difficult to access sites that are dedicated to the infringement of copyright.

Hunt outlined measures for the new Communications Act which is due to become law towards the end of the current Parliament in 2015.

  • A cross-industry body, perhaps modelled on the Internet Watch Foundation, to be charged with identifying infringing websites against which action could be taken
  • A streamlined legal process to make it possible for the courts to act quickly
  • A responsibility on search engines and ISPs to take reasonable steps to make it harder to access sites that a court has deemed contain unlawful content or promote unlawful distribution of content
  • A responsibility on advertisers to take reasonable steps to remove their advertisements from these sites
  • A responsibility on credit card companies and banks to remove their services from these sites.

Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group, said the proposals set a dangerous precedent:

It is pretty dangerous to ask credit card companies or Google to decide who is guilty.

Once again Mr Hunt has listened to the lobbyists and has made no attempt to work out the scale of the problem. We are back where we were with the DEA, which is proving unworkable and an expensive nightmare.

 

10th September   

Update: On the 3rd Stroke...

New Zealand 3 strikes file sharing law now in effect
Link Here  full story: Guilt by Accusation...Copywrite sees internet users cut off on accusation

New Zealand flagNew Zealand's long-delayed three-strikes law has taken effect.

The law allows for fines of up to NZ$15,000 ($12,000) and Internet account suspensions for up to six months.

The law takes effect despite a UN report that concluded disconnecting Internet users, regardless of the justification provided, is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because it limits the type of media individuals are allowed to use to express themselves.

UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue said that he was alarmed by disproportionate Internet disconnection proposals, and that individuals should never have their Internet access terminated for any reason, including copyright infringement.

 

30th August   

Update: Deeply Flawed and Unworkable...

LibDem policy paper proposes that the Digital Economy Act is reworked
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

libdem filesharing paper Copyright laws set out in the Digital Economy Act (DEA) are deeply flawed and unworkable and should be abolished, a Liberal Democrat policy proposal has said:

We recommend the repeal of sections 3-18 of the Digital Economy Act, which relate to copyright infringement.

Good legislation is built upon a robust evidential framework and a clear democratic mandate, neither of which were secured in this case. The ultimate result has been a deeply flawed and unworkable Act which stands only as the main emblem of a misguided, outdated and negative approach.

The DEA sets out that Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, should draw up new regulations to detail how internet service providers (ISPs) should be involved in attempts to stop copyright infringement.

 

7th August   

Update: Oops...Ofcom Kindly Detail Site Blocking Work Rounds...

DCMS ask Ofcom to delete part of their Site Blocking report
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

DCMS logo Ofcom have recently written a report, Site Blocking to reduce online copyright infringement, as part of a feasibility study into measures contained in the Digital Economy Act.

For the moment Ofcom has come out against the use of website blocking and explained some of the difficulties in the report. Particularly the current ease with which both websites and readers may circumvent current blocking techniques.

According to The Register, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport weren't too impressed by Ofcom letting the public be aware of the limitations of current website blocking technologies and asked Ofcom to censor the information.

Ofcom deleted the offending but some of the censored information was left in the document presumably in the document history. It was published and some clever people were able to restore the deleted text. Ofcom have now properly implemented the censorship but not before it was published on scribd and internet commentators had pointed out some of the sensitive work rounds to site blocking techniques. eg:

  • Websites providing encrypted access to their websites via SSL/HTTPS
  • Websites using a network port other than the usual port 80
  • Websites changing the IP address and bypassing the network routing announcements
  • Websites registering a new domain name and letting users know via email and social networking
  • Websites using page naming to defeat individual page blocking perhaps by having arbitrary search strings that lead to the blocked page
  • Readers using Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
  • Readers using anonymous web proxies

In general the authorities are not going to be very keen on large numbers of internet users being encouraged to use hard to monitor web routings that make life difficult for policing the net for more serious issues.

 

7th August   

Update: Shared Charges...

Government confirms procedures leading up to internet cut off for file sharers
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Silverline 633763 Cable Cutting Pliers People who illegally put music or films on the internet for others to download could have their web access cut off under new copyright rules announced by the Government.

Record labels and studios will be able to send a list of those suspected of illegal file-sharing to internet service providers and demand that their accounts are switched off.

But consumer groups fear innocent families could be targeted. Parents have been caught up in allegations of piracy after their teenage children uploaded music without their knowledge. Others have been wrongly accused after pirates hijacked their home wi-fi.

Under the new rules, it will cost £ 20 to appeal against the allegations.

 

6th August   

Recording Cable...

Ripping up outdated law
Link Here

Ripping Things Do Games Childrens Vince Cable, the UK Business Secretary,  has given his broad backing to a review by Professor Ian Hargreaves of copyright law, claiming it would stimulate innovation:

We are removing the barriers to the intellectual property system to encourage innovation. We need a legal framework that supports consumer use rather than one that sees it as regrettable.

The suggested changes would make it legal for individuals to make digital copies of their CDs and DVDs.. As well as legalising format shifting , it also suggested relaxing rules on parody and creating an agency to licence copyrighted content. The change would not make it legal to make copies and then share them online.

The changes are expected to pave the way for Google and Amazon to launch cloud music storage systems for UK consumers - although there was still some confusion over whether this could run into conflict with European law. A government spokesman said any conflicts would be dealt with during the consultation period, but Cable said he was confident there would not be problems.

The shake-up will also allow anyone to apply data-mining technology to published journals, making it easier for the scientific community to access research. However, the move was met with hostility by publishers, who see data-mining as a major source of growth.

 

4th August   

Offsite: Un-Blacked Out...

Censorship Fail Reveals Big Music ISP Spying Plan
Link Here

virgin media logo Previously confidential documents detailing Universal Music's meetings with the former UK government over the Digital Economy Act are revealing a whole lot more than the pair intended. Blacked-out sections now uncovered show that Universal believed that ISPs could spy on their users and hand over information to rightsholders in order for them to sue.

...Read the full article

 

26th July   

Update: First the Torrent Sites, Then the Proxy Sites, Then...

Web blocking censorship spreads in Italy
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flag Italian ISPs were forced to block a legal proxy-server website after the authorities found that proxyitalia.com could be used to access BtJunkie , The Pirate Bay , and other websites banned under Italy's copyright enforcement regime.

Italy's cybercrime police unit, the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), banned the general-purpose proxy service at the request of Cagliari deputy prosecutor, in a move which provoked widespread condemnation in the Internet community:

A UK ISPA Spokesperson said:

Blocking access to proxy servers and VPNs is not an effective means of tackling copyright infringement online and will prevent access for legitimate uses of this technology such as mobile working and securing public wireless networks.

 

26th July   

Shared Blocks...

India orders ISP blocking of major file sharing sites
Link Here

India flag Users of several major ISPs in India can no longer access some of the world's largest file-hosting sites. On apparent order from the Indian government, RapidShare, MegaUpload, MediaFile, HotFile and many more are all being blocked at the ISP level.

According to an initial reports, the blocks have been ordered by DOT, the Indian Government's Department of Telecommunications.

 

5th July   

Offsite: Creative Commons...

Content made available for internet use but with attribution required and with restrictions
Link Here

creative commons logo A campaign has been launched to help people avoid breaking the law when they post pictures, music and videos online.

Copyright group Creative Commons has published a guide to identifying material that can be used freely without getting sued.

It is also advises individuals how to protect content they have made themselves.

Around 500 million pieces of work are currently covered by Creative Commons.

The free-to-use legal licenses add a range of protections to content.

At one end of the scale, a rights holder can chose to share their property with anyone, and let them do what they like with it. Stricter versions of the licences protect material from being manipulated or used for commercial purposes.

...Read the full article

 

4th July   

Offsite: Kind of Screwed...

Unlicensed pixellated album cover art gets the lawyers calling for ludicrous damages
Link Here

Kind Blue Miles Davis Remember Kind of Bloop , the chiptune tribute to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue that I produced? I went out of my way to make sure the entire project was above board, licensing all the cover songs from Miles Davis's publisher and giving the total profits from the Kickstarter fundraiser to the five musicians that participated.

But there was one thing I never thought would be an issue: the cover art.

Before the project launched, I knew exactly what I wanted for the cover --- a pixel art recreation of the original album cover, the only thing that made sense for an 8-bit tribute to Kind of Blue.

In February 2010, I was contacted by attorneys representing famed New York photographer Jay Maisel, the photographer who shot the original photo of Miles Davis used for the cover of Kind of Blue.

In their demand letter, they alleged that I was infringing on Maisel's copyright by using the illustration on the album and elsewhere, as well as using the original cover in a thank you video I made for the album's release. In compensation, they were seeking either statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement at the jury's discretion and reasonable attorneys fees or actual damages and all profits attributed to the unlicensed use of his photograph, and $25,000 for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations.

After seven months of legal wrangling, we reached a settlement. Last September, I paid Maisel a sum of $32,500 and I'm unable to use the artwork again.

...Read the full article

 

1st July   

Not So Pally...

Paypal closes accounts of pirate DVD sellers
Link Here

Paypal PayPal has closed down the accounts of a number of retailers who had been collecting money through the online payment method for DVDs which turned out to have been pirated.

It is also co-operating with the Motion Picture Association of America in a joint investigation of these sellers, who are mostly based in China.

Julie Bainbridge, PayPal's head of global brand risk management, told the Los Angeles Times: Our action today sends a strong message to all criminals that PayPal does not tolerate such illegal activity on our global pay platform.