Monthly Archives: February 2012

There are tablestakes at the internet

The SOCA scare screen at rnbxclusive.com, and its shitty technology reminds me of a story told by Alec Muffett on his dropsafe blog, called “Jailed for using a ‘nonstandard’ browser?” When will these people get good enough to play?

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I wanna be in the ICE, by the Serious Organised Crimes Agency

The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, part of the UK’s small national police force and a Home Office QUANGO, undertook a US Government style raid on the web site of rnbxclusive.com, which was reported by Techdirt in an article called “UK Now Seizing Music Blogs (With American Domains) Over Copy Right Claims”. The most startling part of this, for Brits, is the amazing splash screen factoids that greeted visitors to the site, which among other things states that the people behind the site have been arrested under suspicion of fraud, they know who you are (or more accurately, who your ISP is), the penalties for conspiracy to commit fraud and the quote below. The most startling part of this for Yanks and their law enforcement officers is that a foreign law enforcement agency can take down a .com i.e. a US site.

Glyn Moody in a an article called “Serious Organised Crime Agency Takes Down Music Site”, after talking to SOCA states that SOCA are pursuing enquiries to prove, to the point of arrest, that some, their notice said most, of the sound tracks previously available had been obtained pre-release by hacking. This is a crime under UK law and the copyright owners and licensees deserve the protection of the law, as the accused deserve a fair trial.

Arstechnia also comments in an article, entitled “Police: download a file, go to jail for 10 years and pay an “unlimited fine”. They clearly examine the notice and deconstruct the lies and disinformation. The notice includes statements about theft and the economic impact of the downloaders actions. i.e.

“As a result of illegal downloads young, emerging artists may have had their careers damaged. If you have illegally downloaded music from this site, you will have damaged the future of the music industry.”

It’s a disgrace that a law enforcement agency is publishing the BPI’s propaganda. The interests of a copyright licensors and the interests of artists are not synonymous!

Why are the police using our taxes to fund such bullshit? Why use British taxes to fund a free advert pointing at an american registered web site for so-called legal music? How much would that cost on google?

Innocent until proven guilty means that even the most egregious, industrial scale pirates are innocent until proven guilty.

Others have made the point that this notice may well prejudice any trial. I am also informed that the scary spyware doesn’t work with Mac or Chrome. Also IP addresses are private data under UK and European law, the use of the program code that displays the IP address requires a number of compliance actions. Perhaps I’ll check if SOCA registered this use of private data under the Data Protection Act.

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Was the DE Act a Hybrid Bill?

The DE Act was passed during the Parliamentary wash-up. While researching for my blog article, “Copyright in the UK, the next steps”, I looked for some facts on “Hybrid Legislation”, which I had been, wrongly, told was not permitted. I found the BBC’s page on Hybrid Bills, which states Hybrid Legislation is that which affects the public interest, but also specifically the private interests of a person, organisation or community and that interested private parties are entitled to a select committee hearing. So instead of an accelerated passage, a Hybrid Bill requires additional steps in the parliamentary process.

Does the restriction of the “Initial Obligations Code” to six specific internet service provider companies, make the DE Act a Hybrid Bill?

If so, that’s two failures in parliamentary processes that the passage of this bill required.

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In the nick of time, a hero arose

Finally got my thoughts on Sabam vs Scarlett out. This is the first European Court ruling on the copyright trolls attempts to wreck the internet. I have backdated it to November, when it first happened because I want to. The article has obviously been amended as things move on. Please read the full article here.

In summary the Belgian collective rights society, i.e. the private sector organisation that taxes pubs, cafes and jukeboxes on behalf of monoploy capitalism lost its attempt to force Belgum’s biggest ISP to do everything they wanted. The upside is that copyright trolls lost, the downside, they asked for everything and so some of what they want may still be legal.

Further  upside is that the European Court stated that the rights of citizens and ISPs must be balanced with those of copyright holders! This is our hope.

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Copyright in the UK, next steps

In the Bar after the @pictfor meeting last Monday, I met for the first time, Monica Horton, the curator of the iptegrity site. It was her review of the DE Bill Judicial Review that inspired me to read the judgement and write my own review, which is published on this blog in shortish and longer articles. I have had some time to think about the articles and the judgement since writing the articles and I and Monica compared notes. BT and Talktalk are appealing the ruling so it’s not over yet. The three most troubling areas to me are the rulings on what the Judge referred to as “careful balance”, the review of the impact analysis and the Privacy rulings.

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Helios or Janus

The Guardian reports on the foundation of a group, (or is it a faction) in the LibDems articulating opposition to coalition with the Tories. Is this something new, or just more of the same Janus like presentation they’ve always pursued? Left in the North, Right in the South. Despite my biased cynicism, I admire Grayson’s bravery. I wish him well.

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Search Neutrality goes to Parliament

Earlier this week I attended the @pictfor meeting advertised as about “Search Neutrality”. It had entered my radar when Alec Muffett who had been invited to speak, announced his attendance on twitter and his Computer World blog, “The Google Dialogues : Search Neutrality”. The speakers were Alec, and Shivaun Raff, the CEO of Foundem and Mark Margaretten, Professor at U. of Bedford. Foundem is one of the complaintants to the EU provoking an EU monopoly investigation into Google. This is covered in the Guardian, on the 20th November, in an article called “Google search investigation sparked by complaint from British site”.

Shivaun argued that Google manipulates its sort order to benefit its own alternative properties, particularly the price comparison sites. (Foundem is a vertical price comparison site.) They argue that over 90% of European search is fulfilled by Google, and that when Google chose to discriminate against them, their traffic fell off to a business breaking trickle.

Alec and Mark took a similar line to each other, Google is one click away from failure, relevance including sort order is subject to competitive pressure & no-one has a right to a place in a search engine’s sort order. Alec in his blog post points at James Grimelmann’s article,“Some Skepticism about Search Neutrality” who makes similar points, although Grimmelmann argues that vertical search sites are rarely useful or usable. Margaretten dealt with this less judgmentally by pointing out that Google also prefers sites with original content, which is why aggregator sites do less well. He reinforced the point that there are good reasons to devalue vertical search sites, although Foundem can prove that they were specifically penalised. Grimmelman distinguishes between regulating for “Search Neutrality” which he opposes and anti-trust law which he argues is different and has its own theory and practice. The meeting missed this dichotomy between monopoly regulation and search neutrality.

Shivaun Raff was backed up by a spokesperson from Streetmap, who provided some evidence that Google had manipulated their sort order when they launched Google maps in order to better compete with the established players. I hope that they have made a submission to the Commission. The talk in the bar after was that streetmap lost out due to Google Maps technical superiority particularly features such as navigation, user generated content, personal customisation and world wide coverage; however even if this is true it doesn’t necessarily mean that the allegation of malicious action is unjustified.

I’ll be interested to see if the Commission come to consider Google to be a monopoly. It dominates in search, and its maps and mail are wildly popular but it’s definitely second choice for microblogging (g+) where it’s outgunned by twitter and facebook, identity assurance where Google Profile trails behind twitter and facebook, picture blogging (Yahoo), bookmarks (delicious and reddit) and blogging (wordpress). It’s interesting to consider this in the light of some changes made by google to their user experience over the last couple of months where they are staring   … » Read more …

If you think using the internet is marginally legal?

Cory Doctorow, the coming war on the general purpose i.e. programable computer

a speech given at 28C3, in Berlin 2011

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The chilling effect of global copyright enforcement

And on to the EU’s attempt to implement strong copyright enforcement. I’ll return to the UK in the next week or so, but the European Commission signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) a couple of days ago. This proposed trade treaty has been negotiated in secret amongst a group of governments from the developed world. The US agenda was to strengthen international enforcement of intellectual property laws, and the original European agenda was similar, but orientated more around the protection of a number of geographic brands, such as champagne or cheddar. The Open Rights Group talks, on their blog, about the secrecy and how we have came to this point.

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