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 2010: April-June

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28th June   

Canvas Stitched Up...


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BBC Internet TV set top box to restrict access and content
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canvas logoThe BBC Trust, has approved the BBC set top box Project Canvas with certain conditions.

UK broadcasters are collaborating on a common set top box, with IPTV and web built-in.

The Canvas project copyrights vital parts of the technical specification, which can't be seen except under NDA. Effectively this hardwires the content into the silicon: like buying an FM radio in Singapore and finding it only plays Singapore-approved content when you get home.

The Trust makes four conditions for the BBC's continuing supports - and demands that these be enshrined in the objects and shareholders' agreement . The conditions are:

  • The joint venture may develop ways in which to recover operational costs but, for the avoidance of doubt, any such activity will be charged to third parties on a cost recovery basis only.
  • Entry controls in terms of technical and content standards will be minimal.
  • Access will not be bundled with other products or services.
  • Listing on the electronic programme guide and UI will be awarded in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner.

OpenIPTV specs are by contrast, well, open and global. But basing a Canvas box on truly open standards may have opened up the market much wider. We can't be having that - UK viewers must be protected by having a UK-only device serving up nice, UK-approved content in a UK-approved manner. If it stays a UK-only platform and means fewer devices get made, so there's less competition and higher prices, well, that's too bad.

 

28th June   

Hot off the Press...


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US court case to address copyright issues with respect to hot news
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US Dept of JusticeMajor US news organisations have filed papers with a New York court arguing that the controversial hot news doctrine should be preserved and that they should be able to sue anyone who republishes their news quickly.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, the New York Times, local paper giant Gannet and others have petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking that their views be taken into account when ruling on the issue in a case about financial information.

The hot news doctrine is the product of a 1918 US Supreme Court ruling which sought to allow AP to benefit from the investment it had made in sending reporters across the world to report on the First World War.

International News Service (INS) was copying AP's stories but copyright law could not be used to stop the practice because it covers the expression of an idea, not the idea or fact lying behind it.

The Supreme Court gave AP and other news-gatherers a right that was almost like an intellectual property right over facts. Fact-gatherers were given a period of time in which nobody else could report facts that it had uncovered. This was called the hot news doctrine.

Google and Twitter have also filed a brief to the court in the case arguing that the hot news doctrine is out of date and should not be maintained by courts.

...Read the full article

 

24th June   

Offsite: Apple's Listening...


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Rumours of an attack against iPhone unlocking and privacy compromised video calls
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iPhoneAn Apple employee (call him Alpha ) who works in the iPhone Development Department has leaked some information to us recently, most of which will come as a surprise to many. The amount of shocking information leaked is beyond the grasp of an individual and shows how far Apple and AT&T will go to lock their users and steal their information while they have no clue about it.

First off, we will divide the leaks into different topics in order of the communication that took place.

  • With iOS 4, AT&T locks all US iPhone owners to their network via regular OTA updates.
  • AT&T shipped some iPhone 4 early to verify their OTA update system.
  • Apple stealing user information via WiFi video call facility, FaceTime, which lacks encryption.
  • Some Apple employees who are aware of this situation are not updating to iOS 4.

...Read the full article

 

17th June   

Update: Freeview HD Recording Restrictions...

Ofcom allow recording restrictions on Freeview broadcasts
Link Here

bbc hd logoOfcom has granted the BBC the power to introduce anti-piracy technology to Freeview to limit the recording of high-definition TV shows, despite complaints from organisations including the Open Rights Group that it is not in consumer or competition interest.

The BBC is to be allowed to change the Freeview multiplex licence to allow copy protection technology in set-top boxes.

Ofcom said today that only manufacturers of set-top boxes and Freeview HD TV sets that include anti-piracy technology will be allowed to be compatible with the Freeview electronic programming guide. 

Ofcom said that manufacturers would not be discriminated against and that the licence that would be required would be free. Consumers with existing set-top boxes will not have to buy new ones, the spokesman added.

The BBC's proposal would widen the range of HD content available on the [Freeview] platform, in particular high-value film and drama content, and this would bring positive benefits to citizens and consumers and also help ensure that the [Freeview] platform is able to compete on similar terms with other digital TV platforms for HD content rights, said Ofcom.

 

20th May   

Update: Party Invite...

Pirate Bay goes offline but soon returns
Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site

Pirate Party logoAfter its previous bandwidth provider had to take the site offline due to concerns over an aggressive Hollywood injunction, The Pirate Bay is back in operation with a surprising new supplier. In a move claimed to stand up for freedom of expression , the Swedish Pirate Party became the site's new host.

Following an injunction obtained by several major Hollywood movie studios, the previous Pirate Bay bandwidth provider CB3ROB took the decision to take the site offline while it digested the legal implications.

That meant that for several hours The Pirate Bay, for the first time in many months, was taken offline. But it soon returned via the Pirate Party.

Today, on 18 May, the Swedish Pirate Party took over the delivery of bandwidth to The Pirate Bay, says the Party's Rick Falkvinge in a statement: We got tired of Hollywood's cat and mouse game with the Pirate Bay so we decided to offer the site bandwidth. It is time to take the bull by the horns and stand up for what we believe is a legitimate activity.

The Pirate Party say they will provide bandwidth to the site's homepage and search engine. The Pirate Bay is a search engine, and as such it is not responsible for the results, notes Falkvinge.

 

15th May   

Offsite: Opting Out of Privacy...

Concerns about Facebook and privacy
Link Here

Facebook logoIn a misguided effort to manage the roiling discontent about Facebook's privacy bait and switch tactics, Vice President for Public Policy Elliot Schrage volunteered to take questions from New York Times readers.

ITworld forbids me from using the words I'd normally employ to describe what came out of Schrage. Suffice it to say it was the most egregious display of corporate doublespeak this side of Microsoft.

If you needed another reason not to trust Facebook, Schrage provided several. Here's bald-faced lie #1. A reader asked why not make everything on Facebook opt in – in other words, it's private unless the user decides to make it public. Here's Schrage's answer:

Everything is opt-in on Facebook. Participating in the service is a choice. We want people to continue to choose Facebook every day. Adding information — uploading photos or posting status updates or like a Page — are also all opt-in. Please don't share if you're not comfortable.

It's true that nobody's putting a gun to your head to join Facebook or post your naked cell photos pics (not yet, anyway). But once you do, most of your personal information – your biography, interests, posts, friends, families, relationships, location, education, and more -- are shared with everyone by default. You have to go in and change the settings to make them private.

That's not opt-in model, that's an opt-out model. Either Schrage doesn't understand the difference (which would be bad) or understands it but hopes you don't (which is worse).

...Read the full article

 

14th May   

Renewal of Concerns...

Subscription to ACS:Law copyright enforcement counts against sex shop at licence renewal time
Link Here

private shops logoAccording to information provided to TorrentFreak and by BeingThreatened.com, a consumer group set up to assist those wrongfully accused of infringement by ACS:Law and other lawyers, a sex shop has become an unlikely victim in the ongoing and hugely controversial anti-filesharing scheme.

Following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, it has been revealed that Darker Enterprises, the company behind the Private chain of sex shops, applied earlier this year to have one of its sex shop licenses renewed.

But the application didn't go smoothly. An objection to the granting of the license was received citing several potential grounds for refusal. The first claim stated there had been an attempt to hide the real owners of the applicants in order to obtain a license. The second was that the Private Shops website previously supplied restricted videos via mail contrary to law. Thirdly being a client of the ACS:Law scheme was cited in the objection.

Following the receipt by one north-west council of one such objection – which made direct reference to the scheme, describing it as one which '…bullies innocent individuals in respect of alleged file sharing of pornography…' – Darker Enterprises has withdrawn their renewal application, closed the shop and left the town, explains James Bench of BeingThreatened.com.

Sheptonhurst Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Darker Enterprises Ltd., was approached, along with a number of companies in the adult film industry, by a firm of solicitors offering to assist in tackling the problem of internet sharing of R18 [videos] on a no-win no-fee basis, said the company on its connections with ACS:Law: There had been concerns for some time not only because of copyright infringement but also because of the likely detrimental effects of uncontrolled circulation of material that should be subject to controls . The rights of enforcement were assigned to the solicitors concerned by a number of distributors.

But it seems that although only a single shop has been affected at this point, the situation has the potential to snowball.

The firm has to renew over a hundred licenses annually – a considerable liability. While they may feel that they have already been subject to a national campaign, the scope of their commercial vulnerability may yet become apparent, explains BeingThreatened's James Bench: In just the next two months license renewals are due in a further dozen towns including Stoke, Newport, Halifax, Bedford, Brent, Stevenage, Woking, Doncaster, Carlisle, Bolton, Brighton and Southampton, he concludes.

 

9th May   

Update: TV Remote Control...

US film industry given permission to turn off analogue TV outputs
Link Here  full story: Selectable Output Control...MPAA want to turn analogue video outputs off

FCC logoThe film industry has been allowed to block outputs on home television equipment so studios can offer first-run movies while preventing viewers from making copies.

Temporarily disabling the outputs will enable a new business model that wouldn't develop in the absence of such anti-piracy protection, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order.

The FCC order will allow the big firms for the first time to take control of a consumer's TV set or set-top box, blocking viewing of a TV program or motion picture, Gigi Sohn, president of Washington-based Public Knowledge, said in a statement.

The Motion Picture Association of America asked the FCC in 2008 for a waiver from rules against disabling video outputs so that its members could send movies over cable and satellite services using secure and protected digital outputs, according to the trade group's petition at the agency.

 

8th May   

Update: Copyright on Concerns...

Canada looks set to introduce copyright bill
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

Canada flagFollowing pressure from the US Government, Canada is preparing to ram through a revamped copyright bill that will have disastrous consequences for consumers.

In 2008, Canadian lawmakers proposed a new anti-piracy bill dubbed C-61. The plans met great opposition from the public and were eventually wiped from the table later that year prior to the federal elections. Last year, the Government decided to consult the public on what they would want from a new copyright bill.

In that consultation the public made it clear that stricter copyright laws are not welcome. However, it seems that this has had very little effect as Canada's Prime Minister is about to announce a new , even more draconian law. Michael Geist, prof. E-commerce Law in Ottawa, described the bill as the most anti-consumer copyright bill in Canadian history.

The effects of a draconian copyright bill in Canada can be far reaching. Things Canadians take for granted, like copying your music from your computer to your music player and vice versa, can be deemed illegal with this new bill, Gary Fung of IsoHunt told TorrentFreak.

ISPs can be forced to handover private information of users on a whim without due process. They may be further encouraged to throttle P2P traffic, even for entirely legitimate uses like game files distribution. The new bill also is unlikely to provide fair exceptions for breaking DRM for purposes that doesn't violate copyright, which unfairly prohibits one's tinkering with electronics he owns, Gary added.

Gary's warnings are justified. Although it is not completely clear what the details of the new bill will be, it is expected that it will be the Canadian equivalent of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This means that copyright takedown request become a censorship tool while consumers lose several fair use rights.

 

25th April   

Update: Bill Shared with Parliament...

New Zealand 3 strikes law begins its parliamentary process
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

New Zealand flagNew Zealand's Copyright (Infringement File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which allows for large fines and six month Internet suspensions, has just received its first reading in Parliament, to unanimous support.

Back in 2008 the New Zealand Government proposed the introduction of new law to combat illicit file-sharing. Section 92A was immediately the subject of protest from several corners which led the Government to go back to the drawing board.

Commerce Minister Simon Power later introduced The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill which replaced the earlier proposals with a modified regime to deal with illegal file sharing.

In common with efforts by the entertainment industries to change the law around the globe, the major feature of the Bill is a so-called 3 Strikes regime which will enable copyright owners to claim damages and make requests to the District Court for infringers to be disconnected from the Internet for up to six months.

The Bill will extend the jurisdiction of the country's Copyright Tribunal, which will hear both sides – rightsholders and file-sharers – and will be empowered to rule on cases of alleged infringement.

The Bill has now been referred to the Commerce Select Committee and will report back to Parliament in six months.

 

23rd April   

Offsite: Copy Police...

Secretive international copyright enforcement treaty finally revealed
Link Here  full story: ACTA Trade Restrictions...Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
rubber gloved customs officer

  We have reason to believe
you may be concealing a
pirate mp3 up your arse!

We've been covering the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for two years now, and in that entire 24 month period no official text of the agreement has been released.

That all changed as the countries behind ACTA have finally released a consolidated draft text (PDF) of the agreement. Though billed as a trade agreement about counterfeiting, ACTA is much more than that: it's an intellectual property treaty in disguise.

Tucked inside the draft are provisions that will prevent people from bypassing digital locks on the items they buy, that will force ISPs to shoulder more of the burden in the fight against online piracy, and that bring US-style notice-and-takedown rules to the world.

The text is not final—that is due to happen later this year—so if you want to see changes made, the time to act is now. After a year of partial leaks and finally complete leaks, ACTA's basic outlines are familiar.

iPod-scanning border guards?

Early ACTA commentators often complained that the agreement might give customs officials the right to rifle through your bags and search your iPod, confiscating it if they determined that it contained any infringing songs. Border guards might become copyright cops, turning out the bags of anyone who has visited China, say, to see if they might be bringing home any illicit copies of movies or software.

This was always a strange idea; ACTA's backers are hunting bigger game than iPods. The draft text contains a de minimis provision that allows countries to exclude from ACTA enforcement Small quantities of goods of a noncommercial nature contained in travelers' personal luggage.

...Read full article

Update: Criminalisation

27th June 2010. Based on article from boingboing.net

More leaks from behind the scenes at the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations: the EU is pushing for criminal sanctions for non-commercial copyright infringement. That means putting kids in jail for trading music with one another.

The ACTA agreement, by its opacity and undemocratic nature, allows criminal sanctions to be simply negotiated. The leaked document shows that the EU Member States are willing to impose prison sanctions for non-commercial usages of copyrighted works on the Internet as well as for 'inciting and aiding', a notion so broad that it could cover any Internet service or speech questioning copyright policies.

EU citizens should interrogate their governments about their support to policies that obviously attack freedom of speech, privacy and innovation. Around the next round of negotiations and beyond, ACTA should be restlessly combatted and opposed worldwide. concludes J้r้mie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

 

19th April   

Update: 3rd Strike for Ireland...

High Court gives go-ahead for Irish 3 strikes arrangement
Link Here  full story: International 3 Strikes Laws...File sharers threatened with loss of internet access

IrelandThe High Court in Dublin has given the go ahead for the music industry and ISP Eircom to implement a 3 strikes-style regime for suspected file-sharers. The private arrangement between the industry and the ISP had been held up over a legal objection, but that has now been waved aside by a judge.

In February 2009, IRMA – which controls 90% of Ireland's recorded music and represents the labels EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – reached a private agreement with Ireland's largest ISP, Eircom, which would see them implement a 3 strikes-style arrangement for dealing with alleged pirates.

A leaked documen provided background information on how the deal would operate: IRMA would supply IP addresses they believed to be connected with infringements to Eircom (collected by anti-piracy company, DtecNet) and the ISP would send warning notices to its customers who were allocated those IP addresses at the time of the alleged illicit file-sharing. Any customer receiving a third warning would be served with a termination notice and disconnected by Eircom.

However, the implementation of this groundbreaking agreement had been held up by a legal objection surrounding the legal standing of an IP address. But at the High Court in Dublin, Mr. Justice Charleton gave his ruling on the case and decided that an IP address is not personal data and gave the green light for the Eircom/IRMA 3 strikes arrangement to go ahead.

This announcement now paves the way for IRMA to go after other Irish ISPs to force them to implement the same type of arrangement.

 

18th April   

A Warning Shared...

File sharers targeted for extortion via malware
Link Here

Winny logoA new type of malware infects PCs using Japanese file-share sites and publishes the user's net history on a public website before demanding a fee for its removal.

The trojan installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni, used by up to 200m people. It targets those downloading copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime.

The virus, known as Kenzero, is being monitored by web security firm Trend Micro in Japan. Masquerading as a game installation screen, it requests the PC owner's personal details.

It then takes screengrabs of the user's web history and publishes it online in their name, before sending an e-mail or pop-up screen demanding a credit card payment of 1500 yen (£10) to settle your violation of copyright law and remove the webpage.

Website Yomiuri claims that 5500 people have so far fallen victim.

Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro said Interestingly we've seen a separate incident that focuses on European victims, he said.

A fictitious organization calling itself the ICPP copyright foundation issues threatening pop-ups and letters after a virus searches the computer hard drive for illegal content - regardless of whether it actually finds anything.

It offers a pretrial settlement fine of $400 (£258) payable by credit card, and warns of costly court cases and even jail sentences if the victim ignores the notice. However rather than take the money, the outfit sells on the credit card details, said Ferguson.

If you find you are getting pop-ups demanding payments to settle copyright infringement lawsuits, ignore them and use a free online anti-malware scanner immediately to check for malware, was his advice.

Update: Apprehended

29th May 2010. See article from tgdaily.com

Japanese police have arrested two individuals accused of spreading a nefarious piece of malware that stole personal information and posted it on the Internet.

The malware was reportedly spread via the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing network posing as an adult-themed Hentai game. Upon installing the program, victims were asked to enter their name, date of birth, contact details and other personal information

At the same time, information such as browser bookmarks were being stolen from the users' computer. At this point afflicted users probably didn't realise anything untoward has occurred. They later they received an email, asking for a fee to be paid to have the information removed.

Over 5,000 PCs had been targeted by the two extortionists.

 

18th April   

A Shared Consultation...

RIAA and MPAA make their suggestions to stop file sharing
Link Here

RIAA logoJust days after the US Government acknowledged that the entertainment industries have misled the authorities with bogus piracy reports, the RIAA and MPAA are using those same statistics to convince the copyright czar to transform the Internet into a copyright police state.

The PRO-IP Act is a United States law that aims to toughen current anti-piracy measures.

As part of the Act, there is a public consultation.  For this consultation the RIAA and MPAA have now jointly submitted their suggestions, calling for a future without piracy.

As expected, the submission starts with bitter complaints about the massive losses the entertainment industries have to endure because of online piracy. The same old bogus studies and reports are cited, publications that were heavily criticized and labelled as inaccurate by the US Government earlier this week.

If the RIAA and MPAA had their way…

  • The public would be encouraged to install anti-piracy software on their computers which would monitor their network for copyright-infringing materials. They are most likely referring to the Digital File Check application that they've been plugging for a while.
  • ISPs would have to allow third parties to spy on the files that are transferred by their customers and check them against a reference database of fingerprints to check whether the files are infringing copyright or not.
  • Torrent sites and file-hosters would have to preemptively filter content that is uploaded to or indexed by their sites. The reasoning behind this suggestion is that the regular notice and takedown procedures are time consuming and ineffective because content quickly reappears.
  • Search engines, hosting companies, payment processors, advertising agencies, social networking sites and domain registrars would be encouraged to team up with copyright holders in order to prevent online piracy.
  • Consumers and websites that repeatedly infringe on the rights of copyright holders would lose their Internet access.

 

11th April   

Not so Tough on Crime...

A Call for copyright infringing political parties to be disconnected from the internet
Link Here

Ashes 2 Complete DVD There's a degree of irony in the fact that as the Government rushed the Digital Economy Bill through Parliament, the Labour and Conservative Parties have themselves been accused of copyright infringement.

Both parties have been told to stop using campaign posters depicting David Cameron as DCI Gene Hunt from Ashes to Ashes by Kudos, the production company that makes the series. Kudos says that neither party asked for permission to use the image from the show.

At the time of writing, Labour says it hasn't received Kudos's letter and the Conservatives have yet to comment. Nevertheless, Kudos's position is clear: it is their image and they were not asked for permission to use it.

I have no idea why Labour and the Conservatives did not respect Kudos's intellectual property in this case. Perhaps it was all a misunderstanding or perhaps they just didn't think about the copyright issues. Quite often a small action, such as making a poster, sharing an album or ripping a CD to an MP3 player, feels like something that happens way below the scope of such a lofty thing as copyright law.

If it were up to me, I would tolerate these little slips but the Labour Government – and their Conservative opposition – don't agree. They want to take measures to combat piracy and ensure that intellectual property is protected. I suggest they make examples of themselves.

What will it be? A public apology acknowledging that they infringed copyright and shouldn't have done so? Disconnection from the internet for the duration of the election campaign? I think we should get an answer.

 

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