Saturday, October 31, 2009

News Roundup - October 2009

Aussie censor wants power to ban iPhone apps

Music Pirates are Immoral Cheapskates, Or Are They?
Copyright Threats Against Compulsive Singer Withdrawn
Special Interests See ‘Classified’ Copyright Treaty; You Can’t
Universities in hot water over students' peer-to-peer sharing
Warner Says Harry Potter Dinner Infringes Copyright
Culture minister confirms court oversight for UK disconnections
Anti Piracy Laws and Lawsuits Fail to Change Social Norms
Sony CEO Pleads Poverty But The Movie Industry is Loaded
A billion streamed videos per day, $0 in bandwidth costs
TV Boss Set To Drop A File-Sharing Bomb On Digital Britain
MPAA Fires Three Anti Piracy Bosses
Parliamentary Comms Group Says ‘No’ to UK 3-Strikes
Leading UK Cinema Implements MPAA Laptop Ban
70% of British Public Oppose Disconnecting File-Sharers
Apple unbans banned 3G TV app
Pirate Bay appeal slips into next year
BBC Trust boots 'Open iPlayer' plans into touch
EU will consider new copyright exception for book scanning projects
China's new strategy puts intellectual property first
Lily Allen exits Twitter, bins BlackBerry
Home Office backs down on net censorship laws
Motown legend's message for the Pirate Party
Landmark ISP piracy case could kick thousands offline
Judge rebukes copyright enforcer in ringtone case
YouTube signs landmark deal to screen Channel 4 shows
Google takes on Amazon with book downloads
Pirate Bay Takes Bias Claims to Supreme Court
AFACT v iiNet: Day 8 – Anti-Piracy Evidence Lacking
RIAA and MPAA Can’t Stop BitTorrent, Study Finds
Alleged Pirate Walks Free Under New Anti-Piracy Law
Labour MP: Disconnecting File-Sharers is Futile
P2P Site Coalition to Help Indie Filmmakers

Monday, October 26, 2009

(FM) Massive Tools becomes Industry Tools

What is the world coming to? Musicians everywhere are putting down their microphones/lip synching devices and squaring off against one another over the issue of punishing file sharers.

Following talk in Europe of disconnecting persistent file sharers from the internet, several artists, including Annie Lennox and Tom Jones, formed a group known as the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and began to publicly oppose the major record labels' desire to punish individuals.(1) A rather brave move you would think and one that should have all major stakeholders (big labels, artists, government and consumers) reassessing their positions. In fact, in an ideal world this could have been the spark that ignited a flame of copyright reform.

Then along came James Blunt, whose soppy music and watery vocals would be enough to put out the Sun, and decided to throw in his two cents.(2) So now the debate has been obscured almost completely by the preening of various pro-Industry singers.

Lily Allen, the popular singer of "The Fear" and "Not Fair", showed her true colors when she piped in with a condemnation of file sharers, by plagiarising someone else's opinion!(3)

Essentially, the arguments on either side can be broken down into: Pro-Industry - every illegal download is equal to a lost sale and must be stopped at all costs because if no one ever paid then there's be no music by your favorite artist to listen to. Anti-Industry - the labels are being stubborn, downloads can do wonders for an artist when it comes to word of mouth publicity and severe punishment by the government of individuals just isn't groovy.

While the music world is divided today I'm sure that they'll all be best of friends again when it comes Christmas time and the world is looking for the next Charity Number One single. Until then, the final word has to go to Dan Bull. Watch the video. Amazing, something I would be willing to pay for online!


(2) James Blunt: Disconnecting Music Pirates is “Critical”
(3) File-Sharing Heroine Lilly Allen is a Copyright Hypocrite

UPDATE - this post (originally found here) was picked up on Blawg Review #232

Sunday, October 18, 2009

(FM) "I'm not Blockbuster Boy"*

I'd like to discuss a news story that particularly annoys me. The story proclaims that Blockbuster is to close as many as 960 of its stores in the US as a means of streamlining their operations. That's up to 960 stores worth of employees that are going to be unemployed.

The reason that I am so irate is that the biggest reason for the closures is bad business management. The board of Blockbuster can't just blame their failures on the lousy economy. Sure they've been hit, but what happened to escapist industries supposedly thriving during a recession. Instead Blockbuster is limping along. The real reason for their poor performance is that they have clung to a traditional business model for too long and only attempted to jump on the bandwagon of new ideas when they had already passed them by.

I am of course talking the rise of internet television, and mail-DVD renting services, i.e. Netflix, DVD vending machines, e.g. Redbox and on Demand cable television services. Numerous other companies providing services that Blockbuster should have been in a prime position to come up with years in advance. How did Blockbuster miss all of these opportunities? Why aren't they coming up with something new/better, not just carbon copying the aformentioned other companies' ideas?
This is indicative of a wider failing of traditional industries to refuse to progress with the times, e.g. the copyright industry's unwillingness to welcome advances in technology. And the results speak for themselves.


Blockbuster to close up to 960 stores


(*Quote from Johnny Depp)

Friday, October 16, 2009

(FM) Piracy - The Who, The How and The Y?

“The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate.”(1)

For my first post I would like to shed some light on the topic of internet piracy. It is a topic that is surrounded by much controversy and misinformation and so this discussion may prove useful to people who would like to know, just how serious the "problem" of piracy is.


"Pirate" is a very subjective word. For some it conjurs up romantic images of adventure on the open seas, for others it means blood-thirsty criminality. The copyright industry has made very skillful use of the word in applying it to people who download music/film/tv via the internet. However, calling a teenager who sits in front of a computer and clicks on a mouse a pirate is ludicrous when you consider that an accurate definition of a pirate is "A robber on the high seas; one who by open violence takes the property of another on the high seas; especially, one who makes it his business to cruise for robbery or plunder; a freebooter on the seas; also, one who steals in a harbor"(2). The fact is that the whole copyright regime is predicated on using words in non-traditional ways. The word "theft" is another example, defined as "the felonious taking and removing of personal property"(3), and yet the copyright industry insists that theft of copyright needs neither a taking nor a removing (the original digital copy never leaves its server).

Regardless, subverting words is popular amongst lobbyists whose job it is to see that legislation enacted is favorable to their position. The system of government in the USA is designed for this to be the case. However, I would argue that the copyright industry may be going too far in their attempts to protect their rights, to the extent that blatant lies are being told.

One particular example is the recent news (LINK) from the UK that claimed 7 million British people engage in online piracy. A huge number for a country with a population of approximately 60 mllion. After an investigation by the BBC it was discovered that the 7 million figure was arrived at after relying on a previous study carried out on behalf of the British Music Industry, as well as a habit of drastically rounding up statistics. The most troubling aspect of this story is that the report was commissioned by the UK government.

So in answer to the first question, who are the pirates? They are an indeterminate number of people with internet access instead of parrots, but who do probably have scurvy from a lack of fresh fruit.


Internet piracy covers many acts, including but not limited to; downloading songs, downloading movies, downloading tv shows, circumventing DRM measures, uploading copyright material, etc.
As for the how? All you need is a computer, an internet connection and the ability to use a search engine.

On my own blog I give the following example:

"According to Nielsen ratings...the most popular cable television show in America is "The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick, with almost 7 million viewers. When you enter the search term 'watch "the closer" online free" in Google you return 963,000 hits. Clicking on some of these links will bring you to websites where full episodes have been posted by other individuals. You can watch these episodes, hosted on websites such as youtube and dailymotion, for free, without commercial breaks and whenever you choose."(4)


I am 25 years old and so I have been lumped in with the geoup of people known as Generation Y, AKA the Millenial Generation, Generation Next and, my particular favorite, the Echo Boomers(5).

We are generally computer savvy but are more vulnerable to the present economic downturn (LINK).

Oh, and we're not actually stupid. Although the copyright industry's new approach (LINK) to the prevention of copyright theft would suggest that we had no idea that when you pay full price for an artist's album you are actually supporting them and the music that you love. Gone is the heavy hand of the copyright industry of old, the one that would have you arrested for "facilitating" the theft of copyright material(6), replaced it seems with a "oh you silly misguided fool, can't you see how your actions are hurting the ones you love?"

Of course the copyright industry has once again misrepresented the situation. Most profit is generated from ticket sales to concerts, not the sale of individual cd's (7). The copyright regime is not encouraging the creative talent of artists, instead it is devoted to ensuring massive payouts to the industry that is charged with distributing the final product (intended to recoup a cost that is now largely irrelevant since the internet makes it so much easier and cheaper to distribute digital material).


So there you have it. Internet piracy is whatever you want it to be. Provided you are the copyright industry. A true case of might makes right. It's enough to make you say "Aaargh".









Thursday, October 15, 2009

Moving Forward Part 2

My time guest blawging on is over and so over the next few weeks I will be reposting my work on this blog (perhaps with some minor updates). You can find them by looking for (FM) in the title.

My thanks go out to Stephanie Soondar for the opportunity, and congratulations to her on a very unique blawg.

Original Posts

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Copyright Czar

If you have a Drug Czar who is charged with overseeing the war on drugs, then does that mean a Copyright Czar will be devoted to waging war on copyright?!

Probably not, but I guess we will find out soon enough if Obama's pick, Victoria A. Espinel, is confirmed by the Senate.

Espinel is a scholar with an impressive pedigree when it comes to intellectual property education and trade.

Read more HERE

One last thing, the Pro-Intellectual Property Act that created the new position also allows for the creation of an elite FBI piracy unit. And, of course Hollywood is excited.