Tag Archives: Graham Burke

You keep what you kill

The business section of the Guardian had an interesting article yesterday. It comes from David Pegg and it is about targeting customers. In the article we see a prominent picture of Robert Redford (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/15/sky-broadband-customers-targeted-allegedly-pirating-robert-redford-film). So what is at play here?

Here we see ‘US firm TCYK, apparently named after film The Company You Keep, made Sky hand over details of customers accused of downloading movie‘, which comes with the opening quote “Dozens of UK broadband customers have received letters from a US firm accusing them of pirating a little-known Robert Redford film and inviting them to pay a financial settlement on pain of further legal action“. You see TCYK got a court order against Sky Broadband, which must now hand over customer details of those TCYK accuses of using torrent sites to download and distribute the films.

These people now get the offer of paying a hefty fine or end up in a legal battle.

So, how does that work in Australia? Well, here we depend on the Copyright Act 1968, where we see in section 36(1) “Subject to this Act, the copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is infringed by a person who, not being the owner of the copyright, and without the licence of the owner of the copyright, does in Australia, or authorizes the doing in Australia of, any act comprised in the copyright“, which means you made the movie, you are licensed to handle the movie, or you own the copyright, if you are none of these three, you become the infringer.

Now we get to the nitty gritty of the act (sections 43A and 43B) when we consider ‘temporary reproductions‘, which starts of nicely in section 43A(1) with “The copyright in a work, or an adaptation of a work, is not infringed by making a temporary reproduction of the work or adaptation as part of the technical process of making or receiving a communication“, with the crown part ‘temporary reproduction of the work or adaptation as part of the technical process’, which takes Sky Broadband out of the loop in all this, because Sky just sends packages from point A to Point B and as such, they do not keep any parts of that they communicate, they only keep the logs of what is communicated.

In subsection 2 of section 43A we see “Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to the making of a temporary reproduction of a work, or an adaptation of a work, as part of the technical process of making a communication if the making of the communication is an infringement of copyright“, which might put Sky in the hotspot, yet Sky is at this point an innocent disseminator of information (you know that anti-censoring part people all love), so Sky must prove that by handing over the records. This now counters the (what I would regard as fake indignation) from Michael Coyle, a solicitor advocate at Lawdit Solicitors, who stated regarding the act of Sky Broadband “They should be fighting tooth and nail not to have this information released”, to which I would state “Yes, because we should always protect the people engaging in illegal acts!” more important is the part that comes next “TCYK says that it hired a “forensic computer analyst” to identify IP addresses of computers that were making the film available online” so it seems that those watching the movie are not high on the list, it is about the distributors, those who made the movie available online. So there are two parts. The first part ‘temporary reproductions’, is a part we are still looking at, yet ‘distribution’, which we will also look at.

As Sky is protecting itself by showing themselves to be innocent disseminators, we need to see the logs, part of that is to give evidence that you (or they) are working on a temporary reproduction.

Temporary what?

OK, let’s take YouTube, when you watch a movie, a trailer, a TV Show, you are looking at a temporary reproduction. The movie is streamed into the memory of your computer and once the link is severed at ANY GIVEN MOMENT, the movie cannot be watched and it cannot be re-watched’ it must be pushed into the memory of your computer again. This is different from Torrent systems where a file, temporary or not is actually saved to your computer. This is the confusing part, whether it is a temporary file (what the people refer to as temporary) is actually ‘just a file’ that file remains on your computer, just like many other ‘temporary’ files.

I know, it is still confusing! Let me elaborate, when windows or a windows application needs to handle data, it created a file that changes all the time, we refer to them as temporary files. The UNIX reference is much better, they are called ‘scratch files’. So if you download a PDF, it will create a file, and that file will capture all the packages and add them together. That is done until the file is complete, when the download is completed the file gets written becoming the permanent file. This is the normal way for operating systems to work. The issue is that something is written (read: saved) onto your local destination, when this is done, it is by sheer definition no longer a temporary file. this is the part that is taken care of in Section 43A, now as long as there is no way to make the ‘temporary file’ work via an application of any kind, you can also rely on section 43B of the act where we see in subsection 1 “Subject to subsection (2), the copyright in a work is not infringed by the making of a temporary reproduction of the work if the reproduction is incidentally made as a necessary part of a technical process of using a copy of the work“. This now shows my explanation of temporary reproduction, where we refer to ‘incidentally made as a necessary part of a technical process‘, which could make that part a no go area, was it not for the first part where we saw ‘Subject to subsection (2)’, which is now the issue as this does not apply as per section 43B (2)(a) relying on both (i) which states “if the reproduction is made from an infringing copy of the work“, and the irritating use of the ‘or’ statement for (ii) “a copy of the work where the copy is made in another country and would be an infringing copy of the work if the person who made the copy had done so in Australia“, which takes care of any ‘border’ issues.

So, here we are with an infringed work, so what about the words of Michael Coyle?

Well, for this we need to look at Part V remedies and offenses, specifically ‘Division 2AA Limitation on remedies available against carriage service providers‘, which now puts poor poor old Sky Broadband in the limelight! It is a bit of a puzzle, but in short it amounts to “A carriage service provider must satisfy the relevant conditions set out in Subdivision D before the limitations on remedies apply” (a bit paraphrased), this is set in section 116AH, where we see that the carriage service must provide the following two elements for ALL category transgressions

  1. The carriage service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the accounts of repeat infringers
  2. If there is a relevant industry code in force—the carriage service provider must comply with the relevant provisions of that code relating to accommodating and not interfering with standard technical measures used to protect and identify copyright material

This is only the first of several elements that address the part that the Guardian stated “TCYK says that it hired a “forensic computer analyst” to identify IP addresses of computers that were making the film available online“, that part is also needed for Sky Broadband to prove that limitations ‘a’ and ‘b’ were adhered to. For this we need to take a look to a case (mentioned below) where we see at [697] “The question whether a person has supplied the means with which copyright has been infringed raises its own difficult issues. The primary judge concluded that the BitTorrent system was the means by which the appellants’ copyright was infringed. But I cannot see why the means with which the primary infringers committed acts of infringement must be so narrowly defined. The primary infringers used computers which were no less essential to their infringing activities than was the BitTorrent system. The same is true of the internet connections with which they made the appellants’ films available online

More important, at [505] we see “It follows that customers, by entry into the CRA, consented to iiNet disclosing and using information, including personal information as defined, for the purpose of iiNet administering and managing the services provided pursuant to the CRA. Part of that administration and management includes compliance with the CRA. In circumstances where iiNet has received evidence of breaches of its CRA (for example, cl 4.2(a) and (e)) the customer has necessarily consented to iiNet using information it possesses, including personal information, to determine whether to take action under cl 14.2 of the CRA“, which all comes from the case Roadshow Films Pty Limited v iiNet Limited [2011] FCAFC 23, which means that Sky Broadband is going through the motions iiNet in Australia went through 4 years ago. This is important, because the customer relationship agreement is a legal scope that the customer agrees to, which allows for disclosure and more important, now looking at the ‘limitation on remedy’ or bluntly put ‘the massive amount of money TCYK will demand of Sky Broadband if they cannot satisfy conditions’ is where we see actions from Sky Broadband to disclose information.

In addition we need to see the satisfied part “Any transmission of copyright material in carrying out this activity must be initiated by or at the direction of a person other than the carriage service provider“, that part is given by the logs as the viewer did the ‘click here to watch full movie‘, basically that means that the user initiated the act. In addition, there is “The carriage service provider must not make substantive modifications to copyright material transmitted. This does not apply to modifications made as part of a technical process“, showing that whatever solution was used, Sky broadband passed through the information as part of what it is supposed to do as an ISP.

In the end, this will be a messy battle and there is one part that holds less water. It is the statement “Nicolas Chartier, the president of Voltage Pictures, told the Hollywood Reporter this year that he had issued 20,000 lawsuits against individuals accused of pirating the Hurt Locker in order to “make a statement”. “The day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits, the internet downloads of Hurt Locker went down about 40%”“, I am not sure if that will be the end this time, Hollywood has been clasping down in several ways. We see the 10 movies that make a billion, but the hundreds of others that aren’t slicing the cake are not in there, as such Hollywood is now lashing out all over Terra ‘non US’ and we see that it will hit Australia too, even more direct when the TPP becomes fact, at that point having a computer with logs pointing to it with irrefutable evidence might literally cost you your house. There is one side in the TPP that remains undiscussed, especially, as I personally see it behind the closed doors of the TPP negotiations. In all this America relies on fair use, in all this they are eager to criminalise that what is not criminal within the US, it makes for another case.

If we accept the following “Some historians prefer ‘slave’ because the term is familiar and shorter and it accurately reflects the inhumanity of slavery, with ‘person’ implying a degree of autonomy that slavery did not allow for“.

Now we convert that sentence into “Some politicians prefer ‘user’ because the term is familiar and shorter and it accurately reflects the chargeability of usage, with ‘US consumer’ implying a degree of freedom that users are not allowed to have” This is as I see it exactly the core and the broken foundation of the TPP, there is no fair use and there is no accountability on the other side, by all means the TPP ignores the constitutions of more than one nation. This was raised by Alan Morrison in The Atlantic on June 23rd 2015 (at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/tpp-isds-constitution/396389/). The quote in question is “It is January 2017. The mayor of San Francisco signs a bill that will raise the minimum wage of all workers from $8 to $16 an hour effective July 1st. His lawyers assure him that neither federal nor California minimum wage laws forbid that and that it is fine under the U.S. Constitution. Then, a month later, a Vietnamese company that owns 15 restaurants in San Francisco files a lawsuit saying that the pay increase violates the “investor protection” provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement recently approved by Congress“, this is a situation that could be a reality.

You see, this relates to the case at hand in more than one way. In my view, TCYK has every right to protect its side, the movie it made and the revenue coming from that, so I am not against prosecuting copyright infringement at all. Yet, in all this the shift that TPP will allow for is a situation where ‘investor protection’ will bring a case which will be heard by three private arbitrators; the United States government is the sole defendant in that given scenario. More important, it will be a case brought by “investor-based expectations”, I think we can clearly see the link when we consider “Village Roadshow’s revenue and profits are below expectations, which was down 1.9% to $469.5 million for the six months to December. Net profit was lower by 26.2% to $13.34 million“, so in this case Village Roadshow blamed the weather, yet Village roadshow has blamed piracy on many occasions, so the moment we see a court case based on ‘investor-based expectations’, we should all become weary of this becoming an option the regain revenue from a mismanaged product (which is far-fetched but not out of the question).

So why these jumps?

  1. It might be a movie piracy case in the UK, but the result will hit Australia sooner rather than later and vice versa.
  2. Infringement is a growing ‘market’ and as such, especially in dire times, the industry at large wants to recoup parts of their losses due to infringement, yet will it truly hunt down the real perpetrators?
  3. Too many people rely on their ignorance and ‘they did not know’. This defence is now slowly but surely coming to an end, it is more and more an accepted rule that if you did not buy the article, or pay for it, how come you watched it?
  4. The TPP will change EVERYTHING! This closed door agreement is all about ‘indulging’ big business whilst big business is not playing the game fairly to begin with. In its core it can be seen as a discriminatory violation of ‘fair use’ and ‘constitutional values’.

In all this I jumped at Village Roadshow more than once. Personally I think that Graham Burke has been playing a lose rant game too often, whilst trying not to step on the toes of Telstra and Optus, but that might just be me! In addition, I have additional issues with Federal Attorney-General George Brandis regarding past events. This all links to an article last April in the Sydney Morning Herald (at http://www.smh.com.au/business/village-roadshow-wants-to-work-with-isps-instead-of-suing-movie-pirates-20150416-1mj8cd.html), where we see the quotes “The document centres on a “three strikes” system. An illegal downloader will get three warning notices before a Telco will help copyright holders identify them for potential legal action“, which sounds fine, yet in that part, if at any time the IP address was hijacked, there will not be any evidence absolving the accused person, so the one in court could be the victim in all this. In my view, this is a warped solution to the court case Village Roadshow lost against iiNet, meaning that other avenues need to be taken, which now reflects back to the UK case of Sky Broadband, which could hit Australian legislation. The next quote is “Federal Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull set a 120-day deadline last December for internet service providers and entertainment companies to create a binding code“, which is indeed central but not in the way reported on. You see, Telstra and Optus are all about bandwidth, the more you use, the better the invoice from their point of view. This is part of the move we see all over the internet in the last article I wrote regarding the short-sightedness of Graham Burke, in the article ‘The real issue is here!‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/06/17/the-real-issue-here/), which also reflected on the article ‘FACT on Piracy?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/01/03/fact-on-piracy/) from January 3rd 2014. These articles connect through ISP’s like Telstra and Optus who have been rescaling their bandwidth plans. The consequence of losing out on 4 billion a year. Now Telstra offers 50GB for $75 a month, smaller plans no longer exist, they have been pushing for new broadband boundaries so that their revenue is less impacted, so the impact of $40 and $80 a month is now decreased to an optional loss of $20 and $40 a month. It was (as I personally saw it) always about time and retrenching. It has been forever about big business! By the way, it is not just Telstra, others like iiNet have done the same thing, offering a new margin, reset to the width that has never been offered before. It is about rescaling the broadband plans, which results in resetting expectations and preparing for new data usage adherence.

You keep what you kill fits perfectly, it comes from the Riddick movies, which is basically the credo of a survivor, in this day and I agree, in this economy it is about lasting the longest and as such, they keep what they kill, which are the copyright infringers and their technologies. I do not oppose it, as I feel that owners of copyright are entitled to protect their assets. Yet, when we read Graham Burke we see “He said Australian film producers were trying to educate the public rather than sue them“, which might seem true enough, but behind that, I suspect, is the fear that if the Australian Copyright Act 1968 adds the ‘Fair Use’ principle, his education boat will sink on the spot, moreover, whatever US pressure we get from the TPP, gets drowned by Fair Use, because if it is good enough for Americans, it should be good enough for non-Americans too.

Last in all this is Matthew Deaner, executive director of Screen Producers Australia, who made a fair statement in the SMH article “They’re trying to say, ‘this is the right way to go about this stuff, this has a consequence to us’,” Mr Deaner said“, which we can get behind, yet the colourful rants by both Graham Burke and Sony executives on the utter non-realistic loss of billions is a consequence as well. By not properly and realistically setting the view, whilst, as I personally saw it, Sony executives were hiding behind excuses regarding missed targets that were never realistic to begin, which soured the milk of reality and reasonability.

Will this affect Australia?

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16 was settled in the High Court of Australia, yet the essential changes to copyright, the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership (once signed) will also impact the future. The lack of a ‘fair use’ clause is as I see it an essential first step to protect those not engaged in active copyright infringement as well as allowing for innocuous acts not to be struck down in favour of big business in a draconian way. In all this, US corporations have relied on unfair advantages, whilst overcharging people all over the non-US in a massive way is just beyond belief.

Even now, example, ‘Ex Machina’ is in the US $17, in the UK $20 (both Amazon), which is already a 20% offset, a title which cannot be bought in Australia. The US has segmented commerce to maximise profits, whilst not giving fair options to consumers. The fact that they still enforce multiple region codes to limit fair consumer rights is also not addressed. This is in part what drives piracy. If Mr Burke is so about educating, how about Mr Burke educating the other side of the equation? With video games where price difference can go up to 100% in difference between the US and Australia, a consumer grievance that Federal Attorney-General George Brandis never bothered to properly address. When we consider the issue of price fixing we see “Price fixing occurs when competitors agree on pricing rather than competing against each other. In relation to price fixing, the Competition and Consumer Act refers to the ‘fixing, controlling or maintaining’ of prices“, in this we see a loaded gun of different proportions. You see, Agreements between related companies are also exempt from price fixing, yet, when this difference is set at 100%, whilst the firms place technological restrictions (region codes) on products, as well as denying fair competition, largely pushed by American corporations, where is the fairness in any trade agreement?

If a trade agreement is about removing trade barrier, in that regard, the region codes should be regarded as detrimental to trade, but the TPP is not about equality, it is about giving the power to big business and limiting the rights of consumers, which is why partially because of created limitations movies and videogames are not equally and honestly made available. So as we look at what some can buy more expensive and others cannot buy at all, Mr Burke should in part refrain from stating that ‘one leg is education’ the other is regarding ‘products being available at the same time as other countries’, it would make him instantly paraplegic. Unfairness is what drives infringement. This was shown in the 80’s in Europe in a very direct way as games, movies and music were so unbalanced that a $450 ferry ride to London (from Rotterdam) could pay itself back during one VHS shopping spree (not to mention the price difference in games).

That same principle applies here, so if this is truly about stopping infringement than the first step would have been consumer equality. Yet this is about the US maximising its profits, counteracting whatever ‘free’ trade is supposed to do, so copyright infringement is not going away any day soon, it will soon create new situations, all because those involved seem to be about abolishing what constitutes a fair user, which is why the TPP should never come into effect.

You keep what you kill

The question is, who gets killed in the end, because as more true illumination is given, the bigger the question mark we see on what propels infringement. If there is one real upside to all this, it will be evolution, it will not take long for someone to change the premise of the game and design a new peer to peer cloud solution that resets the legal playing field.

Strife has always been the number one innovator in both war and technology, that part has not and will not change.

 

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Filed under Gaming, IT, Law, Media, Politics

Dark side of the moon

The Guardian ended up with an interesting article on Friday. The title ‘Malware is not only about viruses – companies preinstall it all the time‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/22/malware-viruses-companies-preinstall), it is a good article and Richard Stallman is a great man, but there are parts in this article that I have an issue with. Mind you, the man is not telling stories or lying, but he is showing one side of the coin. He is also reinforcing other sides to the software industry that are a definite issue.

The first part is a part I am completely in agreement with “In 1983, the software field had become dominated by proprietary (i.e. non-free) programs, and users were forbidden to change or redistribute them“, a side which I do not oppose. In addition there is “But proprietary developers in the 1980s still had some ethical standards: they sincerely tried to make programs serve their users, even while denying users control over how they would be served“, I have a partial issue with the last bit ‘denying users control over how they would be served‘. I disagree for two reasons.

The first is based on resources. In those days, an IBM PC was a massive behemoth, it had 256Kb memory and if you were really really rich, you also had a 10Mb hard drive. So, yes, the expensive personal computer had less resources then the cheapest $39 Non-smart Nokia phone. Go figure! By the way, that 10Mb hard drive was priced at $1499 in those days. So, user control was an issue, because resources did not allow for them, but soon thereafter, the 512Kb PC was released and there was so much we could do then! No sarcasm here, it was true! In those days I learned and mastered Lotus Symphony an excellent program! This was also a time when we started to get some choices in control, control remained limited, but some control was gained.

Next we see the first part that is an issue, even though he makes a nice point on End User License Agreements. I would like to add the Terms of service as a clear point here, but overall there is a part that is too coloured. The quote “So many cases of proprietary malware have been reported, that we must consider any proprietary program suspect and dangerous. In the 21st century, proprietary software is computing for suckers“.

I cannot completely disagree that Microsoft soured the market by a lot, it has done so in several directions, yet Corporate Earth is at times too stupid to consider growing a brain, which is also part of the problem. It is an element that is shown all over the place. The Netherlands, Sweden, UK, France, Germany, Denmark and even Australia (I worked in all those countries). Instead of sitting down and considering a switch to LINUX with open office, the IT and other elements are just too lazy and too under resourced to push for a change, so the users are no longer people, they are for the most mere meek sheep following the ‘corporate standard‘, which means that they too use windows and Office.

Another direction is the hardware world. Windows comes preinstalled, more important, Windows and Microsoft have been a driving force, forcing people to buy stronger and more expensive computers. Even though many users have not needed any need for more powerful and stronger hardware, Windows forced them to upgrade again and again. Anyone not into gaming and using their computer merely for office activities and browsing mail on the internet should not have needed to upgrade their computer for the better part of 10 years, but that is not the reality, go to any computer shop for windows hardware and we see how the ‘old’ ASUS, ACER, Lenovo, HP or Toshiba no longer hacks it. Which is actually weird, because if you reinstall your old laptop with LINUX and Apache Open Office there is a high chance that you will work in 90% of the time just as fast as with that new $2000 laptop on Windows 7. Setback? You have to install and configure it yourself. Upside? LINUX and Open Office are both free software, no costs and no fees!

Is it not interesting how companies are not jumping on that free horse? Why is that you think? In addition, with all the needs for government costs to go down, why are they not more pro-active to push for a shift towards LINUX? Is it security? This is also odd, because with the massive amount of non-stop security patches, Windows is not that secure to begin with.

So where do I disagree? Well the first clear quote is “Some are designed to shackle users, such as Digital Rights Management (DRM)“, I believe that if a firm makes software, it has every right to prevent illegal use, for a long time, how many people do you know that have a LEGAL version of Adobe? Even when the stars are in your favour. In many Universities, Adobe offers the entire master collection (all their software) for $400, which is an amazing deal! I got my legal versions of both Windows 7 and Microsoft Office Ultimate for an additional $199. Why not buy it? No many just find a download place and get the software for free, in addition you can get the codes. It goes even further that I stumbled on a place in Germany some years ago where they were offering the OEM stickers for PC complete with license key for 20 Mark. I could not tell the difference from the original sticker in the software box I had bought. Do you think that DRM would have been such a push if people just bought their software? I will take it one step further, I feel certain that if every person was charged $275 a year, we all would have the complete Adobe, Windows and Office programs free to download, with no need to illegally copy anything.

But there is still that other side. You see, I still believe that Microsoft and hardware providers have been forcing a technological armistice race upon the consumers, which now adds up to us all wasting resources on iterative junk we should not need. So even though I do not completely agree with Richard Stallman here, he does have a point.

Now we get to an issue that I actually faced without knowing it “Even Android contains malware in a non-free component: a back door for remote forcible installation or deinstallation of any app“, you see, I thought I was bonkers (which I actually are) but for some reason one of my apps had suddenly be removed and not by me. It was not something I needed. I had just downloaded it from Google play out of curiosity, but suddenly it was gone! In addition, on more than one occasion it just decided to update my apps, without my permission. When you have bandwidth issues, seeing a force upgrade which could cost you is not that nice a moment.

Yet, for the most, I remain a loyal fan towards Android, even though at times programs use background resources for reasons unknown, or are they unknown?

We get the next part from the quote “Even humble flashlight apps for phones were found to be reporting data to companies. A recent study found that QR code scanner apps also snoop“, there is a lot more at http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/ejsmith/scan.this.or.scan.me.2015.pdf; now we have ourselves a massive issue, although the paper shows that there is a prompt for GPS and the sending of GPS, none of them has the situation where they do not prompt for GPS and still send it. Eric Smith and Dr Nina A. Kollars who wrote the paper give us another consideration on page 8. There we see “Moreover, contemporary privacy norms are increasingly threatened as what initially appears to be signals of consumer preference slide further into determining bigger-picture life patterns and behavior. The term most commonly used to address this creeping phenomenon is the literature on consumer panopticism“, which now refers to ‘Gandy, Oscar H. The Panoptic Sort: A Political Economy of Personal Information‘. Before getting the book (which is worth the purchase), you might want to take a look at a paper by Adam Arvidsson, from the Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (at http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/articles1(4)/prehistory.pdf), you see, my partial issue with the article by Richard Stallman becomes slowly visible now. He is right in his view and his vision as he sees this, but you the user did this to yourself! You think that Facebook is ‘free’, that these apps are there merely for amusement (some actually are), their goal is income! Some work the Freemium game market, where games like ‘Book of Heroes‘ gives you a free game, but if you want to grow faster and better in the game, you will have to invest. For the most, these games will rely on the investment from $10-$25 to truly open up, which is, if you consider the amount of hours played still great value. Freemium games also come with that ‘try before you buy’ approach, as you can play the game, but to enjoy it, to get more moves and more joy a few dollars will be essential. The other part that relies on ‘captured data’ did they inform you? If not, there is an issue, but the app programmer will get his pound of flesh, either by cash of by data!

Yet the other side is also true, you see, as Richard mentions and as Adam Arvidsson report on, there are places like Red Sheriff, that rely on hidden script, which is more advanced/intrusive as it keeps track of ALL your online movements. You get this script as a ‘present’ when you visit one of its affiliated sites. Did you the internet user sign up for that? When we see the reference on who pushes this. We see “since most major commercial sites use Redsheriff“, which means that nearly all will somehow be tracked. I for one do not really care that much, but I never signed up for any of it, so should we see this as an invasion to our privacy?

This is where we see that freeware is almost never free.

Yet Richard also alerts us to another state of freedom, or lack thereof! In the quote “If the car itself does not report everywhere you drive, an insurance company may charge you extra to go without a separate tracker“. Can anyone explain to me why it is ANY business of the insurer where we are?

In the end, Richard states three parts, which are fair enough, but overall the issue is missed. The issues reported are:

Individually, by rejecting proprietary software and web services that snoop or track“, here I do not completely agree! I used Adobe as an example for a reason, there is simply no viable alternative, it only became worse when Macromedia bought Adobe (I know it is the other way round, but I will remain a faithful Macromedia fan until the day I die!), there is in addition, no tracking done by Adobe, other than keeping track whether you have a valid license, which I never opposed.

Collectively, by organising to develop free/libre replacement systems and web services that don’t track who uses them“, which I whole heartedly agree with, I am even willing to devote time to this worthy cause (not sure how I could ever size up to the hundreds of Richard Stallman’s, but I am willing to give it a go!

And last there is “Democratically, by legislation to criminalise various sorts of malware practices. This presupposes democracy, and democracy requires defeating treaties such as the TPP and TTIP that give companies the power to suppress democracy“, this is the big one. The political branches all over Europe and the Commonwealth have sold us short and have not done anything to properly enforce the rights to privacy. In addition, Google and Apple remains in a state of non-clarity on what data these apps capture and what they convey. In that regard Facebook is equally guilty. Facebook goes further that it does not even proper police those who claim to give a free app, only to no longer work, but when you went to the install the data is as I see it already captured by the app provider, which gives wonder to where that data went.

In regards to suppressing democracy, which is perhaps partially overstated, there is an issue with the TPP that seems to empower large corporations and nullify the protection to smaller innovators and even governments as the TTP wants to enforce “where foreign firms can ‘sue’ states and obtain taxpayer compensation for ‘expected future profits’”, how long until we get an invoice for overinflated ego’s? Especially from those people in the entertainment industry claiming the loss of so many billions in an era when the bulk of the population can hardly pay their rent!

I regard Graham Burke of Village Roadshow to be one of the greater jokes this era has brought forth. Consider who he is supposed to ‘protect’, he goes on regarding “‘crazies’ whose hidden agenda is the ‘theft of movies’“, which is not that far-fetched a statement, because movies will be downloaded and not bought, it happens, yet not to the degree Graham Burke claims it is! So we get him soon enough to claim billions from losses due to the massive download of ‘the LEGO movie’ perhaps? Yet in the public forum on copyright infringement, we did not hear him utter a word on bandwidth, perhaps the response from Telstra’s Jane Van Beelen would likely have been a little too uncomfortable Mr Burke?

You see, in my view it is less about the democracy as Richard Stallman sees it. The legal protection seems to be massively delayed as bandwidth is income, and when piracy is truly stopped bandwidth will simmer down. If we accept the word of Village Roadshow with global revenue of 13 billion since 1997. Yet, I wrote about movie piracy in ‘The real issue here!‘ on June 17th 2014 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/06/17/the-real-issue-here/), in the calculation, which I kept very conservative, Telstra could lose up to 320 million a month in revenue, due to diminished bandwidth, which gets us 4 billion a year. Consider that Village Roadshow is global, which means that Australian revenue is a mere fraction of that, how soon until they see that Village roadshow might only get 5-10 million a year more, against the 320 million a month loss for Telstra? So Mr. Burke is not regarded as a serious party as I see it (yet he is not an invalid party), Telstra would have too much to lose, not to mention the loss Optus and iiNet could face. However, if the TPP changes that with ‘expected future profits’, whilst there is absolutely no quality data to prove that the loss is nothing more than there ego’s talking.

There is the crunch that politicians are too afraid to touch!

Yet, in light of many factors, legal protection (including protection for Village Roadshow) is essential, yet the large corporations seem to hold the game to the need of their bottom dollar, which is the dollar, not democracy or decent rights. If it were decent rights than telecom companies would properly monitor abuse of digital rights, because the movie is for Village Roadshow to sell, or to stream for a fee via Netflix. I do not deny this at all, I just oppose the outlandish income some of them claim that they ‘lost’!

So on the dark side of the moon we see that (actually we do not see any of that) things are not right. I do not completely adhere to the idealist view that Richard Stallman validly has (we are all entitled to our views), but he touches on several parts that definitely need change and until we see a governmental push away from Microsoft solutions, we will see that the government will spend loads of money on never-ending updates to hardware and software. We all agree that such a change is not easily made, but in light of the cost of living, the fact that nearly no one makes that change is equally worrisome.

When we stare up to the sky we always see the same side of the moon, the dark side is wild, and is covered with impact craters, impacts we never see. It is a lot more reminiscent of the chaotic wild life of malware, a side that is constantly lacking the exposure it should have, mainly because it affects the bottom dollar.

 

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Changing topics?

It is Tuesday evening, I had been preparing some of my assignments when the two hour bell rang, it was time for a break. I am still ahead of what is needed, which means I can relax (only a little). For 4 weeks I have been doing my daily Uni work, so there is a moment to breath. This is good for now, so what to look at?

Well, I could take you down the road of a copyright driven Australia, yet, when we look at the facts, especially as presented by Brendan Molloy, councillor of Pirate Bay Australia, then a moment of depression hits me. We all speak in truths (or so I hope) and as such, so does he. I do not completely agree with his approach, but he makes a decent case. There are a few tweets he made as @piecritic that have reverberated in my own writings in the past.

  1. Brandis is known to have not met with any consumer representatives and stakeholders as part of writing this draft. #copyrightau“, which seem to give slightly more weight to the issues I posted on my blog on June 17th 2014 called ‘The real issue here!‘, when I wrote “This is at the centre of it all. From my point of view Mr Burke knows it, Mr Brandis knows it and Google, who has every profit with large broadband usage, knows it too. I think it is time for this sanctimonious posturing to stop” it was to state the issue that in the end this is NOT about copyright, this is about bandwidth and as such the Australian economy cannot survive another multi-BILLION dollar blow to it at present. I think that Attorney General Brandis DEFENITELY got spoken to (not speaking with) by certain stakeholders (off the record of course), yet these people do not want ANY visibility in the limelight at present.
  2. @piratepartyau made an FOI request for that data. They refused to release it. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/copyright_legislation_working_gr#incoming-2467 #copyrightau”, which seemed to link to “A question about data costs being absurdly high. Love it. #copyrightau“, this is an interesting side. In my previous blog and other events I focussed on the bandwidth, which is what an ISP should be able to monitor and as such they do not, or better, only monitor for billing purposes. This all takes another turn when we consider the tweet by Ed Husic, Federal MP for Chifley, Shadow ParlSec to @bowenchris. His Tweet is “Abbott Govt should tackle copyright, pricing, access simultaneously and not just @copyrightau 1st“.

Well first, to get it all straight, I am a Liberal, so basically in the Abbott, Hockey corner!

Yet, these people make a decent case. You see, I am not in favour of copyright infringement, so if we can stop illegal downloads then this is just fine with me (additional reasons to follow soon). The issue here is not just about copyright; it is in part the ludicrous idea of continuing the TPP. This is at the centre of strangling honest commerce in the near future. I am all for a better legal system that protects the owners of copyrighted articles that Burke represents, yet ‘the rants’ as Brendan mentioned gives way that he is angry because the ACTUAL profiteers are too strong and too powerful (read the ISP and large telecom companies). This is why we see these ‘packaged’ solutions by Optus lately, amongst others. They are trying to convert people to a package as they know that securing revenue now is becoming increasingly important to THEIR survival, this is not seen anywhere in clarity.

So prices are being partially dealt with and access is being transferred to the US via the TPP. If you consider that to be not true, then wonder why Microsoft is setting up 300,000 servers. Just for gaming? Please get a grip and be fast about it!

Consider the following, this was stated by developer Jonathan Blow, but he is not the only stating issues in this direction. “I can spin up 10,000 virtual servers per host. They would just all suck. Saying 300k when they are virtual is a lie“, this is a developer, my issue, since even BEFORE day one has been on the ridiculousness of certain claims. This has all to do with streaming media and entertainment. Microsoft introduced it, when the backlash came they changed tune and dance, so why is this continued? Because the change to a broadband Foxtel approach will FORCE people in the bandwidth and there is no more downloads (which I do not oppose), but there is also no more privacy, with which I have an issue. When you force consoles online for all the wrong reasons, then we can safely state that this is about monitoring”. As America was the land of the free, it is now quickly becoming the nation of the monitors, which is what a debt of trillions will get you. As stated before, i cannot understand the TPP for the life of me, it strangles digital freedom (actual freedom, not freedom to download illegally), it will strangle generic medication (not part of this discussion) and it will strangle local commerce (very much the issue at present).

Patrick Bach, producer behind Battlefield 4 has an additional view “I’m not sure how the cloud will work for real-time stuff, but I can see how it could work for non-real-time stuff where you need a lot of calculations”, monitoring is not real-time, but requires massive power, here we see a side of that what is monitored and how it requires many servers. By the way, consider that this, when (or if) this is up and running, that the monitoring power of Microsoft will exceed that of the NSA by a massive margin. It seems a little extreme for streaming TV shows and online players, doesn’t it?

Additional evidence comes from the Australian (at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/copyright-law-is-failing-to-keep-up-with-internet/story-e6frg9if-1227050705973, this link requires you to subscribe) “As a former chief financial officer, I follow the money: these schemes haven’t worked, because the content owners aren’t prepared to invest in their administration. If they were genuinely effective, surely the movie and television studios would be happy to throw resources at such schemes“.

Again, as a technologist this could definitely be done, yet this is not in the ISP interest at all, his fortune is all about bandwidth, reducing it costs him money.

This is why I thought that the entire action was a waste of time from before the very beginning. Until greed (read revenue) from the Telco’s is set straight, whatever deal comes, will come at the price of ALL valid users and for the larger extent at the cost of their freedom (read privacy).

Yet, in all the tweets, Brendan Molloy does repeat on many occasions the issue that is at the centre of it all “fix your business models“. This is at the centre, yet in all scenario’s several players lose out on revenue (and loads of it), in addition Australia is not even at the heart of the issue that is playing behind the screens. For people like Google and Netflix (where a few groups have a valued investment of over 10 billion), it is not Australia, but the UK where the big price is. Australia with its 10 million households is just a small individual away from the Commonwealth pack. Yet this does not just hit the bandwidth and download models.

In all this, I have one other link. This one http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/09/malcolm-turnbulls-anti-piracy-forum-live-blog-follow-the-news-as-it-happens/ shows us the entire copyright AU evening and when you read it, please try to consider the following:

  1. The words ‘Revenue’ and ‘Bandwidth’ did not get mentioned ONCE. You might think that with illegal downloads and copyright infringements that issue would come up at least once, but both iiNet and Telstra were extremely cautious to sail away from getting near it. In my view that forum did exactly what it needed to do, keep interest away from the TPP, bandwidth and where the actual money would be draining from.

All this is as I expected it to be and if you read my previous blogs then you would have read that pointlessness is next to greediness. Not grammatically correct, but highly accurate. Whether we see changes remains to be seen, but the moment the TPP comes into effect the changes will be massive and it is likely that this changes get announced whilst the ink of the autographs on the TPP agreement is still drying.

So, why is this about changing topics?

Well, the discussion seems to be about piracy, copyright and copyright infringement, but the topic that hinders all events (like revenue and more important ‘blood money’) is kept out of the discussion for now.

I have already discussed revenue in more than one place, so feel free to read the other blog article (The real issue here!, mentioned at the beginning) to catch up on it. What I have not talked about is the issue of ‘Blood-money’. It is not my phrase, but I have adopted it as it applies (to some extent). You see, this is not the price of the game, not the cost of doing business. It is the price of being there and staying alive. It seems pure and simple, but it is not. You see, the topic of micro transactions is a little more complex and as such it is important to distinguish between them.

  1. The good guys and girls!

Highest on my list is Blacklight: Retribution. It is released for the PS4, yet there is also a PC edition. The game is large and is FREE! So how do they make money? Well they rely on micro transactions. When buying stuff you have two options, you start low, but as you get through games and as your score is there, you get money, this money allows for low to medium styled weapons. They are not cheap so it will take a little time to acquire the cash. Yet, it is free and you have time, so this is all good. However, if you want that one piece, that ultimate weapon, the slamalamadingdong of all shotguns that will rip through flesh, bone and Kevlar as you squeeze of the right trigger of your controller, then you must purchase Z-coins. There is an off-set here. Partially I think that without Z-coins you will be in a long trial to get decent gear to oppose, yet consider that this is all multiplayer and for those who are not really into this, it means no $99 and this is good, you can invest $10 to get decent gear. I think the approach is pretty good in this economy. This approach is better than try before you buy and is a decent business model. There are others that do this too and some have too steep a curve of costs, but Blacklight seemed reasonable.

For the iPad there is ‘Elemental Kingdoms’. A game, which is free to play and as you play and win, you get coin, which allows you to buy packs with random cards. It is easy to play, the game looks extremely well and the artwork is amazing, the cards unlike with actual cards evolve as you invest in the card, making it more powerful. If you purchase gems with your own cash you can buy packs with more rare cards and better rare cards, which makes for better odds. New players will get double the amount of gems with their first purchase. a good approach.

So, this is the good model, some like it, some do not, but nothing is for free and this way you get the pleasure to try and the option to grow without spending a cent. Those eager to step forward quicker can place $10-$25 and get a head start.

  1. The demons

Here we have the bad side. Whether we go after the Forza games, Gran Turismo or the classic which should now be regarded as an utter joke on the iPad! Prices range from roughly $7.5 for 500,000 in game credits to $75 for 7 million credits. Now consider that one car could cost you 20 million credits, which would be one of the extreme top cars, but that means one additional car at around twice the price for the whole game. How is this even considered sane? This pales by comparison when we see a great classic like Dungeon Keeper seems to push people to invest vast amounts of money into gems so that the player can get anywhere. This is free-to-play?

These are two extremes, yet how does this relate to the initial issue?

This is where the future takes us. The market on many levels is pushing for micro transactions on all fields. Whether it is an app or just a service, it is not just a worry, the future as we see it comes again from the Apple Market. This is not just the versions of the iPhone6 (plus or not), but the other options like the Apple Watch, where we see an interaction between watch and phone. This sounds like a decent gimmick, yet did you consider the exploitation of the consumer through services via micro transactions as well as the events we get as Apple collects all this data? It is not just Apple, where one goes Google will follow and the entire debate we saw on copyright now gets a whole new meaning as people on a global level sign up for ‘services’. This is where packaging of services will truly get a consequence. What if you have Foxtel?

Now we revisit the following statements:

Ed Husic: “Abbott Govt should tackle copyright, pricing, access simultaneously and not just @copyrightau 1st

Brendan Molloy: “fix your business models

Jonathan BlowSaying 300,000 servers when they are virtual, is a lie

I think that the business models have been adjusted, yet I think the adjustment is moving in a very dangerous direction. The Ed Husic nail is getting hit by a massive hammer; there is, at the core of these changes a need to immediately revisit pricing and taxation sides. You see, the ‘micro-transactions’ might seem small, but it reflects on the dangers we face how the frog will not jump out of the pot when the water is slowly brought to a boil, when we react to micro transactions, we will react too late. In this economy we need to make sure the consumer is protected as well as the national coffers, because when Apple and Google start their $0.99 a month service per service we will be hoisting millions a month outside of Australian tax shores, whilst at the same time collecting all that data to be resold and analysed at the other end giving them additional billions in revenue. The Privacy act will not guard us in any way for this new consumer wave. This all brings me to the question, how much do Telstra, Optus and iiNet know at present? Does the intelligence community realise this change of data and how can they keep track of some of the more shady events. Last but not least, when ‘3rd party’ people start pushing out data apps, how can this tsunami of data even be sifted through?

The final part will get us to the conclusion (at (at http://thenextweb.com/apple/2014/09/01/this-could-be-the-apple-icloud-flaw-that-led-to-celebrity-photos-being-leaked/) we see that last week someone took a look at certain events. and it gives us this quote “The vulnerability allegedly discovered in the Find My iPhone service appears to have let attackers use this method to guess passwords repeatedly without any sort of lockout or alert to the target. Once the password has been eventually matched, the attacker can then use it to access other iCloud functions freely“. As stated, this is not a fact at present, but it does give serious voice to the hacked phones.

Things you might think that have no bearing, but as we consider the case of the 101 naked celebrities (like Disney’s Dalmatians for adults), what else can outsiders get access to when people start using these new gadgets? If we consider that the financially well off start using these innovations first, how long until this clear target becomes a target of interest to the cyber-criminal?

So many issues linked to the changing topic. My question, what topic SHOULD have been debated? This is not about copyright perse, but that links to all of this, it is about a missing league of securities that endangers the lives of many Australians and none Australians alike. It is a change to facilitate for profit and data to be handed to big business at the expense of our personal, social and economic safety. Sides many seem to ignore.

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The real issue here!

Last night, just as I was about to break my own record in snoring, a message appeared on my screen. As I tend to be more curious then is good for me, I took a look. It was the article at http://advanced-television.com/2014/06/16/australian-media-chief-lambasts-google-over-movie-piracy/.

So this morning, as the dream of being with a ginger haired girl with a passion for playing Diablo 3 fades away, I decided to have a go at this article (we must keep a priority for interesting dreams first).

The title itself is interesting ‘Australian media chief lambasts Google over movie piracy‘, being honest here, using the word ‘criticising‘ instead of ‘lambasts‘ would have made the article every bit as ‘strong’ but would have implied less posturing, because that is what seems to be happening here.

The quote “Our Attorney-General George Brandis is attempting to reform our copyright law. Meanwhile Google, one of the multi-national companies attempting to avoid paying tax here, is lobbying in Canberra to stop this, by putting forward the following six fundamentally misconceived arguments” is also interesting, for reasons I will return to later.

The six points are given and the points made are to some regards highly hilarious. In point one we see: ‘piracy legislation would have little effect‘ and ‘they would no more illegally download than go into a department store and steal a book or a DVD‘. Is it really? Then why is Game of thrones the most pirated series in internet history? People can buy the series on DVD and Blu-Ray. Google’s point seems to be made by the comment ‘It may be the most pirated show, but it can break sales records too!‘ which was in a Yahoo article. Forbes gives us another part of this equation (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/04/15/game-of-thrones-sets-piracy-world-record-but-does-hbo-care/). The episode in question was downloaded 1.5 million times (a number that will be important soon). What we can say for certain is that according to figures almost 200,000 copies of series three were sold in week one, breaking records for well over a decade in place. So, almost 20% end up buying the discs (implying 80% will not).

I think that the Google argument has been seriously debunked at this point.

The second point is about legislation being for big business. Not only is this incorrect as the response showed, more important, legislation would oppose big business as will be shown soon enough and it would also hurt Google. This is closely followed with statement three where we see a reference to impeding ‘new’ business models. Actually it is impeding a very old model, but I will get to that. The response using the quote from Steve Jobs ’from the earliest days at Apple, I realised that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software we’d be out of business‘ is indeed true, yet, the one part no one answers (only implies) is in regards to the application of the Intellectual Property.

The fourth issue is a strong one and as I see it both are dancing around the issue here. It is not as Google suggested ‘an availability and pricing problem’, but the reference towards the music industry is also not correct as I see it. For a long time it had been about ‘availability and pricing‘ as Google correctly stated, but more important it had been for a long time around overheads. The gaming industry in Australia is proof of that. In Australia we pay on average 60%-100% more than in the US and in return we also get a lot less for it. How often do we see games that truly offer exclusive options that are NOT available in the US? That list is a very long one for most of the NON-US nations and it used to be the same for music in non-US nations. So it was often not about pricing, but about a lack of global fairness in pricing.

Issue 5 is made by both sides; it is so moreover for the reasons we will see soon enough. It is not because of the hypocritical ‘US view’ that opposes certain issues and views we see too often and not because of, and I quote ‘advertising models that almost totally promote pornography, gambling and scams‘. It is however because these markets represent billions in dollars of revenue, and many of these places will pay their taxes as (and if) applicable. One does not bite the hand that feeds the IRS ever!

The last one is the bomb as they say it. The mention of ‘Google says the proposed three strikes policy is too Draconian‘. Is that really so? We should all take a look at the Google approach of people getting banned on AdSense. I can tell you now, there was no strike two (or three for that matter), the quote I read “I’m really disappointed on Google support on this matter, there are no email addresses or real people to talk to” shows an approach even more Draconian then their view of Draconian as one might say. There could be valid reasons on some banning, but the issues I saw were not in that direction and in this instance Google is preaching a ‘pot calling the kettle black approach’.

So six issues of fun and frolic, but where is this going to?

In my view both are dancing around the options. It is my view that Attorney-General George Brandis had put his hand in a Hornet’s nest to say the least and now he is dancing with other people in some version of musical chairs. The powers behind all this do not want the change that some legally want. It is my view that Graham Burke, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of Australian media group Village Roadshow does know what is actually going on, but he is not willing to say it out loud, even though he is representing those artists and people behind the entertainment industry. I had raised similar issues before. I did so on January 3rd 2014 in my article ‘FACT on piracy?‘ In my view going after certain groups was just plain stupid, for obvious reasons, yet there is another side to all this. You see, the Attorney-General realised that the consequences if pursued would be dire indeed. Even though Mr Burke does not want to hear this argument (for obvious reasons), but the people in charge do not care that The Castle, Red Dog and Muriel’s Wedding were downloaded 50,000 or even 100,000 times. Even if 10% would buy it (that is a strong if here), it amounts to $50K or even at the most $250K, which would be a decent part for the artists as they are entitled to part of this. You see, the Hornet’s nest is the consequence for companies like Telstra, Vodafone, iiNet and Optus. It is that part no one wants to touch. Australia has roughly a little over 80% online. If we use the numbers of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, then we are looking at a little over 12 million connections. Should we accept the statements at http://www.news.com.au/technology/third-of-australians-admits-they-download-movies-illegally/story-e6frfro0-1225786870239, which now seem to imply that 4 million people download movies illegally. If this is stopped then these 4 million people would decrease their broadband plan, by $40 and up to $80 a month. This is the real number! These Telco’s would now collectively miss out on $160,000,000 to $320,000,000 EVERY MONTH! If managers at some of these telco’s are rated on their value, how long until they are out on the street when they end up having to tell their stakeholders the following: “the good news: movie piracy is no more, the bad news: you miss out on a quarter of a billion in revenue every month from now on!
It should be quite the show and I will sell tickets and popcorn when it happens.

This is at the centre of it all. From my point of view Mr Burke knows it, Mr Brandis knows it and Google, who has every profit with large broadband usage, knows it too. I think it is time for this sanctimonious posturing to stop. The internet is bandwidth and the more we need, the more we get charged. It is the cost of doing business and morality falters where profit takes a centre seat. Google has a vested interest in all this. If we look at http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/12/12/googles-youtube-ad-revenues-may-hit-5-6-billion-in-2013/, we see that Google is set at the centre of a large web of connections. If Google’s value is partially dependent on bandwidth usage (as it has been implied often enough), then laws that could cut down massively on usage are definitely not in Google’s best interest. Australia, is less likely any more than a blip on the global radar (which makes the current efforts shown by Google interesting as well). Yet, if Australian laws are successful, it could start a change in other common law nations and that would scare Google a lot.

So, we see the players, but in my view, the real issues are for now hidden from view by all players, because the loss for the collected companies in Australia is too large to contemplate and they do tell certain people what is not acceptable, those getting told tend to listen to the few that can destroy their future.

 

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