Monday, 27 July 2009
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose.."
I'm off in search of the Piggy-wig...
.. but the world I'm sure will still be here when I get back.
Normal service will be resumed shorly.....
Sunday, 26 July 2009
As part of the provisions for the revised Hadopi legislation there is the opportunity to introduce surveillance of communications - including e-mail. The motive is to be unbiased - so that it is not just peer to peer traffic that is being monitored for copyright infringement. So maybe they should read all your mail as well??? ... just to see you're not including anything naughty?
Don't these people have any sense of what it is they are doing?!?
Friday, 24 July 2009
As reported by the Open Rights Group,
"None of this takes place through a court. The ‘evidence’ is not examined and cannot be disputed. Users have to accept responsibility for the alleged infringements in order to be reconnected."
What is taking place is a form of 'three strikes' policy - with a disturbing lack of judicial oversight. Three strikes proposals in France that were based on a government agency making assesssments have been struck down as unconstitutional and breach of individuls rights -yet here we have a private company taking on the responsibility to police copyright with no mandate or judicial revue whatsoever. Forcing people to sign confessions to get reconnected to the service is something the mafia would be proud of...
Contrast this with the how Swedish ISP Ephone is in court to defend the interests of it's subscribers. One of the issues there is the quality and validity of the 'evidence' provided by media companies of illegal activity. How are Karoo making their judgements?
Bear in mind that the subscription holder may not be the offender - and that this policy impacts everyone in a household not just an alleged offender - and you can see that this is just not a defensible policy.
Cease and desist!!
The Pirate Party & Piratpartiet are working for copyright reform, and an individuals rights to privacy.
What would I think of these measures if I lived under a dictatorship - or some other less enlightened form of government? There is a risk that circumstances can change at home, and powers brought in in good faith could be misused in the future. More than that though there is a good chance that other countries around the world will use our behaviour as a justification for introducing powers that might not be so benignly employed.
The latest example of this was Iran's decision to introduce something equivalent to the EU's Telecom directive - which will allow them to monitor, amongst other things, where people surf to. The law will allow them to tackle 'cyber crime', but what else might it be used for?
Fundamentally, the rights of free speech and privacy are not served by governments keeping track on what we see, think or do. Technological advances are making it possible to monitor every aspect of our lives - but just because we can doesn't mean we should.
Western society, with high ideals on human rights needs to set a shining example... and remember that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. .
The Pirate Party & Piratpartiet - Putting privacy first.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
The decline of the pub trade is probably a result of the rising sales of digital media. Everyone is at home watching cable TV, pay to view films, listening to music and playing games. Therein lies the rub... you can't buy films and music AND spend it on beer.
In the linked article is the quote "we no longer wish to be forced to give away property without having granted permission." which I find frankly bizarre.
My view on this is that, following the model set by the film and music industry the press have decided it is easier to lobby their way to a profit than to find a way to run an effective web based business. A key complaint is that aggregators and search engines are making money out of linking to their content and they want to be able to charge for content re-use.
But consider that:
- Newspapers today make substantial use of free sources (reporting on news coming from 'citizen journalists', blogs and similar sources) and cross citation from other papers, TV and radio
- Restrictions on reporting and citation are a limitation of free speech.
- Many newspaper websites make substantial use of user generated content - blogs and user comments - to attract readers.
- A newspaper is not forced to put items on the web.
- Many publications already make some or all of it's content available on a registration only or subscription basis - like the Financial Times, Economist and New Scientist for example.
- Search engines and aggregators drive traffic to newspapers. They provide free advertising for the newspapers.
- Search engines link rather than copy material.
- A website can simply prevent it's content being included in search engines - they just don't want to.
- Nothing is stopping newspaper sites themselves providing news aggregation to increase their coverage and share of advertising revenue.
More laws aren't the answer.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
The BBPA are quick to point the finger at increased regulation and taxation as the cause for the decline - althought without actually researching why people are not going to the pub it is a bit bold to come to a conclusion. Other reports - you can find it in the Times, Financial Times and The Telegraph for instance - raise other factors into the equation.
City pubs are faring much better than country pubs, and pubs focussing on food are doing better than those that are out and out drinkers pubs. One report suggested that tied* pubs are particularly hard hit, suggesting that it is monopolistic practices in the brewing trade that are at least as much to blame as government tax policy, and the high level of rents are a long standing issue of concern for landlords.
But.. go back to the beginning and read again... 24 000 jobs lost in the pub industry. Real jobs. People that worked last year that don't have the same job this year. Now compare that with the estimated cost to the economy of free downloads in the UK. A postulated four thousand jobs lost in 2004.
So... the crisis at your local is hurting the economy six times more than any potential loss of sales to file sharing. Remember that the next time someone down the pub starts rattling on about the costs of piracy.
Music is small beer... go have another pint!
*A tied pub is independantly run, but under obligation to buy beer from a particular supplier - often above the market rate.
The Pirate Party & Piratpartiet are working for copyright reform. Can't you add cheap beer to the manifesto guys?
Speaking out legitimately is harder if you don't have the resources to defend your rights in court - self censorship comes into play and society loses out in the process. It's a theme picked up and discussed in more detail on Heresy Corner. Well worth a read..
Monday, 20 July 2009
Looking just at the latter case… a quick look at the MP3licensing site shows that if you gross more than $100 000 dollars a year you need to pay a 2% licensing fee. Now MP3 is really nifty stuff so you might think two percent is not that unreasonable… but let’s think about my streaming business. Let’s say after all my costs are in I might be aiming for a profit of ten percent on turnover… That means that a two percent license cost eats a fifth of my profit. Or put another way… four days a week I work for my shareholders, and one day a week I work to pay off the MP3 license fees.
So… Free music anyone?
“Ogg Vorbis is a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology with all the benefits of Open Source.”
So why isn’t everyone using .OGG?
And don't forget.... The Pirate Party & Piratpartiet are working for patent reform
(NB: I haven’t checked out the norm for profit levels for streaming music businesses.. treat this as an example, and if you have real numbers let me know)
Friday, 17 July 2009
Facebook is great... But as every user needs to understand, it can give away lots of information about your private life.
You might think it it only your friends that see your data so what's there is Ok. But consider that Canada's criticisms hinge mainly on controls over information that goes out to all those third party application providers... Who was it you gave perrmission to to read your profile data - do you really know?
We often don't think how 'innocent' information may be used. This second post, though anecdotal, shows that even just showing pubicly who your friends are may be just a little too much information in the wrong hands.... We know who your friends are...
Privacy matters.... Which is why The Pirate Party and Piratpartiet are campaigning to protect the individuals right to privacy.
The principle still stands… but human rights do matter. They matter because we choose to make them matter. We choose to live our lives according to principles. How we expect to be treated is how we should expect others to be treated.
People and governments do what they can get away with. But rights matter… and that means that each of us has a responsibility to see that they don’t get away with breaching our rights – not individually and not collectively.
Rights come with responsibilities – and our responsibility is to see that everyone gets to enjoy the same rights that we enjoy and take for granted.
Inactivity is acquiescence.
..supporting Bloggers Unite for Human Rights 2009
Thursday, 16 July 2009
A translation of the speech by Jakop Dalunde of the Young Greens (Grön Ungdom Riksorganisationen) from yesterday's demonstration in Humlegården, Stockholm.
"Many before and after me will talk about the Stockholm programme's content, on technicalities and details. That is important, because that is where the devil sits. But we must also raise our eyes and see the broader picture.
The surveillance laws that are now being pushed through not only have direct consequences for privacy, but it also affect how we see each other and society at large. We are gathered here today because we know there are no terrorist threats that justify the extent of repressive measures. We do not accept the problem image of hordes of illegal immigrants who must be hunted down.
But I am sadly afraid that the surveillance lobby's propaganda will affect millions of Europeans' views on terror and migrants, and eventually change our whole society. More and more people will believe that migrants are fundamentally a problem and it is actually a terrorist lurking behind the next corner. An important part of the Stockholm program is cooperation with the U.S. so we can check what the terrorist threat debate had for consequences there.
In Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9 / 11 he travels to a small town in the middle of nowhere and interviewing citizens on the street about how they see the terrorist threat. The interviewees respond that they are afraid, and that they now live differently and look out for what could be suspicious. And when Michael Moore then asks what they think would be the target for terrorist attack in this little town, and an interviewee pointed to the local Wal-Mart store, then it is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry.
An example from a major city, New York. When I was there last spring, it struck me how the terrorist threat embraced their society. Cameras everywhere. In the entrance to all shops there were big signs that said "If you suspect terrorism, call this number". Can you imagine seeing a sign like that every time you shop for food? It affects your mentality. It makes people close up, when instead we should open up.
It is not only morally right to open Europe's borders for migrants, we also have a duty under the Geneva Convention to allow asylum seekers the opportunity to test their right to protection. But what is happening right now is that the EU's refugee hunters Frontex stops most of them before they reach the border to, with immigration minister Billström's words "jointly and severally accept responsibility for those who come to Europe". The newspeak is strongly provocative.
I think there were many of us who rucked our eyebrows when justice minister Ask today said "the EU summit must strengthen citizens' privacy." Or try on this sentence, "Our hope is that individual rights and privacy should be strengthened within the EU through the Stockholm programme."
This undermines not only the Swedish language, but also confidence in public debate. Can we trust what ministers say is true? Can a society without faith in their elected officials work?
We are gathered here today because we know that a suspicious and closed society has no future, and that the good power of the red and the blue, the purple and the green must fight together to take back a trusting and open society!"
Cribbed from the ever resourceful HAX...
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Operators commonly use a 'shaping' or 'throttling' to cut down the amount of traffic - basically putting caps on the rate at which data can be sent or received by users (or wholesalers). There are different ways to do this - you can limit everyone a bit, limit the highest users a lot, or limit certain types of traffic. Often it is the latter that is done. Operators use a technique called 'Deep Packet Inspection' - looking inside the data being carried - to find out what type of traffic t is and then selectively restrict what they see as bandwidth eaters - which usually means peer to peer traffic.
The problem for them is that a few users generate a high volume of traffic and that means less capacity to share amongst the rest - but for the consumer it means both that you don't always get the high speed connection you think you are paying for - and someone is looking inside your traffic to see what sort of things you are doing. Usually they don't keep records of who does what - but the potential exists....
You may think it is reasonable for the operators to cut back heavy users to ensure all their customers get a reasonable service even in busy times... (even thogh they thought they paid for a full rate service) but the evidence presented shows that some are throttling peer to peer traffic all the time, or between certain times of day, regardless how busy the network actually is. In other words the operators are deliberately degrading service to customers even when they don't need to.
It costs money to build network capacity - which is a cost that we consumers share. The thing is though that that capacity can also be used to provide fee paying services like IP-TV linked to the operator or ISP. These are often time critical services that need to have bandwidth available to deliver glitch free performance... and the service providers expect the operator to provide them with enough capacity for there to be no problems.
The public internet can also provide similar services downloaded from independent suppliers out on the web. They also want good access to bandwidth to get their service over - but there's no revenue in it for the operator - apart from the fact that you've already paid for your internet access.
So the point is... is your traffic being throttled to free up capacity for someone else's service? Are operators prioritising their opportunities to make money over providing an impartial service? The hearing make interesting reading on what the different players say they are up to.
You can find reporting on the seven day hearing on Michael Geist's blog... and more on net neutrality here.
Ephone have argued that the evidence presented is insufficient to say a crime has been committed. This case is doubly interesting as the alleged offence took place on a password protected server (i.e. a site with limited access) and it's not clear how the publishers have gained access to gain evidence - unauthorised access to the server as I understand it would in itself be an offence.
Before deciding to appeal Ephone set up a webpoll asking visitors to their website to vote on whether they should or sould not appeal the original verdict. 99% side "Yes".
The story continues.....
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
The rich can relax. We just need the poor world to cut emissions. By 125%
Notice also the bit that says - G8 countries need to cut emissions by >93% by 2050 to avoid a two degree rise in global temperature. And the bit that says acting now is more effective than waiting to the last minute - obvious but sadly overlooked by politicians everywhere....
You can apparently be convicted if you cause “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.” ... which is an interesing sort of definition. The whole point with freedom of speech is that you can say things that are unpopular and have the protection of the law.
Normally to prove libel you show that the (defamatory) statements made are purported facts that are untrue - that people don't like what you said doesn't in an way enter enter it. Thus, this new legislation strikes clearly aganst EU citizens rights of expression.
Atheist Ireland is actively opposing the legislation which, at an AI meeting Professor Richard Dawkins called "a wretched, backward, uncivilised regression to the middle ages".
If you want to imagine the scope of this legislation to infringe on free speech consider this example that 'outraged a substantial number of people' in Alabama...
Atheist Ireland also provide 'Count me Out' - a site for people wishing to officially leave the Catholic church... if that's not a blasphemous suggestion?
Monday, 13 July 2009
* Increased co-operation between the EU and the US "in the field of freedom, security and justice".
* National anti-terrorist centres in all EU states that report in to Brussels
* All EU states wil share their espionage information with all their EU states
* More and more effective, "data-mining".
* Real time access to citizens data on e.g travel, banking, mobile position, internet use as well as fingerprint and picture.
* More effective surveillance through pro-active collection of individual citizens electronic footprints.
* EU-standardisation of surveillance
* Harmonisaton of EU rules to avoid (legal) obstructions to surveillance and tapping.
* Analysis at EU level of material from member states sureveillance and mass surveillance.
* An extended EU-bureaucracy for surveillance, tapping and analysis called SitCen.
Sweden have the EU presidency right now - which puts them in the driving seat to push forward this programme - but public opinion throughout Europe will have a bearing on what mandate exists to push through measures.
Piratpartiet is supported in its opposition by a number of other politic organisations including the Green Party, the Young Greens, the Liberal Network for Integrity and 'Social Democrats against Big Brother'.
These measures were discussed in the UK press a year ago but now will move forward towards implementation. Make your voice heard - talk about it, write about it, blog about it - write to your local paper, and write to your MP and MEP....
- dismisses Twitter
- says online advertising is pointless
- teenagers are using more and more media, but are not willing to pay for it
- most teenagers have signed up for Twitter, but aren't going to use it -'they realise that no-one is viewing their profile so their tweets are pointless'.
- no teenager reads newspapers regularly
- and they are put off by intrusive advertising so they prefer listening to advert-free music on websites such as Last.fm ..
- advertising is seen as extremely annoying and pointless.
- most teens have never bought a CD
And so it goes on.
I guess at the bottom this is anecdotal evidence from a small sub-sector of the teen generation - but it is clear that how young people see the online world is not how most politicians and industry leaders would like to have the world. It is perhaps a sign of the times that investment bankers are now telling their clients that things ain't like they used to be....
But really this shouldn't be a suprise.. this is exactly what the Piratpartiet has been saying for some time.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
As spotted on Michael Geist's blog.
Some basic facts never did any harm.....
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Searching round for something else I found a news article I'd missed on the launch of the Featured Artist Coalition - a trade and lobby group set up to lobby for artists rights within the music industry. The groups premise is that featured artists - the main name on the cover - are what sell music, but that artists in fact get a bad deal from the music companies and that no-one is representing artists interests as the industry moves into the digital age. (You might wonder what the musician's union has been doing for the last fifty years?)
While viewpoints can differ on what are sensible limits for copyright I find a lot to sympathise with in their manifesto:
- artists rights should be licensed not assigned - meaning artists keep rights to their work
- licensing should be fixed term and lapse back to the artist
- artists should get paid on the same terms as songwriters (who get paid whenever their work is played in a cinema showing for instance)
- copyright owners should be obliged to 'use it or lose it' preventing work being lost to the public (with consequent loss of earnings for the artist)
Last but not least they also support a key plank of Piratpartiet's policy on copyright - that it should not be a criminal act to share music for non commercial use. They specifically distance themselves from the music industry making villains of their customers.
As a lobby organisation they will have two things working in their favour... first that they are fronted by a number of well known pop celebrities including Billy Bragg, Jools Holland, David Gray, and the amazing Annie Lennox (The clip is there in sympathy for all those used and abused artists.. ;-)
The second is that membership is a mere 5% of an artists UK performing rights income - which should give them a healthy warchest to lobby from. (That was 5% tax deductable so the tax payer will be paying for a chunk of their lobbying activities... which goes a bit against the grain).
Footnote: They estimate an average artist would pay a few hundred pounds a year - equivalent to about £8000 gross income. Most artists dont make enough to live on then......
It's no news that STIM, the Swedish performing rights society, wants payments from companies using music in their business or playing music in the workplace. Now though they have gone one further and started requiring licensing from companies that 'give their employee the possibility to play music'. ... which includes those providing them with a PC capable of playing tunes... which is pretty much any computer you can buy.
At up to 40 000 kronor per company (around £3300) that's a fat price to pay for something you dont even know get's used. Not only that of course but if you are playing music at your desk you're most probably not playing out loud i.e. making a public performance, and you have probably already paid for the music at least once - either buying the disc or download - or by the radio station paying to STIM.
Reading between the lines this looks like another case of outdated rules. Not so very long ago if the company gave you the ability to play music that usually meant a radio that was going to be played to the room. These days a music player comes free on every computer - a tool for the trade. It used to make sense that a company providing a means to make music meant it to be used in public... but that isnt true any more, and STIM wanting a tax on computers is just plain stupid - except of course they already have a tax on media and hard drives :-(
It is though another good example that you never pay for music.. but they are quite happy to get paid for letting you play music you already own.
Could this be why Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party are working for reform of copyright?
Monday, 6 July 2009
We don't know what was said, or how seriously it was said - but communication is a HUGE step on the road to a better world. And there's significant symbolic value in the outcome of the talks. More nuclear disarmament - must be considered good - but things like allowing American transports to Afghanistan to overfly Russia and resumption of 'military co-operation' are both public signs of more positive relations.
..but don't stop there...
Generally that's a good thing - lots of works easily accessible online, simple to find and simple to buy (or download for free from sites like the excellent Project Gutenberg). There is one small fly in the ointment though. Conversion to e-format means a whole new copyright on existing works that are already in the public domain.... so although we, the public, own them - someone else gets to set their monopoly on them and sell it back to us. Isn't that slightly strange?
This is highlighted by today's news that the Codex Sinaiticus- an early christian bible from the 4th century, & one of the world's greatest literary treasures - is now available on-line. Great!
But - if you think you might like to translate a few stanzas for your next sermon on the mount, (or church fundraiser) - do read the small print.
"The original item itself is in the public domain in most jurisdictions and therefore not protected by copyright under applicable laws. However rights in the electronic copy and certain associated metadata are owned by the holding institutions. If you wish to make use of this electronic copy or its metadata other than for non-commercial personal or educational use, you must first obtain the written permission of the relevant institution."
It does seem a bit anachronistic you must admit... (although having created translations in multiple languages I understand that there is a lot of work behind making this available.) Full marks though for making this unique resource available for non-commercial and educational use...
Bit of a shame the church is a commercial organisation though ;-)