Thursday, 24 December 2009


Time to put the feet up and enjoy a little seasonal good cheer.... Back for more after Yule....

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Censorship on the loose in Oz

While the snow lies thick and even here... things are getting hot down in Australia. John Lilburne writes about new plans for net censorship which will force ISPs to blacklist sites.  As Electronic Frontiers Australia puts it, Australia is "gaining a reputation as the Iran of the South Pacific".

This took a new turn on Friday when a satirical site set up in the name of Australia's broadband minister Stephen Conroy has been taken down at three hours notice for not following Australia's domain name rules. This has led to allegations of a political motive for the take down and complaints that the domain name rules are being used to stifle political comment on net censorship and of the Australian government's policy to restrict freedom of communication.

Needless to say...  the affected site can now be found on a new domain while they fight to get their domain back....

Who is deciding what you surf?  Say NO to network censorship.

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

What goes round comes around... EU, Canada and IP law

Michael Geist has what for me is a depressing post on ongoing negotiations between the EU and Canada on trade.... including big changes in IP law.  Depressing because it is the EU that are pressing Canada to implement more stringent measures on copyright including measures against circumvention of digital locks, and copyright term extension from 50 to 70 years.  The EU aligns with the US... and then the EU presses Canada to align with the EU.

How about a new process for 2010?  The EU aligns with Canada.. and tells the USA that they need to get their act in order and liberalise their IP laws? 

Some of the things that are in the proposals include things I didn't even know existed under EU law... like that prohibition on circumventing digital locks - and a resale provision providing royalties for artists on second hand sales of portraits and statues...  (When did that arrive???)

Christian, HAX.....  what's the low down??????

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party - Working for copyright reform.

Song birds decline

Spring starts two weeks earlier than it did 25 years ago.... but do the birds know that?

Figures from the Netherlands show big declines in song bird populations which they attribute to migratory birds missing the spring food peak for feeding their young.  ... though I'm sure there must be other factors too...

When people talk about climate change not happening they are ignoring the evidence - that nature is already changing in response to climatic variation.  And when people talk about not trying to stop change, but just adapting to the change, they ignore the fact that for many species that's not an option - at least not any time soon....

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Stand Up Diggers All... Every Human Has Rights


"From the men of property the orders came; they sent the hired men & troopers to wipe out the Digger's claim"

Tomorrow is Human Rights Day.... it's a time when all of us should reflect on the privilege we enjoy in the rights we have, and the struggle of people around the world to live their lives without those rights.  I write a lot about the rights if privacy, and of free speech and what is happening in the digital world that may impact on all of us in the future - but there are more basic rights being ignored and flouted all over the globe. 

Today I'd like to highlight just one case - not because it's the worst rights abuse I could find - but because it stands square in the cause that the diggers fought for three hundred and sixty years ago.  Today in Venezuela
people are fighting for their basic right to protest against the vested interests of the state and the landowners

"On the one hand, police officers, the prosecutors and judges, on the other, hired killers led by landowners and business sectors, plus shock troops allied with national, regional and local governments regardless their political orientation, all form the triangle of repression to the social fight."

What are each of us doing to defend their rights against those that would deny them?

Streaming.... the answer to an industry's prayer?

According to industry figures digital music sales are rising.. the result they say of increased legislation and the introduction of new services like Spotify that meet users needs .. And to be honest it is not a bad thing if commercial music services do appear that provide what consumers want. About time you might say.

That streaming can be the death of pirating is the subject of an article by Mercedes Bunz in the Guardian - pointing to the possibilities that streaming services can bring. But streaming comes at a price - and in any case is not the panacea it seems. Cory Doctorow has an excellent piece on why streaming might make the industry happy, but ultimately won't make copying go away. Basically, from a technical stand point, saving a streaming film or music track is a very small step.... (think radio and tape recorder)

The risk is that this sparks another technology war between the user community and the copyright lobby - with ultimately the only way to enforce copyright being through gross intrusions on your privacy.

More though - streaming is a bad solution when it comes to practical use of the Internet - particularly streaming when on the move. It places very high load as everyone wants to stream at the same time.. Stored tracks on your MP3 player are much more effective.

That last issue is one I've been thinking about for some time. Peer to peer trafiic - downloads - happen in the background. It doesn't matter if they take a bit longer - and you don't need the traffic to get there in real time. It can be low priority in the operator's network - and operators can and do throttle p2p traffic to keep their networks running.

Streaming traffic is live, and time sensitive, and needs to be high priority in the network to get an acceptable service. Not only that but downloading is a 'do once use many' activity, whereas streaming takes bandwidth every time you want to play something - even if you've heard it before. So total traffic will rise - and traffic mixes will shift to make handlling peak loads much more difficult. Streaming is bad news for telecom operators - it is likely lead to them needing to build out capacity to cope with streaming traffic - or disasterous impact on network quality.

Which means that, on top of the bill for monitoring user traffic and policing peer2peer use operators are likely to be stuck with significant costs for network upgrades as streaming music, and particularly video, becomes more popular. They (and we the subscribers) take the cost for the media industry's gain.

Is that how it's going to be in the Digital Economy?

(When I get the time I'll try and make a guesstimate of just how much that extra investment might be....  but it's not going to be small...)

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

300 000 strikes.... Record labels in court for piracy face $6Bn bill

Truth they say is stranger than fiction.... while record companies are complaining around the world about the costs of piracy, hiring lawyers to  demand money from alleged offenders and lobbying anyone who will listen to draft new draconian legislation against file sharers, they are meanwhile quietly ripping off artists by publishing tracks without permission and forgetting to pay the royalties.

Michael Geist reports on a case in Canada where since the eighties record labels have been issuing compilation discs without getting prior permissions and never getting round to settling their dues.  Three hundred thousand tracks later they are now in court facing a class action suit by artists...    and bearing in mind this is not non-commercial file sharing we're talking about, but out and out commercial exploitation, the artists are seeking statutory damages of $20 000 per track...  a cool six billion in total*. 

The companies in the dock are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada -  the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.  Now if I was a shareholder in a company that through ineptitude and bad practice exposed itself to the risk of damages on that scale I would expect heads to roll... 

Resignations gentlemen?  And don't forget to switch off your Internet as you leave.....

(via Rick Falkvinge)

* Don't forget that $6Bn is around 20 times the recording industries estimates of the annual losses to music piracy in the UK. (..if you believe them?)

Errata:  corrected from $60Bn to $6Bn... sloppy maths - sorry!

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Record label head resigns to oppose Digital Economy Bill

CMU reports in an article that Anthony Hall, head of record label Pure Mint, is resigning from both the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) because of their support for the Digital Economy Bill.  Significantly Mr Hall, who is also a lawyer,  has been both a member of the BPI's rights committee and IFPI's International Legal Committee.

His resignation letter is strongly critical of the bill and BPI and IFPI's support for it. His complaints are precisely those that have been raised loudly in other quarters...  The bill, the article says "is in danger of disregarding some sacred legal principles (regarding process, presumption of innocence and burden of proof) and ... it won't solve the record industry's piracy problems anyway."

The proposal for new ministerial powers he describes as "wholly undemocratic and contrary to centuries of good practice regarding the forming of our copyright legislation."

Top marks to Mr Hall for showing that integrity and principle matters more than profits.  But are government minister's really so blind that they can't see this for themselves??? 

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Telia stick to their guns in IPRED case

Telia have decided to appeal a judgement that they should hand over details of who is behind one of their IP addresses to film companies investigating a torrent search site..

'Protection of customer's integrity is important' they say.  It's a pity UK ISPs are not as dedicated to their customers interests (as they hand over thousands of IP addressees details...).

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Think tank says think again on Digital Economy

The Adam Smith Institute is the latest to come out with criticism of the UK Goverments plans for the 'Digital Economy'.  They have released an online briefing paper on Digital Britain - which is described in brief on their website under the title Leave 'Digital Britain' alone.

Aside from a key message that the digital economy is doing very well thank you without government interference it takes the government to task for not taking privacy issues seriously.  It also makes this superbly simple suggestion.
"The report suggests that personal identity and all data associated with it should be defined in law as private property owned by the individual. Any use of that personal data without the owner’s consent would thereby become unlawful."

Yesterday would not be soon enough....

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sue, Grabbit and Run: copyright solicitors?

Just this week in the news is that a UK legal firm is preparing 15 000 letters for what I would best describe as judicial blackmail - pay up or we take you to court. Lawfirm ACS:Law requested and are now getting user details from ISPs on 30 000 IP addresses. Many of the alleged infringements apparently relate to pornography and it is thought many people will pay up rather than go to court and defend themselves. An example of this type of threatening letter is available on Wikileaks

To gather the 30 000 IP addresses they used German firm Digiprotect - a specialist in this area renowned from allegations that they seeded copyright material with rightholders permission to then 'catch' people downloading it.  In fact only last week their relationship with a German law firm was under investigation for fraud for basing claims for this type of payment on legal costs that don't actually exist.

Previous rounds of this sharp practice has raised hundreds of cases of wrong accusations - but as information from other firms involved in the same business shows- chasing pirates is more profitable that selling music games and videos legally...

(Personally I intrinsically question any process where the costs to recover money for rights holders exceeds the money recovered by a factor of four.... that's a business for making money from litigation, not from creativity)

If you have received this type of threatening letter you could start by reading the advice here from Gareth Halfacree (via Amused Cynicism).  If you need help pleading your innocence you may be interested in Torrentfreak's article on a UK law firm that is giving free support for this type of case (dated last year).  This thread at Consumer Action group is on the same topic.
Update:  also checkout Beingthreatened

More reading:
Extortion Is Profitable Too, Doesn't Mean That It's A Fair Way To Profit Off Piracy
If you think the RIAA sucks check these guys out

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Standards of justice - rights, wrongs and copyright infringement

Non-commercial copying of copyrighted maerial is a long established practice - covering everything from sharing recipes, photo copying course notes and taping material from the TV or radio.  What has changed in recent years is not that it happens - rather, that technology has made it easier to do -while at the same time technology makes it practical in many instances to see that it is happening.

What is legal - and how infringement is addressed - differ in different countries.  In Britain (as I understand it) it's still an infringement of copyright to copy your LPs onto tape - or your CDs onto your media server. As for making a compilation from your records collection to give to your girlfriend....  Hots coals and the lash await...

Enforcement is the proof of the pudding - putting individuals in the firing line for having shared copyrighted material.

This week has seen two interesting court cases in Sweden.  First a court in Södertorn decided that Telia Sonera were obliged to hand over details of who runs the Torrent search engine SweTorrents to Antipiratbyrån - a lobby and enforcement organisation for the media industry.  The judgement included in it's rationale both that SweTorrents had a large number of copyright works uploaded onto the site - and that  the site has been used to download material.  

Now it's hard for me to comment on whether providing a search engine counts as abetting copyright infringement under the letter of the current law....  but those aren't legal judgements - they are matters of fact.  It's a search engine.. there are no files on the site to download - and nor can you upload to the site...  so if that's the basis of the judgement it's a pretty dodgy one.  No surprise then that Rick Falkvinge pulls it apart in an article that argues that information politics and it's importance for economic development are too important to leave media industry lobbyists to set the agenda.

Another judgement came this week - this one from the Swedish High Court - saying that broadband operator Portlane is not required to shut off access for a tracker site, Opentorrent.   Here they stated 
"För att medverka till upphovsrättsintrång krävs mer av en mellanhand "än tillhandahållande av en internetaccess".
" in order to contribute to copyright infringement an intermediary needs to do more than provide an internet access".

This judgement is interesting to contrast with the the current proposals in the UK's proposed Digital Economy Bill which will put specific responsibilities onto operators for policing copyright.  And notwithstanding the lack of technical knowledge shown in the first case - both cases show considerably more interest in the individuals rights and a just process than we see in the UKs current legal and political arena .

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Rice, SUVs and climate sceptics.

"Vietnam is planning for a one-metre (3.3 feet) rise in sea levels by 2100, which would inundate about 31,000 square kilometres (12,400 square miles) of land -- an area about the size of Belgium...  The inundation threat is greatest in the Mekong Delta," (the country's main rice production and export area)

John Redwood describes four main groups of climate sceptics.  One of those is the 'of course the climate is changing but it is too hard to stop it - we need to just adapt'.

What that line fails to trake account of is that we are talking about a moving target.  Not acting means more and more emissions - and that means climate issues will continue to get worse..  The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that.  But giving up and saying let it happen is to me a hugely irresponsible way to react to what is a global issue.  The meat eating, holiday in the sun, gas guzzling SUV driver is probably not the one if food supplies get scarcer that will face malnutrition or starvation. 

Vietnam, as you of course know, is the world's second biggest exporter of rice.... 

Friday, 4 December 2009

Iran targets activists on the web.

Read this disturbing account in the Wall Street Journal about Iran's tactics for tackling growing criticism of the state among the large global expatriate community - photographing demonstrators, logging people's Facebook activity, imitating dissidents on Facebook, and most chillingly threatening people's families in Iran to stop their activist relatives abroad.

If true it is intensely cynical and distasteful.. On the other hand, what better warning over state misuse of the internet for surveillance do you need? States do what they can..   not what they should.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Blogging Swedish politics

A new site with hopefully a good future is Politometern. Basically a swedish political blog portal with great search functions and statistics. Over 130 pirate blogs listed - and all at the click of a link.  (Knowing a bit of Swedish helps ;-)

Not surprisingly the site shows Pirate bloggers way out in front when it comes to covering rights, privacy, copyright, ACTA and the FRA.

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

A photographer's view of the Digital Economy Bill

Following this morning's post on the Digital Economy Bill I came across two sites of interest if you want to follow it's progress...   The first is a twitter stream on the bill - clearly a good spot to head for for up to date comment.

The second is Pro-imaging - a site 'supporting professional image creators' who are following the bill's progress because online intellectual property is a clearly of interest for people making a living from photography.  Apart from some useful links on submitting comments and following the bill's progress in the house they raise some points on what they see the bill misses. 

The first is a proposal to add compulsory school education in Intellectual Property...  I understand where they are coming from - but it's something I personally am against.  Firstly if it's not already mandated after two hundred years of copyright it is hard to see it as a 'must have' - and secondly it's a topic that could easily turn into indoctrination rather than education. That's not to say that I don't think there is value in school students debating intellectual property issues - but since principles of intellectual property have a clear political dimension we should be very wary of mandating what students should be taught to believe..

The second though I do support - an artists right to attribution - in principle at least.  Clearly passing someone else's work off as your own is fraud and shouldn't be condoned.   On the other hand their proposal of making it an offence to tamper with metadata in a file...... sounds like a big sledgehammer for a pretty small nut.  I'm not sure it's practical  - how would you prove who made changes to the meta data on a file? And I have no idea what is lodged as meta data if I edit or crop a file and then save it. (When does it become a secondary work?).   If I change format and the meta data is not transferred is that an offence.... Nya. Not such a great idea......

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Kill Bill: Stopping the Digital Economy Bill

You must have heard about the Digital Economy Bill...   the UK government's proposals for regulating the Internet.  It's been widely criticised - particularly for continuing to promote the governments line on excluding users from the Internet and for obscene new powers for ministers to make up copyright enforcement as they go along.  The leaders in the digital economy are firmly against it - including both ISPs and industry heavyweights like Google, Yahoo and eBay. The EFF describes in no uncertain terms that this bill will fetter the digital economy and stifle innovation.

Don't like it?  Then don't accept it.  Here's some simple steps to take to help stop this unacceptable legislation.
  • Write to your MP ... or visit them.  Tell them in simple terms why this is a BAD proposal.
  • Write to a Lord.  The bill has to pass the Lords.  Yesterday was the second reading but it will be back.  Details here from the Open Rights group.  Note - choose one of the Lords listed as a speaker in the debate (listed in the comments)
  • Join the Open Rights Group.  Strong membership (and financial support) help them to lobby on this and other digital rights issues.
  • Join the Pirate Party.  Britains only political party dedicated to protecting users rights on the Internet and creating a forward looking digital economy.  Becoming a pirate shows that the digital economy matters to voters - and there is an election coming up.
  • Sign the petition against the bill at  (now almost 29 000 signatures)
  • Join the Facebook group - I won’t vote for any MP who supports Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill -and remember to tell your MP!
  • Blog about it...
  • Make sure all your friends do too  (all of the above!)
Don't sit back and let them...  Do something.  and do it now!

More on the DEB:
Open Rights: The Digital Economy Bill - a first critical look
Liberty: Disconnection is disproportionate and indiscriminate
Mandy and Me: Some thoughts on the Digital Economy Bill
Britain's new Internet Law - as bad as everyone has been saying, and worse.

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I wonder who's watching me now....?

"I'm just an average man with an average life
I work from nine to five, hey hell I pay the price
All I want is to be left alone in my average home
But why do I always feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone

I always feel like somebody's watchin' me
And I have no privacy
I always feel like somebody's watchin' me
Tell me, is it just a dream?"
         Rockwell.. and the late Michael Jackson.

Hear it again here....
                 ............or do I mean here?

"And I don't feel safe anymore, oh what a mess
I wonder who's watching me now?
The FRA?

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Swedish bloggers look to Telia to stand up for their rights

I don't usually blog in Swedish - not because I can't - but because I want the world to read about what is being done here in defending our rights.  Right now though - all across Sweden bloggers are putting up this.. or words like it. (translated below).  Read it please...  and if you want to stand up for your rights and ours, blog it and spread it further. Join us too on Facebook..

Upprop: Telia – ta FRA-lagen till domstol

Från och med den första december 2009 är Sverige en övervakad nation. Det är då som FRA får tillgång till en stor del av vår Internet- och mobiltrafik.

Detta kommer att få ett antal konsekvenser. De mest påtagliga är att flera grundläggande rättigheter i praktiken kommer att sättas ur spel. En självklarhet som brevhemligheten kommer efter den första december 2009 inte att existera på Internet. Även andra grundlagsskyddade rättigheter som källskyddet är starkt hotat. Många organisationer har skarpt protesterat mot FRA-lagen, bland andra Journalistförbundet och Advokatsamfundet. En majoritet av svenska folket är emot FRAs avlyssning.

Flera juridiska experter uttrycker dessutom stor tveksamhet till om FRA-lagen är förenlig med Europakonventionen, dvs. den europeiska konventionen angående skydd för de mänskliga rättigheterna. Sverige har förbundit sig att följa den konventionen och rimligtvis bör lagen alltså prövas i Europeiska domstolen för de mänskliga rättigheterna. Telia ansvarar idag för en majoritet av den trafik som FRA kommer att vilja avlyssna. Därför uppmanar vi Telia: ta FRA-lagen till domstol.

Telia har nu en chans att vinna goodwill genom att stå upp för demokratin

Appeal: Telia – take the FRA-law to court!

"From the first of December 2009 Sweden is a nation under surveillance. It is then that the FRA has access to a large part of our Internet and mobile services.

This is going to have a number of consequences. The most notable is that several fundamental rights will  in practice be eliminated. Obviously confidentiality of correspondence does not exist on the Internet after the first december 2009. Other constitutional rights such as protection of (journalistic) sources are highly threatened. Many organizations have strongly protested against the FRA law, including Journalists and the (Swedish) Bar Association. A majority of Swedish people are against FRA's interception.

Several legal experts also express considerable doubt whether the FRA law is compatible with the ECHR, ie. the European Convention on Human Rights. Sweden has undertaken to comply with the Convention, and the law ought therefore to be tested in the European Court of Human Rights. Telia is currently responsible for a majority of the traffic that FRA will want to listen to. We therefore call on Telia: take the FRA law to court.

Telia now has a chance to win goodwill by standing up for democracy."

This is an open and common blog entries - copy, enhance and publish to your blog....
Sweden's FRA are monitoring all traffic passing Sweden's borders and monitoring in particular international transit traffic.  Lift this and copy it.... 

Bloggers making the call include....
Tantrikbloggen, Annarkia, Scaber Nestor, Sossar mot Storebror, Den Nya Medborgarrättsrörelsen, Archangel, Darkangel och Mumma, Signerat Kjellberg, Den digitala parkbänken, Sagor från livbåten, Piratpartisten, Thorlin, Sandrability, Bloggvärldsbloggen, Aspiebloggen, Farmorgun, Pesptraktelser,, JensO, Beelzebjörn, Röd Libertarian, Calandrella, ProjO, Christian Engström, Webhackande, Liberal & Långsint, Osmidigt, Solid Block of Ise, Johan Ronström, Personlig Utveckling?, Bandhunden Skäller, Infallsvinkel, Hearts of Joy, Primarys Blog, Alliansupproret, Integritet & frihet, Tieowbeijas, The Pheleroxian Blog, Mattias Bjärnemalm, Skivad Lime, OlofB, OlofB, OlofB, Enligt min Humla, Daniel och de små tomtarna, hannes2peer, Beelzebjörn, Exiled PirateHenrik Alexandersson, Den Digitala Parkbänken
(this list mostly lifted from Tantrikbloggen..)

Piratpartiet & The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Translated by Google.. with a little help from me...


Have a Big Brother Christmas...

Today's the day...  It's finally happening.....   

Today is the day that FRA get connected in to cables carrying ALL Swedens cross border e-traffic and the Swedish state gets to monitor anything they fancy from traffic passing through the kingdom (though the king I don't think gets much say in things).  Since bits aren't all that fussy which route they take that's just as much an issue for the rest of humanity as it is for the few million herring eaters out here on the continental fringe - in fact they are intending to primarily focus on monitoring international traffic not sourced from Sweden.

So...  Happy Christmas..  Big Brother Sweden is giving all of us a big slice of state surveillance to chew on.  Pour another glass of glögg and...  Skål!

Still Big Brother does have a sense of humour....   check out this at Techbelly...
Merry fucking Xmas, Love Big Brother

Piratpartiet & The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.