Friday, June 26, 2009

3 strikes resurrected by French government

The French government are not giving up on their three stikes agenda even after having it ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Council.
"The "three-strikes" saga continues in France following the Constitutional Council's recent decision canceling the sanction side of the bill (, June 10), with the government attempting to find a way around the legal ruling.

While the educational part of the bill, which allows the administrative authority Hadopi to issue warnings to infringers, had been passed into law, a short new bill on the sanction side of the anti-piracy system has now been approved by government ministers to be introduced as legislation.

The French government had wanted Hadopi to be able to cut off repeat offenders after two warnings. With the Constitutional council having stressed that only a judge can rule on such terminations of Internet access, the new bill intends to simplify procedures to avoid French courts, which would slow the sanction process."

DRM, copyright and open source

I've been watching Cory Doctorow's talk to the Red Hat summit in 2006

It's amazingly relevant even three years later, eons in internet time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Apple v PsyStar heading back to court

From CNet news:
"Apple wanted Psystar back in court, and now it's going to happen.

An automatic stay of proceedings imposed when Psystar filed for bankruptcy in May has been lifted by the court, according court documents shared with CNET News.

Judge Robert A. Mark, who serves the Southern District of Florida U.S. Bankruptcy Court, lifted the stay on Friday, opening the door for Apple to continue its copyright infringement case against the company."

Regular readers will recall the source of the dispute which I mentioned some months back.
"Apple had originally sued PsyStar for using and selling the OS X Operating System (“Mac OS”) in clone machines. The judge, Hon. William Alsup, then threw out PsyStar's antitrust claims against Apple in response to the original lawsuit (see Justia for the details). So PsyStar came up with the rather clever copyright misuse argument - 'we bought the Mac OS from Apple and they're saying we can't play with it unless we buy their hardware to use with it too.'"

China filter software company threatened

Employees of the company supplying the filter software which is to be compulsory on all new computers in China have reportedly been receiving death threats.
"The Chinese manufacturer of Internet-filtering software that must be distributed with all new computers next week has received death threats, state media said Wednesday.

Workers at Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. received more than 1,000 harassing phone calls this month, according to Zhang Chenmin, the general manager of the company. He said personal information of some of the programmers had been leaked online, and one caller threatened to kill his wife and child.

"Most of the calls came late at night, cursing our staff and uttering obscenities, voicing their resentment against the software," Zhang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Assessing the battle for climate friendly technology IP

Josie Garthwaite of Earth2Tech has been assessing how big the battle for intellectual property protection of climate friendly technologies is.

Google privacy trial begins in Italy

The trial of Google executives 'accused of defamation and violating privacy for allowing a video to be posted online showing an autistic youth being abused' has begun in Italy.
"Google says the case violates EU rules by trying to place responsibility on providers for content uploaded by users.

The Mountain View, California, company also considers the trial a threat to freedom on the Internet because it could force providers into an impossible task - prescreening the thousands of hours of footage uploaded every day onto Web sites like the Google-owned YouTube.

Prosecutors and civil plaintiffs insist they don't want to censor the Internet, and maintain the case is about enforcing Italy's privacy rules as well as ensuring large corporations do their utmost to block inappropriate content, or quickly delete it."

Update: Well it did begin but it's been adjourned until September because an interpreter didn't appear when scheduled.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Music industry in Spain accept demise of 3 strikes?

The entertainment industry in Spain, in the form of the Coalition of Creators and Content Industries, has reportedly changed its campaigning focus away from pushing for 3 strikes and towards throttling the service of suspected copyright infringers.
"In his first public appearance as Coalition president, Aldo Olcese acknowledged that users are "our current and future clientele," and that punitive measures were out of the question. "We have no desire to criminalize Internet users who download illegally," he said.

Olcese was speaking just three days after Spanish Internet Service Provider (ISP) association Redtel announced that it would refuse to hold more talks with the Coalition, until the government comes up with a solution to piracy in Spain."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Music labels sue next biggest Irish ISPs

Following their success in eventually securing an out of court settlement where Eircom agreed to a 3 strikes regime, the big four music labels have now begun legal action against Ireland’s second-largest telco, BT Ireland, and largest cable operator UPC Ireland. I guess they weren't too impressed at the stand taken by the Internet Service Providers' Association of Ireland (ISPAI) against 3 strikes.

Given that the French constitutional council has recently declared even the French 3 strikes law to be unconstitutional it is hard to believe an Irish Court, in a country where no such law exists, would impose such a legal obligation on Irish ISPs. Yet Eircom would have settled because they thought they would lose in court. Part of that settlement involved the music cos. pursuing other ISPs on similar grounds so Eircom would not find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. But 3 strikes has been repeatedly rejected by the EU parliament and in several jurisdictions all over the world. The Council of Europe has again declared access to the Internet to be a fundamental right. It might conflict with the ECJ decision in the Promusicae case, various EU directives and the European Convention on Human Rights, not to mention the practical problems involved and the relative costs to the various parties. A decision in favor of the label has the potential to be challenged eventually both through the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Ed Felten's extrapolation of the 3 strikes approach to print media shows just how silly the whole approach is. And remarkably, even the entertainment industry friendly collective mindset of EU culture ministers agreed, in November last year, to reject the French 3 strikes idea:
"EU culture ministers yesterday (20 November) rejected French proposals to curb online piracy through compulsory measures against free downloading, instead agreeing to promote legal offers of music or films on the Internet.

The EU Culture Council pushed yesterday (20 November) for "a fair balance between the various fundamental rights" while fighting online piracy, first listing "the right to personal data protection," then "the freedom of information" and only lastly "the protection of intellectual property".

The Council conclusions also stressed the importance of "consumers' expectations in terms of access […] and diversity of the content offered online". No mention was made of a gradual response to serial downloaders of illegal cultural material, as foreseen by the French authorities."
Surely it is a bad time for the music industy to be bringing such a case to court? Or perhaps there is some insider knowledge that Ireland may now be the place to get the 3 strikes foot in the door of EU regulation? After all, in Groundhog Day fashion, the development of IP legislation has never had a lot to do with rational opposition to irrational expansion proposals.

Watching the watchers a perilous occupation?

The Guardian has a front page story about the inappropriate behaviour of some police officers at a climate change demonstration.
"Two female protesters who challenged police officers for not displaying their badge numbers were bundled to the ground, arrested and held in prison for four days, according to an official complaint lodged today.

The incident was caught on camera, and footage shows officers standing on the women's feet and applying pressure to their necks immediately after the women attempted to photograph a fellow officer who had refused to give his badge number.

The images are likely to fuel concern over the policing of protests, which is already subject to a review by the national police inspectorate and two parliamentary inquiries after the G20 demonstrations and the death of Ian Tomlinson."

This is yet another illustration of the kind of uncessary tension and conflict that can be stoked up through government obsession with mass surveillance - using new technology to watch everyone in the hope that it will magically point at the bad guys. Police resources are used up both in doing unnecessary mass surveillance and in dealing with the fall out from it. Protest groups are an emergent property of the mass surveillance and peaceful protestors come into direct conflict with the police, even through something as innocuous as politely asking for an officer's number. Everybody loses. The police lose because, at best, they come out of it looking like unreasonable thugs. The protestors lose because they get detained and locked away from their families for days. But of course every cloud has a silver lining. The criminal gangs, which I'm sure a lot of these police officers would like to be spending their time and effort combatting, have more time and space to get on with their nefarious activities whilst police attention and resources are distracted elsewhere tackling dangerous Guardian readers and their subsequent official complaints.

Mass surveillance 101 - lesson 1: Watching everybody in the hope that the computer/camera will magically point at the bad guys results not in the bad guys getting caught but in the [nominally] good guys fighting amongst themselves.