Weekly News Roundup (11 October 2009)

How was your week then? Mine? Pretty much more of the same really, kind of boring, but at the same time still feel like there just isn’t enough time to do everything I wanted to do. Must also get more sleep. But before I can do that, I’ll have to churn out this week’s WNR, and there’s quite a bit to go through.


Let’s start with copyright news, as if I have to say this since every issue of WNR has started with copyright news, and the graphics to the left of this sentence sort of hints at it a bit.

This week is the week that the high profile “movie studios versus ISP” trial started in Australia, with the MPAA backed AFACT and Australian ISP iiNet going head to head in court over allegations that iiNet “allows” its users to pirate stuff. There’s all sorts of arguments and statements being thrown around in court over the week, too much to go through all of them here in great detail (check out the link for more details). The AFACT doesn’t think iiNet is doing all it can to stop piracy, and iiNet claims that this whole thing has been a set up by the AFACT to get its day in court. The AFACT claims over 90,000 acts of infringements occured on iiNet’s network over the period of time they monitored activities, while iiNet believes this number is exaggerated and inaccurate due to the way the AFACT counted them (they counted partial downloads, even by the same person downloading the same file over time, as separate infringements). iiNet also revealed they were sent thousands of infringement notices by the AFACT over the course of a week, far too many for iiNet to be able to verify and process and they believe this “infringement spam” was a deliberate ploy by the AFACT to ensure iiNet would fail to remove users from its network and hence, “allow” piracy to occur.

I’m obviously a biased individual, but everything that iiNet has said so far makes sense. The plain facts, and the AFACT will agree, is that there’s a lot of piracy going on. A lot! But to get ISPs to police the thousand of infringement notices per week  is just really unfeasible, even if the ISP in question does not verify any of the notices and simply ban users at the first sign of trouble, which could then lead the ISP into legal trouble as the innocent users that got kicked of can sue for compensation. It’s easy for groups like the AFACT to produce a list of IP addresses of offending users, since they can just monitor the IP addresses on torrents, but the ISP will have to go through the data, match the IP address and the timestamp with user information, and then take action. But as IP addresses can be spoofed, and that just because an user’s IP address was on a torrent, it does not mean they downloaded it successfully or even intended to download it in the first place, or gave authorization to the person to started the download. Only the police have the resources and authority to get to the bottom of such allegations, and I doubt they will have time to investigate potentially tens of thousands of cases per week. Which is why going after the downloaders is such a stupid idea in the first place. Anyway, I’ll be posting more updates on the iiNet trial every week, but a decision in the case is unlikely to be had this year. Obviously, the AFACT would love a win here, but even if they lose, it may give them just enough to push the government into adopting some kind of three-strikes legislation to ensure this “travesty” doesn’t go on for much longer.

Sarkozy gives a big thumb up to DVD piracy when it suits him

Sarkozy gives a big thumb up to piracy ... when it suits him

And the chance of such a legislation becoming a reality in Australia is quite high given what has happened with France adopting similar laws (pending appeal in their Constitutional Council). A big supporter of the laws,  is French President Sarkozy. But a French paper has revealed this week that Sarkozy is in fact a big supporter of piracy as well, but when it benefits himself. He allowed his staff to make 400 pirated copies of a movie about himself so he can give it out to diplomats to promote how great he is or something. His staff even went as far as making photoshoped jackets for the DVDs that removed the logo of the official distributor, so obviously they knew what they were doing was wrong, yet still did it. If downloading a pirated movie three times gets you thrown off the Internet and possibly into jail for 2 years, under the law that Sarkozy supports, then how many years will distributing 400 copies, which is way worse than downloading, get? By my calculations, it should be about 500 years.

The Pirate Bay has just been chased out of the Netherlands, after their version of the MPAA, BREIN, successfully sued TPB’s web host, a tactic that seems to be working. TPB was chased out of Sweden using similar tactics. And last week, even Google did their bit to kill of TPB, by removing the home page listing for the website from its index due to a DMCA complaint – luckily, the listing was quickly restored, possibly due to the public backlash.  The Pirate Bay website seems to have relocated to the Ukraine, in a bunker style hosting center that claims to be able to withstand a nuclear attack. The question is, can it withstand a MPAA attack? Let’s wait and see how the Ukrainian courts deal with this issue. As for the proposed Pirate Bay sale, there’s a lot of confusion as to what’s happening, because the handover was supposed to have occurred already.

Viacom is still after YouTube, but may have the "smoking gun" evidence they need to win the case

Viacom is still after YouTube, but may have the "smoking gun" evidence they need to win the case

Still continuing with the theme of lawsuits, Viacom claims to have the “smoking gun” in their legal battle with Google/YouTube. Viacom got hold of some internal emails which suggested that YouTube managers were aware of the unauthorized content issue, but refused to take action. There were also claims that YouTube employees may have also uploaded unauthorized content themselves. Google/YouTube want to attack this case on the basis that Viacom employees had uploaded content for promotional purposes, and as such, it was impossible for them to know which clips were authorized and which were not. What interested me was that Viacom obviously knew the positive effects of YouTube, and thus were employing people to upload promotional clips. You can argue that they also benefit from unauthorized clips as well. I wonder would they be happier or angrier if YouTube banned all Viacom clips from their website, which would definitely solve the piracy problem for Viacom, but is this what they really want? It seems that these media companies want to exploit YouTube’s user base, but only if they have full control over what happens, which is not how YouTube or similar websites work – it’s the lack of control, the total freedom and spontaneity of the content and the users who upload them that makes or breaks sites like YouTube. If the content owners don’t realise this fundamental shift in the relationship between content owners and content users, then they’re in for a rough ride.

Still more lawsuit news, this time it’s the MPAA versus Real Network’s RealDVD case. An injunction was granted against the sale of RealDVD earlier in the year, but Real Networks is appealing the decision. It’s unlikely to be successful, since an injunction is the “safe” thing to do pending the verdict, but it’s also a “nothing to lose” situation for Real, which has already spent a bundle in legal costs, an appeal won’t make much of a difference now.

And from the “another way to solve the piracy problem without rooms full of lawyers” section, here’s Spotify’s solution – music renting. By paying a small monthly fee, customers gets to download up to 3,333 different ad-free songs at any given time to their PCs, iPhones or Android phones for offline enjoyment, but they lose access once they stop paying the subscription fee. It’s not an ideal solution, especially since DRM is involved, but it’s certainly cheaper than buying 3,333 songs, and less likely to involve you going to court.

High Definition

Onto high def news, Blu-ray is probably not coming to the Macs anytime soon. The well sourced blogger who first broke the news that Blu-ray may be coming, then later posted that, well, it’s probably not.

Either move would have been understandable. Adding Blu-ray make sense, since Blu-ray is not that popular in the computing arena, but every PC has the ability to support it, unlike Macs.  Apple is also on the board of the Blu-ray group, and has done a lot of work to promote high definition video. On the other hand, Apple’s iTunes and Apple TV strategy means that they prefer online distribution over disc based distribution, so Blu-ray may be seen as a competitor.

Consumers only want 3DTV and 3D Blu-ray if it is cheap or at no extra cost

Consumers only want 3DTV and 3D Blu-ray if it is cheap or at no extra cost

People may still be getting use to HD being standard, but already the next “big thing” in home entertainment is being hyped: 3D. Unfortunately, consumers don’t seem to be buying the hype, at least now right now, because a study has shown that there’s very little interest in 3DTV or 3D Blu-ray, not unless it comes at little or no cost to the consumer, which defeats the whole purpose of having something new. It is a bit gimmicky, but I personally like these kind of gimmicks, and I think 3D has a place in the home, even if it doesn’t exactly reach mainstream popularity.

Toshiba's Cell Regza TV: Records 8 HD channels at the same time!

Toshiba's Cell Regza TV: Records 8 HD channels at the same time!

What may be popular with consumers is the new generation of TVs. No, I’m not talking about higher than 1080p resolution sets, but rather, TVs that allow you to do more than just watch TV. Panasonic and Samsung went with Internet capable TVs that allows you to watch YouTube videos, check out the weather, and all sorts of other things without leaving the comfort of your couch. Toshiba is doing something different, mainly because it can. Toshiba owns the Cell processor that the PS3 uses, and they’ve been talking about it for a while, but they’ve finally managed to find a good use for it on their TVs. Their new Cell Regza range can record up to 8 channels of HDTVs at once to the internal 3TB HDD, for up to 26 hours. This means that if you missed on anything in the last day and a bit, on up to 8 channels, you can go back and watch it without having to torrent it. The powerful Cell processor also allows the TV to show 8 different channels at once. We don’t even have 8 HD channels here in Australia, but this would be extremely handy to have in lieu of a dedicated TiVo like set top box.


And finally in gaming, I posted about firmware induced problems for the PS3 last week, and it turns out I’m not the only one who wants answers, because a class action lawsuit has been launched against Sony regarding the problematic 3.00 (and 3.01) firmware.

I think people sue too much over in the US, and I think this is certainly something that probably shouldn’t waste the court’s time, but if it gets Sony to be a bit more careful about their firmware releases, or to come clean on why the drive freezing and no more disc reading problem seems to only come after firmware updates, then the effort would have been worth it.

The lawsuit is certainly going to divide the PS3 owners, some of which like me have personally experienced the problem first hand, while others don’t believe it’s actually real. It is certainly rare enough, but not so rare as to never happen, to have caused this divide. What I don’t like is the PS3 fans, that haven’t yet experienced this problem, claiming it’s all made up to make Sony look bad or it’s caused by people not knowing how to use their PS3s. I take these quotes from postings on the official PS3 board to illustrate this phenomenon:

The “you’re all Sony haters making this up, or you’re too stupid to own a PS3” brigade:

I still think many failures are cases of what’s called “future shock”. You have a rather sophisticated piece of electronics and users really don’t know how to operate it properly.

The “I’ve had this happen to me” group’s response:

And I think that’s a pretty ridiculous thing to assume. What’s to “operate”?, it’s a closed system!  That’s more like a lot of the unsubstantiated claims and misinformation I’ve been reading…on this board in particular. For some reason. Especially from people who think because there’s nothing wrong with their unit, everbody who’s does is either lying or too incompetent to know how to plug it in.

It’s real. It’s rare. It may already be a non existent issue in the new redesigned PS3 Slim. But it’s not right for Sony to charge people to repair something that I can think is almost certainly a manufacturing or design defect (either in hardware, or in the firmware), and it’s certainly not the owner’s fault.

Alright, that’s it for the week. More news next week, definitely more iiNet stuff, possibly NPD stats for game console which may see the PS3 become the number one seller, beating the Wii for the first time. See you then.


Comments are closed.

About Digital Digest | Help | Privacy | Submissions | Sitemap

© Copyright 1999-2012 Digital Digest. Duplication of links or content is strictly prohibited.