Weekly News Roundup (10 July 2011)

Another pretty quiet week, probably due to the 4th of July weekend, so this WNR should be fairly short. I know I’ve promised this in the past, and failed to deliver almost every single time, but I swear, this time it will be different (or you can read my apology 2000 words later).

CopyrightLet’s start with copyright news. The MPAA is at it again, this time trying to say that movie piracy will mean the end of the Internet.


Downloading pirated movies is the cause of all of today's problems, including recession, war, disease and Seth Rogen movies - the MPAA will try to claim at some point in the future

Ripping from the headlines, Law & Order style, the MPAA now says that movie piracy will threaten the entire nature of the Internet, because movie pirates are unwittingly spreading malware and getting their computers zombified. A recently discovered botnet by security firm Kaspersky is now being used by the MPAA in their scare campaign against movie downloading. While it’s true that botnets, such as the recently discovered TDL, which Kaspersky has dubbed “indestructible”, are spread through malware, and that by placing malware near where popular downloads are located, such as pirated movie downloads, there is actually no link whatsoever in between movie piracy and TDL, or any specific botnet. Certainly, Kaspersky made no mention of movie downloads or piracy at all, so just how the MPAA drew the conclusion, only they know. But these are the same people that have linked movie piracy with child pornography in the past, so I’m not surprised. The fact is that any popular download could be the target of a malware attack, with fake files being distributed, whether on BitTorrent, or just plain downloads. In fact, it’s more likely that a public, popular and legally available file be made the host for botnet spreading malware, because people are more comfortable downloading legal files, and are less alert when it comes to security issues. So by warning people about TDL, the MPAA actually wants to stop people downloading, period. Who’s destroying the Internet now?

In my opinion, if people are familiar enough with the Internet to know how to locate a reliable source for pirated movies and install and operate the tools needed to download them, then I think most would be better than average at protecting their computers from malware. Most expert pirates can spot a fake Torrent a mile away, and if more people pirated from reliable sites like The Pirate Bay, then there’s even less chance of malware sneaking in before someone spots it and comments. So, if the MPAA is so concerned about the Internet, they should help to promote The Pirate Bay and other respectable Torrent sites, so that people are downloading the right stuff. If the MPAA succeeds in shutting down the major Torrent indexers, then the chaos that ensues will probably make the malware problem even worse, and they would be to blame for the destruction of the Internet, if that’s even possible.

But the MPAA does have one good point, is that malware is a much bigger problem than piracy.

Otherwise, it was a good week for the MPAA and the RIAA, as ISPs formally announced their plan to help the music and movie  industry clamp down on piracy, by introducing, not three, not four, but five or six strikes (with action being taken on the 6th strike, after 5 previous warnings). And disconnection is now a certain action after however many strikes, with the ISP free to choose the form of execution, whether it’s speed limiting, or re-education. There’s even an appeals process, where users can pay $35 to have an “independent copyright expert” decide whether action needs to be taken, although users can only use the “my router was unsecured” excuse once. Critics worry that the so called independent copyright expert may actually be someone chosen by the RIAA/MPAA, which may be a conflict of interest. Speaking of conflicts of interests, the monitoring will be done by a third party, who will watch BitTorrent networks and other sources for IP address of pirates, except, it will be in the interest of this third party to catch as many pirates as possible, and with no oversight, this is probably the biggest conflict of interest of all. So you have a situation where the cops are paid by the number of “crooks” they catch, the judge and jury have been replaced by a sign that simply says “guilty”, the appeals court is selected by the same people that painted the guilty sign, and the executioner is actually your paid for service provider. Nice.


VPN services, such as The Pirate Bay's IPREDator, will bypass monitoring as part of any three/five/six strike system

Other than causing a lot of problems for Internet users, I can’t see how this plan will even help to slow down piracy. Starting off, only a very limited range of piracy methods are even covered by the monitoring, and even within these methods, it’s not too hard to escape detection altogether by investing in a VPN account and encryption. Instead of killing piracy, this will probably kill free Wi-Fi that businesses offer, since they would then be responsible for their user’s activities. Unless the MPAA/RIAA can make an exception for businesses, and I suspect only for the big businesses like McDonald’s or Starbucks, then nobody would dare to offer free Wi-Fi unless they can sign up to an ISP that doesn’t use the strikes system. It’s a multi-million dollar “solution”, that causes more millions in loss of business, all for making relatively little difference to the piracy problem.

Good news for CNET, or at least that’s what it looked like at first. A couple of months ago, the founder of FilmOn, Alki David, sued CNET because CNET owned download.com had been distributing the now outlawed LimeWire software. Last week, David and company withdrew their lawsuit voluntarily. But it all depends on the reason for the withdrawl, with the plaintiffs suggesting that the  popularity of the lawsuit was the main reason behind this latest move. Apparently, many other copyright holders expressed interest in joining the lawsuit, and due to time constraints, it was just easier to withdraw and file a new lawsuit in the future. Or this could just be the face saving excuse needed for David and Co. to get out of a lawsuit that, may not go very far anyway. I think most can see that revenge is one of the motivations behind the lawsuit (David’s FilmOn was sued by CNET’s owner, CBS, for copyright infringement), and I’m sure the CNET/CBS lawyers will make want the judge and jury, if it gets that far, to see this lawsuit as a revenge motivated stunt. I personally don’t think there’s much merit in the lawsuit, since there’s got to be some limit as to where the responsibility for LimeWire ends, because otherwise, even browser makers can get sued for allowing the downloading of LimeWire, and what about OS and PC manufacturers for allowing LimeWire to be run? And all of them made money off LimeWire in one way or another, if you want to make that argument. It never ends.

High Definition

In HD/3D news, not a lot happening again really. There was the news that Hulu’s launch of their Facebook Connect feature causing a privacy breach, as bad programming meant that some were able to access other’s accounts. But that’s hardly HD, 3D, or even video related, even though it did happen to a video website.

There’s also the rumour floating around that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are all interested in buying Hulu, probably for a very inflated price in what many people are now calling a new Internet bubble (although I personally believe it’s more of a consolidation, as tech companies battle the threat of a new mega-player, Facebook).

I don’t really care who buys Hulu, as long as they make sure it comes to Australia.


The rumour of the week goes to the one that says the PS4 will be launched early next year, with production to begin this year. And not only that, it will also copy Kinect and have built-in full body motion sensing.

This reminds me of the constant rumours about the Xbox 360 getting a Blu-ray drive, except this is going in the other direction. You take Sony’s “copying” of the Wii’s motion gaming system, down to the “nunchuck” device, add the fact that the Wii U will replace the PS3 as the most powerful console when released, add in a sprinkle of bulls**t, and viola, PS4 released before Wii U and will have Kinect like controls.

Xbox 720

The PS4 and Xbox 720 are as likely to appear in 2012 as they are to be named the PS4 and Xbox 720

I’m not saying the rumour is completely false, but when was the last time a completely new console (not just a re-design) was launched with absolutely no announcement in the E3’s just before, nor any promotions, nor any sneak peak at games, graphics, even a logo? There’s a reason why game companies, or just tech companies in general,  don’t “ninja” release products, because you need to hype, the promotion, the time for developers to actually come up with games, before a console can be launched. And if developers are already doing PS4 stuff, as you would expect for a 2012 launch, then they’re not *that* good as keeping secrets, and so somebody would already leaked out in-game artwork or even video, and that has just not happened.

And of course, there’s the statements actually made by Sony saying the PS3 if barely half-way through its product life cycle, and the fact that they still haven’t even officially retired the PS2 yet.

And of course, the Internet Chinese whispers game concluded with the “announcement” that the Xbox 720 was also going to be released in 2012. Yeah, right.

And true to my word, this WNR will conclude with barely 1500 words written, which must be a new record (both the shortened WNR, and me keeping my word). See you next week.


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