Weekly News Roundup (14 July 2013)

Hi there. I hope you’ve had a good week. I have all the usual goodness for you in this week’s WNR, which is not too long, but not too short. Just right!

Let’s get started.

CopyrightAs promised earlier, the French government has redrafted the country’s controversial copyright laws, and the Hadopi experiment is now officially dead. The government announced changes that will mean an end to the threat of Internet disconnections – instead, an escalating series of fines will now be used to deter users from downloading pirated stuff. The French government also called for greater focus on commercial piracy and websites that supply pirated content.

Hadopi Logo

Hadopi is dead – French government kills of controversial three-strikes program

In the nearly four years since the introduction of Hadopi, there has only been one disconnections which also resulted in a “massive” 150 euros fine. And as reported here before, even that single disconnection was fraught with controversy, as the 40-year old artisan from rural France at the center of the case denied ever making the download in question.

What we do know is that during the reign of Hadopi, piracy rates have not decreased noticeably, and even if it has, the fortunes of the creative industries have not improved as a result. Hadopi has cost the French government millions of euros in maintenance costs instead.

Just goes to show that giving the entertainment industry exactly what they want is often not to the advantage of anyone involved, not even the entertainment industry.

Speaking of getting what they want, the RIAA now wants “notorious” music piracy Jammie Thomas-Rasset to publicly speak out against piracy, in exchange for a reduction from the $222,000 she owes the billion dollar music industry for downloading 24 songs. But the single mother says she will not submit to the RIAA’s demands.

The $222,000 she has been ordered to pay is already a reduction from the $1.92 million that a jury originally awarded against her, a figure that even the judge in the case found excessive. Through appeals and new trials, the damages now stand at the $222,000 (a nonsensical $9,250 per song), and Thomas-Rasset’s lawyers have only recently failed in their bid to have their day in the US supreme court to make the argument that the excessive damages are unconstitutional.

The next step, according to her lawyers, may be to file for bankruptcy, although the RIAA has hinted that other non-monetary settlement options may be available, as the industry’s copyright lobby tries to find a PR-friendly way to end the matter once and for all.

When the RIAA isn’t busy suing single mothers and college students, it appears they’re working day and night submitting DMCA takedown requests to Google it seems, as the RIAA has just passed 25 million URL takedowns mark. And the RIAA isn’t slowing down, if anything, it appears they’re accelerating their efforts to clean up the Interwebs.

I do wonder though in the time it has taken the RIAA to remove 25 million URLs, how many new URLs with the same content has sprung up in its place. Probably more than 25 million, my guess.


If reading your Dickens, Austen, or heavens forbid, Brown, suddenly seems like an inferior literary experience, then you may be the victim of a new e-book DRM that randomly changes the words in the text every time a copy of the e-book is made.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

New e-book DRM could change the text of your favourite novels

The new DRM called SiDiM, developed with funding from the German government, makes small variations in punctuation and replaces some words with synonyms in copies that also allows these modified copies to be traced back to its original owner. The idea is that copies, while still readable, would not contain the original experience, and that since copies are traceable, original owners will be less keen to share or upload the e-book online.

An interesting, but definitely not new idea, that can also be easily defeated. A simple comparison with an original will allow these variations to be “corrected”, and even just comparing and merging two different modified copies will in most cases allow you to recreate the original (assuming the random variations are spread evenly throughout the book – two modified copies will be unlikely to have the same modifications).

And while the threat of having a Pirate Bay copy traced back to you is real, legally, there may still be nothing that publishers can do to the original leaker. Because they would have to first proof the intent to distribute, as there are many reasons why the original ended up being copied (perhaps in an unauthorized manner by friends or family, if the e-book reader or storage device was lost or stolen, or discarded intentionally). And real hardcore pirates would simply set up fake disposable accounts to buy one copy to share with the world anyway.


Sony seems to have a very refined strategy for promoting the PS4: by owning up to all the PS3’s problems and mistakes and promising not to do it again. First it was the admission that the PS3 launch price was indeed too high, something that Sony has addressed with the $399 priced PS4. Now, it’s the final admission that the PS3 was indeed less developer friendly that it should have been.

PS3 160GB

PS3 was made too difficult to develop for, says PS4’s lead architect

The PS4’s lead architect Mark Cerny explained that the PS3 was designed to suit developers of triple-A titles, those that had the resources to fully take advantage of the console. So for smaller developers, it wasn’t as easy to simply take an idea and then letting it happen on the PS3. Rather, it meant working within the PS3’s framework and then coming up with an idea that would fit into the framework (time and budget and difficulty, all constraining factors). It’s this that drove smaller developers and those that had great gaming ideas away from the PS3, and this meant less games with the “fun factor”, games that were key to the success of the original PlayStation.

And of course, Cerny says that this will no longer be a problem with the PS4, which based on at least Sony’s marketing, is a much more indie-friendly console.

So be on the look out for more PS3 bashing, from Sony of all people, in the lead up to the PS4’s release.

While Sony’s strategy may be clear, Microsoft’s strategy of pretending the Xbox One DRM fiasco never happened is being hampered by their most loyal fans, who have put up a petition to get Microsoft to reinstate the controversial DRM.

The pro-DRM gamers’ petition argues that not everything about Microsoft’s original plan was bad, and that features like the ability to share games within a family, to play games without discs, to access game libraries across different consoles, and to be able to sell and trade digital purchases, should be reinstated.

Others on the Internet are not so convinced that this group’s intentions are genuine, some have even said that this is nothing but a guerrilla PR campaign by Sony to keep the Xbox One DRM controversy fresh in gamer’s minds in the lead up to the launch of both consoles.

But I think Microsoft’s problems go beyond just the DRM clusterf**k. They have a console that’s more expense due to the built-in motion gaming device that gamers don’t really want, a device which Microsoft have failed so far to convince anyone that it’s worth the extra $100 over the PS4’s base price. And a console that, by all technical previews I’ve seen, appears to be less powerful than the PS4. All the while, Microsoft is busy touting the media capabilities of the Xbox One, despite it not doing anything that the PS4 cannot do, other than some fancy OSD overlays that won’t even be available outside of the US – at least that’s what most people are thinking.

If Microsoft don’t want to lose this upcoming generation’s console war, then they need to get the word out fast about why they think the Xbox One is $100 superior to the PS4, whether it’s Kinect 2.0, or fancy overlays, or whatever. Keep selling this message, and if you’re successful, then nobody will be talking about the DRM thing anymore.

I will probably still talk about it though, but it’s what I do for a living (sort of).

And we come to the end of another WNR. Hope you’ve enjoyed this issue. See you next week.


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