Category Archives: Copyright

Disproportionate Response?

Aussie software pirate extradited to the USA because enough people downloaded software cracked by him and his cohorts that, had every single copied program been sold would have generated retail revenue of $US50 million.

In a fun aside, the article points out that anyone accused of pirating software worth more than USD$1000 could also be extradited.

Now I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve seen commercial software cracked it’s so that it could be used as shareware – try before you buy. Which I see as a perfectly reasonable thing to do, given the returnability and fitness-for-purpose clauses within commercial software – i.e. if it sets fire to your house, it’s your problem not ours. So testing before dropping hundreds of dollars on something seems sane. And those who would steal the software rather than test it were never going to buy it in the first place, even if it was impossible to pirate software. I really don’t see what the problem is.

In the meantime, the USA is the only country which voted against a resolution for an arms trade treaty to control the proliferation of small arms in areas of conflict.

I think the places that copyright law is taking us will lead to an uprising. This is getting ridiculous.

Spreading it

A reader on my personal blog left this comment:

09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0

It’s a set of numbers that’s being spread around by a few people at the moment. According to this post:

…it is the HD-DVD processing key for most movies released so far, published on the net by the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) a couple of days ago by mistake.

…and the legality of even publishing it, at least in the US under the DMCA, is apparently in doubt.

This page quotes a Wikipedia article about it which, intriguingly, has been deleted from Wikipedia itself. It’s also caused a ruckus at Digg.

Interesting stuff. Though it’s not like 99.99% of people would have any idea how to apply the number to anything… though I suppose that could change rapidly.

Youtube duped

A teenager from Western Australia claimed to YouTube that a whole bunch of Australian Broadcasting Corporation clips from their show “The Chaser’s War On Everything” were in breach of copyright, and had to be taken down. YouTube duly did so, but then discovered that the kid wasn’t representing the ABC at all — it was a hoax. Indeed, the ABC then told YouTube to put the content back up; that they wanted to get it “out there” as much as they could.

An investigation showed the form sent into YouTube, which was filled-in by hand, and claimed to be acting on behalf of the “Australian Broddcasting Corperation“, with a Hotmail address given as a contact point. John Beohm writes that YouTube then apologised to the individual posters whose videos had been pulled.

In these days of the DMCA, it certainly makes a nice change for the copyright-holder to recognise that the more people see their content, the better, and I suppose it’s not surprising that YouTube is skittish, but a little basic checking of the facts wouldn’t go astray.

Sony’s latest screw-up

Wow. I mean, wow. Will Sony never learn? We all remember the rootkit CD fiasco, right?

They’ve released a bunch of movies recently with a new form of copy-protection which makes the discs unplayable on some DVD players — including some of Sony’s own models.

Some details here: SonyStrikesAgain.wordpress.com — where one comment notes that although the North American/region 1 Casino Royale has this problem, evidently it doesn’t afflict Australia/region 4, so it may not be a worldwide thing, just as Sony’s rootkits didn’t get onto their AU releases.

Evidently it’s a revision of the ARccos DRM system that Sony developed, then appeared to abandon last year, and is a variation on the age-old method of intentionally putting corrupt sectors on a disc.

This, ladies and gentlemen, requires a very special brand of stupidity. One can only conclude that they really do have complete contempt for customers.

But hey, nobody would be having this problem if we’d all boycotted Sony products like we said we would.

Me, I’m not gonna buy a PS3! (OK, so I wasn’t going to anyway…)

AU copyright laws

The AU guvmint’s new copyright laws have received royal assent. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock feels compelled to an FAQ about them.

Hmmm. You’re not allowed to circumvent CD copy-protection. I wonder if that includes holding down Shift to stop the Autorun as you put it in the computer?

Even Kim Weatherall (who I assumed until the other day was a bloke; but she’s clearly not) notes that some of the significant dodgy provisions have been removed from the bill, particularly with regard to parody. Maybe that means I can produce Mcdonalds on Uluru t-shirts?

The UK is also reviewing its laws, and looks set to legalise parody.

And everybody’s seen this by now, but hey, it’s copyright-related: Google copies Yahoo. I mean really copies.

Australia’s new copyright laws

Kim Weatherall’s been tracking the new copyright laws in Australia. The bill has just been published, and oh, what a confusing mess.

Region coding and backup copies — Confusion reigns on this one.

Use of iPods to continue to be, technically, illegal.

Triffic.

Shorter copyright duration

What if the copyright period, instead of concluding at creator’s death plus 70 years, concluded after a period of 20 years since initial performance? Surely, there’s an imperative to create more content if it has only a “short” copyright period? And harmonizing patent and copyright law has got to have benefits.

Who writes software, or produces a movie, or writes a book anticipating income from their work more than 20 years hence? No one, that’s who. So, I’m going to go ahead and change the copyright duration.

Any objections?

AU copyright reforms

The AU government gets with the programme, proposes to make ripping CDs to MP3 players legal, as well as taping off radio or TV for domestic purposes… though you’ll be legally obliged to wipe the tape after watching it. Uh huh.

“Hey did you catch Monday night’s Six Feet Under?”

“Yeah but it’s on too late, so I taped it and watched it the next day.”

“Can you lend it to me?”

“I’d love to but the copyright laws say I’m not allowed to.”

Meanwhile the Brits have trained sniffer dogs to detect DVDs, for the purposes of fighting piracy.

Piracy Is Good?

Mark Pesce delivered a presentation, “Piracy Is Good?“, on May 6th, 2005 at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney. In it, he asserted that bittorrents exhibit demand-driven bandwidth supply, and are thus a better utilization of bandwidth than terrestial television broadcasting. Which is an apples and oranges comparison. But that’s where the title came from.

He then goes on to note that viewers are shunning broadcast television in preference for web-acquired content. He attributes this to the advertising, as I have done in the past. He asserts that Watermarks – or bugs – in visual entertainment are going to become more ubiquitous, inserted as advertising at production time (so, instead of the Channel9 logo in the righthand bottom corner, you’ll see… Nike). I predict someone will become annoyed enough to invent a watermark remover. Oh look, they already have.

So Mark Pesce is wrong. The advertising is going to have to be more subtle and harder to remove. But initially it’s going to be less subtle – animated, say – to annoy the simple-minded watermark removal programs.

Technology will march on, and auto-adapting watermark removers will be developed, and then you’re looking at product placement. I wonder how that will work with sci-fi programs? “Worf, take us to warp factor nine. We have to get to Chase Manhatten Bank to do a funds transfer; I prefer their friendly service and forward-looking technology.” Perhaps we’re looking at the death of sci fi? And historical dramas? And documentaries aren’t looking too hot either. Neighbours should be fine. Perhaps merchandising will be how shows make their production budget.

An observer has noted that the order of release of content is becoming arranged by profitability – so you’ll see more TV shows released on DVD, then broadcast when sales drop off. The world’s gone all topsy-turvy.

A buncha quick stuff

EFF highlights an Australian House Standing Committee report on the US DMCA, and whether or not it should be adopted wholesale by Australia under the Free Trade Agreement.

Meanwhile there’s an open letter to the OFLC about the banning in Australia of the grafitti video game Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. (Mind you, Metacritic only gives it a 73/100 on XBox; 70 on PS2).

OPML 2.0 is out. Let’s hope it doesn’t break OPML 1 like RSS 2 broke RSS 0.9?

The Age on the retro games boom.

Pah, this sucks. After 64 years in Swanston Street, the Technical Bookshop in Melbourne has moved out to the boondocks of LaTrobe Street near Queen Street.