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Copyright Promotes Censorship and Surveillance, Cannot Rescue Broken Business Models

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Thoughts and observations about who is being served by today’s copyright “law” (written by the copyright monopoly)

Copyright reform in the digital age is an important topic [1] because more often than not we see copyright abused to kill information or censor it. In a world of abundance through sharing everyone including artists would benefit; monopolists and middlemen, however, would not.

The Pirate Bay is not copyright abuse although it can, if misused, contain copyrighted material against the will of the copyright holder/s (not always same as the creator). The Pirate Bay is still online [2], but its founder gets treated worse than serial killers, showing perhaps that “law” these days is an instrument of the rich and powerful. Those who call for ridiculous new “laws” (like “Six strikes”) may actually be the real criminals [3] and when illegal raids are used against people like Kim Dotcom (with biased “justifications” to come only years after the act [4]) we just know that copyright “law” deserves little respect. It’s written by lobbyists and politicians funded by billionaires who profit from their cartels. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” is currently being censored by those thuggish billionaires, using copyright “law” of course [5].

Torrents have just turned a decade old [6] and one must remember that a lot of this technology is being used for totally legitimate purposes by very legitimate entities, including businesses and governments. Torrents should be celebrated — not demonised — for they improve utilisation of the networks while reducing surveillance.

Don’t let scapegoat rulings [7] scare you and remember that those who hunt down sharers are deemed human rights violators, according to the European Court Of Human Rights [8]. A lot of those who are prosecuted are not even guilty of copyright infringement. Remember that “Google Discarded 21,000,000 Takedown Requests in 2013″ [9] (almost unworkable to do because the total number of requests was 235,000,000). How can any site keep copyrighted material (and check validity of claims) without employing thousands of staff to work 24/7 and hopefully make correct rulings 100% of the time? It’s impossible. Sites that have copyrighted material on them (uploaded by users) cannot honestly be prosecuted unless they deliberately turn a blind eye to the problem and support/advocate the problem. Some nations have already moved on, realising that it’s impractical to stop sharing [10] (one way or another people will share files, even using physical devices like portable drives) and some artists too are trying to evolve (even if it’s just a rumour [11]) rather than just litigate.

Google can explain the issue at hand pretty well because it does challenge current copyright law in various ways, e.g. in fair use of scanned books. To demonstrate the copyright problem of scale, consider YouTube. Every single second, hours of footage are uploaded. How can a moderator check the source, assess in context fair use (must view the original), assess satirical/critical additions, or even verify with the copyright owner whether takedowns are desirable? This is not possible. It’s infeasible even if Google had thousands of staff doing it 24/7. So should the only alternative be to completely ban all such video sharing sites? And if so, what about self hosting of videos? Who would regulate it, the ISPs and the hosts? The other problem with copyright “law” is that it destroys data hosting sites; some people may occasionally put infringing material in their Web-based filespace (e.g. DropBox) and in order to enforce copyright “law” scanners (in effect surveillance) need to go through personal files, essentially opening the door to the NSA (which sought to add DropBox as a PRISM partner). Hence, copyright law is not just a tool in the censorship toolbox but also in the surveillance toolbox. It’s clear who benefits from it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Fundamental Cultural Rights Must be at the Heart of Copyright Reform in Europe!
  2. Pirate Bay Back in Sweden’s Calm Waters After .GY Suspension

    The Pirate Bay’s domain troubles seem to be never ending. Just a day after the troubled torrent site found a new home in Guyana, the site’s new .GY domain has already been suspended. The local domain registry informs TorrentFreak that all domains that violate its policies will be suspended immediately. The Pirate Bay, meanwhile, has decided to return to the relatively calm waters of Sweden for the time being.

  3. “Six strikes” Copyright Alert System may violate antitrust law

    Antitrust law is as thoroughly unlibertarian as IP law is, though my guess is patent and copyright do more damage to property rights, freedom, the free market, and the economy.1 The perverse thing is that the state helps to create monopolies by its various policies (patent, copyright, FDA regulations) and then it turns around and uses its antitrust regulations to punish companies for acquiring these monopolies.2 And, also perversely, the use of antitrust law itself can limit the abilities of private actors to deal privately with “piracy,” competition and knockoffs, which then supports the argument that IP is needed (and then the IP rights, once granted, get the companies in trouble with antitrust law if these IP monopoly rights are “abused”). (As an example: antitrust law has been used against the fashion industry, and the movie chain system, making it harder for these industries to engage in private measures in response to knockoffs and “piracy”.)

  4. U.S. Releases More Evidence of Megaupload’s ‘Mass Infringing Use’

    The U.S. Department of Justice has released a new 191-page filing in which Megaupload is portrayed as a massive piracy hub. The Government is using data obtained from Megaupload’s seized databases to back up and expand several of the allegations against Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants. Among other things, the evidence suggests that “repeat infringers” drove a lot of traffic to Mega’s sites. The document further shows that roughly 43% of all files streamed on Megavideo received a takedown notice.

  5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town… And EMI Is Keeping The Copyright

    We were just talking about the latest efforts to remove termination rights from musicians (and other artists), and a number of termination rights battles are still ongoing. Most of the existing ones are slightly different from the ones we’re talking about — and it gets pretty down in the weeds technically. In short, there are different rules for works created prior to 1978 and those after 1978. Most of the focus is on the termination rights for works created after 1978 — though there are some interesting ongoing battles concerning works created prior to 1978… including that song you just can’t stop hearing this time of year: Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

  6. The Matrix ASCII: Oldest Torrent Alive Turns 10 Years Old

    A fan-created ASCII version of the 1999 sci-fi classic The Matrix is currently the oldest torrent alive. Created exactly 10 years ago the file in question has achieved iconic status, piquing the interest of dozens of downloaders week after week. Warner Bros, is not known to go after this type of fan-art, so those who are interested can proceed to download without worry.

  7. Crazy Calculations Behind $652,000 File-Sharing Damages

    Earlier this week a torrent site user was hit with a damages claim of $652,000 for uploading one movie to the Internet. With the huge amount undoubtedly still ringing in the 28-year-old’s ears, questions are now being raised about how this figure was arrived at. It’s an amazing process that shows that sometimes copyright holders may as well just think of a number, double it, multiply it by the day of the week and then add it all to their dog’s age.

  8. Reminder 2: Hunt For File-Sharers Violates Fundamental Human Rights (Says The European Court Of Human Rights)
  9. Google Discarded 21,000,000 Takedown Requests in 2013

    Google discarded 9% of the 235,000,000 allegedly infringing links copyright holders asked the company to remove from its search engine this year. This amounts to 21 million URLs for which Google took no action, either because the requests were illegitimate or were duplicates already submitted in previous notices. NBC Universal, Fox and Lynda.com have the worst track record in this regard as more than a quarter of their requests were discarded.

  10. How To Solve The Piracy Problem: Give Everyone A Basic Income For Doing Nothing
  11. Why the Iron Maiden ‘Playing for Pirates’ Error is Such a Disappointment

Links 31/12/2013: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 31/12/2013: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 31/12/2013: Applications

Posted in News Roundup at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Internet Censorship is Expanding Worldwide and We Need Free Software to Fight Back

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tower bridge

Summary: As the United Kingdom follows Chinese leadership in censorship we find ourselves dependent on freedom-respecting software that bypasses aggressive filters

Censorship is a fight against freedom of speech and it is also a symptom of society growing oppressive. Once we lose our ability to speak out (or broadcast particular views) we lose our ability to criticise and push oppressors away.

GNUnet 0.10 recently came out, announcing the release in GNU sites and also some Linux-oriented sites like Phoronix [1]. To quote Michael Larabel, GNUnet enables “censorship-resistant file-sharing services, VPN services, the GNU Name System as a decentralized and censorship-resistant replacement to DNS, and GNUnet Conversation for encrypted VoIP support.”

This may sound like a tool one would need in Iran or China, but given what we’re seeing the West, we now need it everywhere in the world.

As a quick roundup of some disturbing developments (mostly from this month in the UK), British politicians want to ban satirical messages [2] and they also want to ban some of the press [3] (although they don’t say it like that). British groups like ORG warn about UK blocking and filtering [4], noting that that British censorship itself is becoming invisible (almost censored, a recursive issue of sorts) [5]. Here in the UK we are basically following the route of Orban in Hungary [6], limiting the media’s free speech and censoring whatever the officials deem “inappropriate” (in Hungary, the racists too are burning books [7]). This is tyranny. The British filters already prove to be a farce by banning the gay and trans Internet [8], civil liberties Web sites [9] (perhaps for mentioning the “F” word, freedom), etc. The British Pirate Party is concerned [10] because by the time the politicians ban a lot of alternative voices there will be nobody left (with a voice) to speak out about it. Remember when Amazon (now CIA-connected) banned Wikileaks for no apparent reasons, essentially kicking it out after pressure from politicians? Many people still remember it [11]. This was censorship at hosting level, never mind Web filters. Here in the UK we already learn that WordPress bloggers were blocked by TalkTalk (large ISP) [12], demonstrating the threat of over-blocking [13]. In France, the government goes further than censorship and even fines people for expressing themselves [14], so in some sense we’ve not gone as far as the French.

David Cameron is no better than a Chinese dictator when it comes to censorship [15] (he also brags about buying censorship equipment from China, as reported by the BBC). The BBC says that his filter blocks education Web sites now [16]. It’s nothing to do with porn and copyrights anymore [17] (if it was ever about those to begin with). Those were pretexts, and each is softer a pretext than “terrorism” and “paedophiles”. The UK shows not only its contempt for journalism these days [1, 2, 3] but also for free speech. We need Free software like Tor and GNUnet to bypass this kind of tyranny.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. GNUnet 0.10 Drops Its Use Of RSA 2048

    GNUnet 0.10.0 is now available as a major update to this open-source secure, peer-to-peer networking stack designed to protect the privacy of its users.

    The GNUnet framework allows censorship-resistant file-sharing services, VPN services, the GNU Name System as a decentralized and censorship-resistant replacement to DNS, and GNUnet Conversation for encrypted VoIP support.

  2. ‘We need to watch that’: David Blunkett calls for satirical TV shows such as Mock the Week to be reclassified as ‘current affairs’
  3. Cameron warns UK press: sign up to royal charter or else

    David Cameron has warned the press that it runs the risk of facing “hideous statutory regulation” in the future if the Independent Press Standards Organisation declines to seek recognition under the terms of the new royal charter.

    In an interview with the Spectator’s editor, Fraser Nelson,, a strong campaigner against the royal charter, Cameron said a “less liberal, less enlightened government” of the future could impose statutory controls unless the press acted now.

    The prime minister spoke out a few weeks after 90% of national newspapers and most regional publishers announced that they would join the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso). The body, whose members include the Telegraph Media Group, Associated Newspapers, News UK, Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell, is declining to seek recognition from a panel that is to be established under the terms of the royal charter.

  4. Help ORG monitor UK blocking and filtering

    This weekend showed that the debate on blocking is getting serious and worrying. We aren’t being given any of the information we need to check what is happening as a result of new filtering tools. We don’t know what, how or why sites are blocked. We need to know, and you can help.

  5. O2 pulls blocked URL checker as wave of new customers activate their phones
  6. 84-Year-Old Philosopher Rallies Opposition to Hungary’s Hard-Line Government

    Mr. Orban has been criticized by the European Union and human-rights groups for limiting freedoms of expression, among other controversial political moves

  7. Once again, books are burning in Europe

    Many more Hungarians are looking to ‘reclaim’ Hungary’s Nazi past; not only the extremists who publicly burn the works of Jewish writers to cheering crowds.

  8. Filter firms are destroying the gay and trans internet
  9. The UK “Porn” Filter Blocks Kids’ Access To Tech, Civil Liberties Websites
  10. Web blocking. The Collateral Damage.

    The move to have web blocking by default from the major ISPs was presented as a victory for the moral majority and no different to the TV watershed. Of course we, and many others, pointed out the dangers and inevitability of under- and overblocking. But we, and everyone else who actually know something about this issue, were dismissed with an argument along the lines of “We put a man on the moon. Technology is brilliant. Something must be done. Or are you no longer the Making-It-Done people?”

  11. Cloud fallout continues from Amazon-WikiLeaks kerfuffle

    When one director of IT looks back at the cloud market, he still hears echoes of the unresolved Amazon-WikiLeaks cloud controversy from three years ago.

  12. Why WordPress bloggers were blocked by TalkTalk, and what it tells us about Internet filtering

    At the end of November a number of WordPress blog admins complained on WordPress forums that they were having problems accessing their accounts. It appeared that TalkTalk subscribers who had WordPress blogs could not access their administration pages over https, and so couldn’t write and publish new blog posts.

  13. Ten recommendations to ISPs for dealing with over-blocking

    We started looking closely at internet filtering by mobile networks a couple of years ago. We knew that we could try to learn lessons from the way their default-on systems worked that could be helpful if and when systems for domestic ISPs were rolled out. We found that it was hard to understand what was blocked and why and that over-blocking was a serious problem. We also found that it was hard to get the Government or ISPs to take it seriously. We published a report in May last year, jointly with LSE Media Policy Project, setting these things out.

  14. French far-right politician Jean Marie Le Pen fined for racist Roma remarks

    Jean Marie Le Pen, the former leader of French extreme-right group the National Front, has been fined €5,000 for suggesting Romanians were “naturally” inclined to steal.

  15. David Cameron: Stop Sleepwalking the UK into Censorship
  16. Porn filters block sex education websites

    Pornography filters used by major internet service providers are blocking websites offering sex education and advice on sexual health and porn addiction, the BBC has learned.

    The four major internet companies have started to roll out so-called porn filters to their users.

  17. ISP Blocks For Copyright And Porn Denying Access To All Sorts Of Important Information

    Just as copyright maximalists are declaring victory in claiming that there’s no problem at all with having ISPs censor the internet, reports are flowing in concerning all sorts of serious problems. Over in the UK, ISPs have begun implementing the mandatory porn filtering that Prime Minister David Cameron has been pushing, and the results are about what you’d expect: all sorts of non pornographic sites are being blocked, including important sex education sites and, more troubling, rape and sexual abuse information sites (while plenty of porn is getting through).

When GNU/Linux on Desktops/Laptops Starts to Outsell Apple

Posted in GNU/Linux, Security at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The allure of GNU/Linux and its constant growth is likely to increase the threat of back doors

THE NSA must be worried that Google is gaining ground in operating systems, unless Google is already part of the backdoors conspiracy (which is very much real). Now that Chromebooks are beating MacBooks or “Chromebooks’ success punches Microsoft in the gut” [1] (Microsoft Nick too acknowledges this [2]) the NSA is going to have to start working hard on compromising Android, ChromeOS, and GNU/Linux distributions from the inside (they all have Linux in common and the NSA has already tried to compromise Linux [1, 2, 3, 4] and perhaps succeeded). Well, Apple is compromised by the NSA and so is Microsoft (complicity). Most phones and tablets already use Linux (through Android) and according to yesterday’s talk by Jacon Appelbaum, there is more spying in Android than just through carriers (Appelbaum shows that even Solaris is being targeted by the NSA).

GNU/Linux predictions for 2014 are mostly positive [3] because with Linux in particular we’re talking about majority market share (taking smartphones into account). Some Windows machines are now being turned to dual-boot machines with Android [4] (Android entering desktops, not Microsoft entering mobile) and GNU/Linux is being recognised as roughly on par with the proprietary operating systems [5,6], having gained a lot of share [7]. SJVN has just argued [8] that GNU/Linux “quietly grew stronger over all areas of computing during 2013,” but let’s ensure it stays freedom-respecting and free of backdoors; the NSA uses Fedora to spy on Windows users (Appelbaum has shown this), demonstrating that for secure computing the NSA recognises GNU/Linux. Unless we reject all proprietary code/blobs (including proprietary graphics drivers) we can never protect ourselves — let alone see — back doors. The campaign for GNU/Linux world domination has been a success, but we now need to pursue freedom and security, too.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Chromebooks’ success punches Microsoft in the gut
  2. Chromebooks Seize Big Chunk of Commercial PC Market
  3. Linux Predictions for 2014? Let’s Talk Direction…
  4. ‘PC Plus’ Machines Being Prepped For CES To Run Android On Windows In Retaliation Against MSFT

    How desperate are OEMs to make lemonade out of the Windows 8.1 RT lemon? They’re going to be pushing something called a “PC Plus” initiative at CES this year, which in a nutshell is simply the ability for Windows tablets and laptops to run Android apps or dual-boot Windows and Android.

  5. Windows vs Mac vs Linux: The Pros And Cons
  6. Is Linux Better Than Windows and Mac?
  7. Global Triumph Of */Linux In 2013

    It’s not as if */Linux dominated everything in every way. */Linux did dominate everything but the desktop in every way. The big thing that happened in 2013 is that */Linux took huge share of retail shelf-space at last and has begun to eat up the web stats.

  8. 5 top Linux and open source stories in 2013

    Linux, open source software, and the open source method quietly grew stronger over all areas of computing during 2013.

NSA Does Not Need Microsoft Windows Crash Reports to Spy on Windows Users, Apple Equally Spy-Friendly

Posted in Apple, Microsoft at 6:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple and Microsoft provide access to their customers’ (useds [sic]) computers, essentially treating customers like enemies

WITH Microsoft’s back doors for the NSA (more examples revealed yesterday by Jacon Appelbaum of Wikileaks), the NSA is taking over Windows users’ entire computer system, accessing their files, webcams, and microphones. If this sounds far-fetched to people, then it means those people are simply not paying attention.

In reports from around 5 years ago, a lot of the above became quite predictable; these reports were routinely revealing that NSA participated in Apple releases of its operating systems (which probably just means adding back doors) and Microsoft releases of Windows, which we already know has back doors.

NSA propaganda channel CBS, which hosted somewhat of a ‘revolving doors’ mole [1], has just helped Microsoft make a non-denying ‘denial’ [2] about the back door which Microsoft boosters [3] and pro-Microsoft sites [4] with shameless pretences [5] also help deny. Microsoft, the facilitator of NSA back doors, wants to pretend to be angry and surprised by the fact that the NSA infiltrated Windows messages. Microsoft uses broken encryption or no encryption so as to appease the NSA, its special PRISM partner, so only a fool would believe all that spin. In reality, as Glenn Greenwald just put it [6] (see the article with Vista 7 as the highlight), NSA can “literally watch every keystroke you make” if you use Microsoft Windows.

But let’s not focus only on Windows. Apple too is a rogue company and as we showed yesterday, it's a surveillance-hungry company. iPhone turns out to be somewhat of a Trojan horse too [7-12]. “NSA Has ‘A 100% Success Rate’ Putting Spyware On iPhones” [13], as one article put it. Appelbaum suspects Apple helped make it so. Only fools would buy Apple products from now on.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. NSA’s Personal Propagandist For CBS Officially Takes Counterterrorism Job Everyone Knew He Was Getting
  2. Microsoft responds to report NSA snooped in Windows
  3. Why NSA spied on inexplicably unencrypted Windows crash reports
  4. Microsoft Windows crash reporting system used by NSA for ‘passive’ spying, report says
  5. NSA Uses Windows Error Messages To Spy On People
  6. Glenn Greenwald: The NSA Can “Literally Watch Every Keystroke You Make”
  7. The NSA has nearly complete backdoor access to Apple’s iPhone
  8. NSA worked on iPhone spyware to remotely monitor users, leaked documents show
  9. NSA Spyware Allegedly Gives Backdoor Access to iPhones
  10. The NSA Reportedly Has Total Access To The Apple iPhone
  11. The NSA Has a Backdoor Called ‘DROPOUTJEEP’ for Nearly Complete Access to the Apple iPhone
  12. State Dept. whistleblower has email hacked, deleted
  13. DOCUMENTS: NSA Has ‘A 100% Success Rate’ Putting Spyware On iPhones

Belluzzo and Elop Became Synonymous With Microsoft Moles That Destroy

Posted in Microsoft, Wikipedia at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rick Bellouszo

Summary: Nokia the latest casualty of Microsoft entryism and the “Elop effect” makes it into Wikipedia

BACK in October there was an article titled “How Stephen Elop Destroyed Nokia” and Wikipedia now has an article about the “Elop effect”, which is another term coined after a Microsoft mole destroyed a company (as Belluzzo did about a decade ago).

There seems to be no turning back for the Microsoft-occupied Nokia, which became somewhat of a patent troll. As for Nokia’s products, they’re a joke. As one new review put it, “Nokia’s new 2520 tablet is one to avoid” and “After testing the device, I wonder why Nokia bothered.”

Making products enables Nokia (Microsoft) to look less like a troll and a bit like a real company. Either way, Elop killed this company and he became somewhat of a meme.

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