STOP INTERNET CENSORSHIP!!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (a rock in a cave, deep underground, beyond the realm of even the mole people), you might have heard about two new bills being muscled through congress, as fast as the big entertainment industry corporations can muster, in the name of fighting piracy. The U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). These are bills aimed to curb online piracy, however they do so not by targeting actual pirates, but rather by targeting avenues by which a potential pirate might operate. These bills also give the government the ability to shut down sites based on criteria that the Entertainment industry will define.

These bills will effectively allow the government to censor the internet, and will put this loaded gun squarely in the hands of the big entertainment industry execs, giving them the ability the pull the trigger at will at whoever they want, whether it is justified or not. What gets me even more is the that these kinds of bills, that violate the very constitutional rights of all American citizens, are difficult for me to agree with even when they are used to stop terrorism, and save lives. And yet here we are, having our right violated simply to line the entertainment industries pockets! It’s absolutely disgusting.

And to cap it all off, none of these bills will actually prevent piracy. The vast majority of the cases that these bills will end up be used for will be to squash competition, freedom of speech and expression, and to bring ridiculous lawsuits against innocent Americans and their families. These bills will do nothing more than allow the Government to censor the internet, stifling our freedoms, and will just give Big Entertainment industries more ways to control the media and line their pockets. And that, my friends is not right. We need to fight these bills with everything we’ve got.

Please visit AmericanCensorship.org  to learn more, and fight these bills. They are wrong, they target the wrong people, they give the government unconstitutional rights, and they are flat out un-American. Fight them. Tooth and Nail, Fang and Claw. We can beat them.

Go to this site.

http://americancensorship.org/

Do it. Do it now.

Stop American Censorship

You’ll thank me for it later.

Trust me.

PhyreBlade

Behold! The end of the Internet is near…

According to an enterprising group of researchers, the internet is scheduled to spontaeously implode in two years. Yep. Check it:

A flood of new video and other Web content could overwhelm the Internet by 2010 unless backbone providers invest up to $137 billion in new capacity, more than double what service providers plan to invest, according to the study, by Nemertes Research Group, an independent analysis firm. – [Yahoo/PCWorld.com]

Thats right ladies and germs, we will reach the end of the internet in the year 2010. It will be the apocalypse. Life as we know it will cease to exist. Prepare yourself dear humans. The end is near…

Internet Could Max Out in 2 Years, Study Says – [Yahoo/PCWorld.com]

The RIAAs Worms Turn!

The RIAA seems to be a prominent fixture in the online media these days. And given that they seem to have adopted the rather short sighted strategy of knowingly suing both guilty as well as innocent members of the very demographics that they could have been legitimately making a lot of money from, it isn’t hard to see why. But now it seems that they may truly be getting ready to experience a full size serving of their own brand of justice:

In cases which should by rights have been initiated by the Bush government on behalf of innocent families across America, falsely attacked by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, RIAA victims Tanya Andersen and Michelle Santangelo are determined to make the Big 4, as well as companies involved in the sue ‘em all morass, pay, literally and figuratively, for the distress they’ve caused and are still causing.

Go Tanya and Michelle! Though I have some reservations about the long term repercussions of Michelles’ legal approach, ( I think the justification for her claims and the resulting targets are only half right) , I was suitably convinced by Tanya’s list of complaints:

Her amended complaint is impressive. She’s citing negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, federal and state RICO, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trespass, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, deceptive business practices, misuse of copyright law, and civil conspiracy. – [p2pnet.net]

Wow. It looks like the RIAA is getting ready to have the book thrown at them. As I have said on many occasions, I have always felt that the big entertainment industries had all the right in the world to try and protect their business from pirates.

However I think they crossed the line when they started attacking any technology that could be used for file sharing, especially when these same technologies have proven so beneficial for so many other legitimate purposes. Even more heinous was the decision to sue people, en mass, without any kind of conclusive evidence, and use their legal and financial clout to extort them into settling.

What was the worst was when it became obvious that they were knowingly subjecting innocent people to this form of legalized extortion. I kinda think that they were definitely asking for this. And to be honest, the first line of the article actually echoes my sentiments exactly. Why has this obviously monopolistic corporate activity been ignored by the federal government? I am really interesting in seeing how this turns out.

RIAA named in first class action – [p2pnet.net]

The “Pirates” take a stand…

An interesting movement seems to have spawned the desert of Utah. The US arm of a group calling themselves the “Pirate Party”, has proclaimed their intent to become a legitimate political party:

Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting “statements of support,” needing 200 voter signatures for official registration.

“Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process,” Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg.

He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. “Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago,” Jenson said. “Number one on the list is the RIAA’s litigation” against P2P services and the people who use them. – [The Register]

Given the amount of abuse the entertainment industry has been dishing out lately, it is almost no surprise that this group exists, though I will admit I had never heard of them until today. However, I honestly believe that the entertainment industry, in particular the MPAA and the RIAA have been abusing the law.

I do agree that the RIAA and MPAA have the right to take actions to protect their investments. However I also believe that they have been using this as an excuse to violate the rights of others. They have embarked on what is little more than an extortion campaign, or litigation terrorism, in the name of curtailing piracy.

While I agree that piracy is a problem, it seems like nobody has been looking out for the innocent victims that have been needlessly terrorized by the MPAA/RIAA. While groups like the ACLU have been vocal about the issues, it appears that their efforts have done little to helped those who have been the unjust focus of the entertainment industries legal might. It’s about time there was an organization dedicate to this cause. I will be watching these “Pirates” closely…

Pirate Party invades Utah – [The Register]

The RIAA is crazy… Like a fox…

I just read an article talking about how the RIAA is now going after the Universities for failing to forward pre-litigation settlement letters to suspected file sharers:

Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA has come up with another tactic in their attacks on American university students.

It’s now blaming the schools themselves.

The Big 4 enforcement unit is after 16 Philadelphia students, completely ignoring mounting universal outrage against the ongoing harassment.

Actually, this is not so surprising. It fits perfectly with their current modus operandi of suing anyone they possibly can, notwithstanding the legal dilemma of actually trying to prove anyone actually did anything. What is not so obvious is what thier strategy is, and what it does and does not accomplish:

An RIAA ‘press release’ says “unsettled cases” were, “either because the university failed to forward a pre-litigation letter to the student or because the record industry’s initial settlement offer of a discounted settlement was ignored”.

As p2pnet posted, until fairly recently, the Big 4’s practice, “was to have about 750 subpoenas aimed every month not only at adults they were accusing of being massive online distributors of copyrighted music, but also very young children,”… – [p2pnet]

Now here are the important numbers. 750 subpoenas/pre-litigation letters a month. At around $3000 – $5000 per settlement. If we assume the minimum of $3000 per suit and 100% successful settlements, then relying on my rusty math skills that gets them somewhere in the region of $2,250,000/month. $2.25million a month. Thats $27Million a year. How exactly did they come up with these settlement figures?

Now given that file sharing does not seem to have been affected in any significant way by any of this, it seems to me like these lawsuits have taken on another purpose. Like a secondary income. And not just from illegal file sharers, but from anyone they think they can get away with suing. P2P software providers, P2P sites, college students, universities, parents, kids, it doesn’t seem to matter any more whether the people being slapped with pre-litigation papers were actually engaged in the practice of illegal file sharing or not.

The unfortunate thing about this is that you do not even have to be guilty for the RIAA to slap you with a suit. The RIAA knows full well that for the average citizen, it will be cheaper to settle, than to try and retain legal counsel to defend themselves in court, no matter how innocent they are, and are taking full advantage of that fact. The RIAA has adopted the methodology of a crime syndicate that moves into a bad neighborhood, and starts charging all the store owners, both good and bad, for “protection” money.

I can understand the need to prosecute those who are engaged in illegal file sharing, but it doesn’t even seem like they are even really going after file shares any more. Given the nature of some of the targets of these litigation letters, some of who are clearly innocent, it almost sounds like they are pretty much just pulling names out of a hat. Don’t any of the governing authorities see this is getting out of control?

RIAA blames universities for lawsuits – [p2pnet]

A SLAPP in the face of a fair legal system…

I read an interesting article about the MPAA and RIAA strategy for dealing with copyright infringment and, in particular, file sharing:

Going up against big guns
For insight into how tough it is to oppose the entertainment sector, consider the conclusions of some long-shot copyright cases Rothken worked on: RecordTV and ReplayTV ran out of funds before their cases were heard, and MP3Board.com settled.

There’s no telling whether the start-ups would have survived had their cases gone to trial, but Rothken argues that shouldering legal fees and bad press didn’t help.

Applying financial pressure is only part of Hollywood’s strategy, Rothken said. Another tactic is to sue founders as well as their companies. In 2000, the RIAA filed a copyright suit against MP3Board.com, a music-file search engine, as well as the company’s founders.

Instead of risking their own income, the operators of MP3Board.com settled the case and decided to stop linking to MP3 files, Rothken said.

“I can’t say what the MPAA’s strategy is,” said Gary Fung, founder of IsoHunt, a TorrentSpy rival and Rothken client who also is being sued by the MPAA for copyright infringement. “But they do know they have more time and money than we do.” – [C/Net News]

There is no doubt that file sharing technologies have contributed to the illegal piracy of music and video. I also cannot argue that the MPAA and the RIAA have a right to file suits against those who decide to share copyrighted works illegally. That being said, this is decidedly not what they are doing. They have taken the decidedly unrealistic approach of attacking the technologies rather than the people doing the file sharing.

The various entertainment associations have sued numerous torrent tracker sites, on the basis that they are helping promote illegal file sharing. Now it may just be me but this seems to me no better than suing the gun industry for the common use of firearms in the commission of crime, or automobile makers for the high incidence of drinking and driving. And as usual, those who use the technology for legitimate purposes are always the ones to suffer.

What is even more distressing to me is not simply the fact that these suits are brought at all, but rather the strategies being used to win these suits. Rather than relying on the strength of the case, the RIAA and MPAA have begun a the methodical practice of SLAPPing defendants into submission. The SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is designed to ensure a settlement not by virtue of any legal argument, but by wearing down the defendants financial resources until they are unable to afford to continue their defense.

This to me, is the ultimate abuse of the legal system. The fact that this type of activity is legally allowed to happen should be a cause of great concern, even for law abiding American businesses and citizens, because it means that the outcome of future suit brought against you may not be determined by the validity or legal strength of the suit, but rather by who has the most money. And that situation is fundamentally anathema to the concept of a fair and equitable legal system.

TorrentSpy lawyer battling ‘copyright extremism’ – [C/Net News]

Forget OLPC! Wealthy mexican man does OSPV…

OK so OSPV is my made up acronym for “One School Per village.” But this article, I think, demonstrates the right way to help developing or impoverished nations learn to stand on thier own. And interestingly, it does not involve every child getting a laptop…

Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim, who is estimated by some calculations to be wealthier than Microsoft founder Bill Gates, said Thursday he did not care if he was the world’s richest person.

“It’s water off a duck’s back to me,” the cigar-smoking Slim told foreign correspondents. “I don’t know if I’m No. 1, No. 20, or No. 2,000. It doesn’t matter.”

 Slim, 67, told foreign journalists at a luncheon on Thursday that making sure his job was compatible with his family or personal life was more important than his wealth.

 Slim said Thursday his charitable foundations planned to invest $300 million in the next few years to build 100 schools in poor regions of Mexico that will focus on digital education. The plan would later be expanded throughout Latin America. – [Reuters]

Mr. Slim appears to be a man who is in touch with the people he is trying to help and has  a good understanding of what is truly needed. No gimmicks, no fancy schmancy technological baubles, nothing that is not self sustainable. Just straight-up education. That’s is what is really needed. A tip of the hat to you sir, a tip of the hat…

I don’t care if I’m richest in world… – [Reuters]

Anonymous on Fox11… It’s Lulzeriffic…

I just saw a video on YouTube that kinda made me LOL… I know that the topic is probably one of great emotional pain for some, and I’m not a big fan of some of the emotional damage that some of the more malevolent hackers cause, but Fox news’ portrayal of the whole thing was rather… off-base.

I mean, the bomb threat was taken entirely out of context, and yet they had to show some random van blowing up… twice no less… As if to display one of the heinous terrorist acts of malicious hackers. And LOLS “Corrupted” (by evil hackers I assume) = LULZ? Seriously? Either nobody did any real homework for this piece or they intentionally skewed the facts in order to maximize the sensationalism of the story. What happened to unbiased and objective reporting? They have elevated a group of Internet pranksters to the level of violent international terrorists.

The modus operandi of pretty much every hacker I have come across has been to demonstrate their intellectual superiority, not execute hits on people. Unfortunately they do so by messing with peoples heads. Griefing, and other miscellaneous on-line harassment, especially in on-line games and social networking sites are usually their favorite haunts. They do not, as a rule, go out and physically assault people. I mean honestly, how many times has any of you heard of any hacker group killing anyone?

The poor schlub who got his MySpace account hacked in the piece was an easy and unfortunate target. And I’m willing to bet he (or his mom), teed someone off, because in general, that subsequent level of harassment is more work than the average sporadic prankster would be willing to put into it. One more question popped into my head while watching… how many of you honestly believe that this guy lost his girlfriend simply because she believed that he was cheating on her with guys? Yeah… I had to ask…

Fox News 11 covers Anonymous – [YouTube]

Government intelligence goes P2P (and is apparently also an oxymoron…)

Just read a jaw dropping article that described how government employees had inadvertently shared sensitive documents on a P2P network:

Robert Boback, CEO of P-to-P monitoring service vendor Tiversa Inc., and retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, a Tiversa board member, said the company found more than 200 sensitive U.S. government documents during a recent scan of three popular P-to-P networks. The two testified earlier this week before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee. …

… Many lawmakers directed their criticism toward the Lime Group LLC, distributor of the popular P-to-P software Lime Wire, during a contentious hearing Tuesday. But Boback, in a later interview, said his testimony wasn’t intended to cast blame on Lime Wire.

In many cases, P-to-P users override the default security settings in the software. In Lime Wire, the default setting allows users to share files only from a “shared” folder, but many users apparently override the default settings, ignore warnings from the software, and share their entire “my documents” folder or other folders, Lime Group CEO Mark Gorton testified.

In other cases, government employees or contractors apparently ignore policies prohibiting the use of P-to-P software on computers containing sensitive government information, witnesses testified. – [Yahoo/PCWorld.com]

And to top it off, some government officials tried to blame the P2P provider for the breach in security. You know what? I’ve got nuthin’. Just dunno what to say. Either someone has been slippin’ crazy pills into my food, or people are actually thinking less these days. I would much prefer the first alternative to be true…

P-to-P Users Expose U.S. Government Secrets – [Yahoo/PCWorld.com]

The Internet is NOT JackA$$ protection…

The Internet is a great thing. It has brought people from diverse cultures together in ways that could never have even been dreamed of 10 years ago. And I believe that one of the reasons that this has been so positive is the ability to communicate without the racist, sexist, or plethora of other cultural barriers that tend to automatically (and often subconsciously) rise when dealing with people with different backgrounds on a face to face basis. The Internet tends to anonymize us, forcing us to deal with others as they are, not as we assume they might be.

However as with everything, this anonymity also has a down side. There are those who, emboldened by the safety of the computer screen, tend to become more disrespectful, rude and insensitive, and are more likely to mouth-off than they would had they been engaged in a one on one conversation with someone in real life.

[Begin: Rod Serling from”The Twilight Zone“] :

Allow me to submit, for you consideration, a story of two men, and two computers, connected by naught but over 1330 miles of combined copper and fiber, whose virtual conflict transcended the bounds of the virtual world, and ultimately ended in incarceration and flame:

A Navy man who got mad when someone mocked him as a “nerd” over the Internet climbed into his car and drove 1,300 miles from Virginia to Texas to teach the other guy a lesson.

As he made his way toward Texas, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer Russell Tavares posted photos online showing the welcome signs at several states’ borders, as if to prove to his Internet friends that he meant business.

When he finally arrived, Tavares burned the guy’s trailer down.

This week, Tavares, 27, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading no contest to arson and admitting he set the blaze. – [Yahoo/AP]

These two men, as a result of their insensitivity and lack of respect for each other, each paid a terrible price, in spite of the gulf between them, perhaps proving that, even in an age of circuits and virtual interaction, there is still a place for tolerance, courtesy, respect and consideration for our fellow human beings.

More importantly, it is hoped that all will heed the lesson in this: That the Internet is no protection against idiocy. Even here, In The Twilight Zone…

[End: Rod Serling Impression]

Man burns down trailer in online feud – [Yahoo/AP]