I was just reading about the first RIAA trial against Jammie Thomas for downloading pirated music. One of the things that’s pretty mind boggling about it is that the jury is composed out of people who hardly have any computer knowledge at all.
This is something that I’ve seen mentioned before in trials related to computer technology. Being it cyberstalking, websites with illegal content or file sharing. I don’t see how a jury without some, or even better, substantial knowledge of the internet and peer-to-peer networks can get an idea of what this case really is about. What’s worse is that the outcome of this trial will be a precedent for any future piracy trials. In one Belgian case there was a judge who stopped the trial (temporarily) because he couldn’t grasp what the experts called in to testify where talking about. He didn’t know Jack about computers and was going to speak a verdict on a website copyright infringement case. FTW!
In the RIAA case most of the folks on the jury (according to the Wired article) don’t even use the internet ffs. How the hell are they supposed to get a more complex idea of how file sharing works if they don’t even know the basics of surfing the web or sending an email?
It’s not just the Germans that don’t get how the internet works. The Belgian copyright organisation Sabam won a case in the Brussels court against Scarlet, one of the Belgian internet providers, to stop illegal p2p music downloads.
The idea is to use filters on all p2p traffic and block illegal downloads. That might work in theory, but in reality this means Scarlet will have to be building a huge filtering system tracking all p2p downloads from it’s customers. Privacy anyone?
As with all filtering systems, there will be ways to bypass them by using tunnels, or simply making the transfered files unrecognisable for the filters. How about legal downloads btw? How will those filters know the difference?
Sabam is doing the same thing RIAA has been doing in the States. Instead of changing their failing business model and fix their own problem they are putting the blame with the ISPs and forcing them to fix their problem. Instead of finding a way to offer legal music on the internet in a flexible way that people are willing to use, they are trying to block downloads instead, because they want to sell more plastic disks filled with 50% filler people don’t want to hear.
Look at iTunes ffs, it’s not like people don’t want to legally buy music online right?
Scarlet is of course appealing the sentence in court. Hopefully a judge with some more knowledge of the internet will be in charge of that case…
You can find Dutch articles about the case here, and here.
The German government is making some odd waves lately. I posted about their odd internet censorship policy before affecting Flickr users in Germany, but there’s two posts on Hadez’ blog that really made me raise an eyebrow to who’s in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the European Union.
First there was the law they passed making all hacking tools illegal in Germany. Owning a tool, which means just having it on your hard drive is enough to get sent to jail for a year, or get a serious fine. Hacking tools however are not evil pieces of satanic source code mind you, they are the tools used by security experts and IT network admins to keep their networks running safely, while trying to detect intrusions, or prevent them.
It’s like with a crowbar. It’s used for burglary sure, but not everyone with a crowbar is intending to break into your car or house now is he?
A second one I thought was exclusive for those silly bats that live across the Atlantic. You know, those lads that got Bush junior re-elected and like to bomb small countries and all. They have these debates going down on whether or not Intelligent Design (talk about a contradiction) should be taught in school as an alternative to Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Turns out the same discussion is arising in Germany as well now ffs. Looks like the Americans aren’t the only silly bats out there anymore, and they moved into my backyard dammit.
I’m really hoping the rest of Europe isn’t going to be picking these crazy laws up as well, or we’re al screwed.
Flickr is dealing with a lot of censorship fuzz lately, some legit and some not imo.
For instance in this case where the sex blogger Violet Blue got her pictures censored because her account didn’t make it through the adult filter is kinda shitty. Her account wasn’t packed with porn or anything, but as someone who blogs on the subject of fornication (funny word isn’t it) and all that has to do with it, there are some pics in there showing some skin, and (OMGWTF!) perhaps even a nipple or two.
So her account got suspended and censored, so she got rather pissed about it, which she has the right to of course. In the end everything turned out alright. The Flickr guys apologized to her, which is nice, and the naughty pics are now marked as such so they don’t show up in peoples safe searches.
The idea behind the filtering Flickr does is simple, and a good one. They want people to be in control of what pictures they want to see turning up in their search results. As is the case with Google and Yahoo, safe search filters the NSFW pictures for you. But as has been proven countless times before on the internet, filtering isn’t an easy task, so mistakes happen.
People get pissed of rather quickly with these kind of mistakes though, and in some cases, web 2.0 has enabled the mobs to start spamming their ass off with “flickr sucks” statements all over the intahweb.
For instance in the case where Flickr censors pictures for users from Germany (here). The problem here is that Flickr is forced to do this to apply to German law, and didn’t just apply this policy because they don’t like bratwurst und sauerkraut.
However, tons of Flickr users are now posting and reposting pictures telling Flickr to stop their censoring activities, which they can’t really do anything about without risking a big fat lawsuit. Flickr users who may or may not know at all what the deal is about anyway, judging from some of the comments posted on the support forums…