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Digital Digest "LiveUpdate" Newsletter - Issue 184

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      DIGITAL DIGEST  | LiveUpdate Newsletter - Issue 184

      7 February, 2010

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      INDEX:

      1. Introduction

      2. Weekly News Roundup

      3. Weekly Software Roundup

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      1. Introduction

      So Arsenal didn't win. In fact, we lost, and lost big. Boo. But as badly as the week started, it ended pretty well with iiNet winning a very important court case here in Australia that may determine the future of the Internet industry.

      -- DVDGuy

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      2. Weekly News Roundup

      A very quiet week, in fact, not really enough news to even write up an WNR. Maybe it was just me being lazy, or in a bad mood because Arsenal lost, or the iPad stories going on and on and on. But there was a big story and that also took a large chunk of the news cycle.

      Australian ISP iiNet won its court case against the AFACT, which you can think of as the MPAA of Australia. The verdict was a total surprise to anyone who has been following the trial, but it appears that iiNet got a judge that at least tried to understand just how the Internet worked.

      A little background to the story. The AFACT conducted an operation against the iiNet, Australia's third largest ISP, in which they monitored and recorded illegal BitTorrent and other file sharing usage. After detecting IP addresses that belonged to iiNet customers, the AFACT proceeded to send infringement notices to iiNet to get them to take action against their own customers. iiNet chose to forward these notices to the police as they did not believe they had the legal right to cut off subscribers. The AFACT continued to send notices to successfully set up grounds for a lawsuit.

      So the lawsuit would be about whether an ISP was responsible for the actions of its subscribers, and whether when given evidence of suspected piracy, whether the ISP should have acted to cut off the subscribers in question. The AFACT obviously thought that iiNet had to take action, while iiNet maintained that the issue was for the police and eventually, the courts to decide.

      And this week, we had a verdict in which the judge found iiNet not guilty of infringement. The judge, Justice Cowdroy, found that the AFACT's claims of infringement were somewhat exaggerated. But the main issue that Justice Cowdroy found is that while piracy occurred frequently on the file sharing networks, these networks are not under the control of iiNet. And nor is providing access to these file sharing networks the primary service offered by iiNet. Justice Cowdroy correct identified that providing Internet access is not the same as providing access to file sharing (which is again different to access to illegal file sharing).

      The safe harbour provisions were also mentioned. These provisions under most copyright acts around the world protects companies like ISPs and websites like YouTube from being sued for the actions of their users, as long as they have a policy in place to deal with illegal behaviour. Justice Cowdroy believed that iiNet did have such a policy, but the fact that the AFACT did not think much of iiNet's policy does not mean iiNet shouldn't be protected under safe habour. You can read Justice Cowdroy's judgement in full here.

      And in a further blow to the AFACT, they were ordered to pay for iiNet's legal costs, which has amounted to more than $4 million Australian dollars ($USD 3.5m). The AFACT has yet to decide whether they will appeal the decision, and has already reached out to the government to enact new legislation that would force ISPs to comply with their demands.

      So what does this mean in terms of the copyright debate? Well, it's an important victory for the Internet industry in general, and a blow for the copyright crusaders. It's very likely that the Australian government will do what the courts failed to do for the AFACT, and it might even use the planned mandatory Internet censorship filter to block access to Torrent websites and file sharing services, if it does not enact laws to force ISPs to kick off subscribers with or without due process. And that's assuming AFACT's appeal fails, and all it takes is a judge that is less enlightened than Justice Cowdroy to side with the big money. But whatever the eventual conclusion, the fact of the matter now is that there is sufficient argument, that stood up in court, to suggest ISP based copyright policing should not occur for all the reasons Justice Cowdroy outlined in his judgement. The fact that so many governments around the world are so willing to drop due process and bypass the court system does not mean that their actions are correct or should be unchallenged. Hopefully, this verdict will be referenced  in cases all around the world to put a stop to the "three-strikes, ISP copyright cop" nonsense and get all parties to sit down and find an equitable solution to the real problem of online piracy.

      Speaking of equitable solutions, EA might be publishing a game with a very reasonable DRM, ironically. Although it probably occurred as a direct request by the game's producers, DICE, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will have a DRM system that offers gamers a choice of authentication options. They could go with the the standard DVD check, a simple one without the need for persistent or background software to be installed and without any install limits. Or if they wish, they can authenticate once online and never have to authenticate, either online or do a disc check, for 10,000 days (or 27 years), but be subject to a very reasonable install limit of 10 computers at any one time (if you reach the limit, you can uninstall on one of the computers to be able to install it to another one). Last week, I talked about Ubisoft's new DRM system, which like Steam, will require online authentication each and every time you want to play the game. Bad Company 2's system by comparison is much simpler and much more fair. Of course, you could argue that this system will allow games to be ripped more easily, and that may be true, but harder to rip games still end up being ripped and when that happens, nothing will stop it being distributed illegally.

      As for HD news, there wasn't much other than the typical marketing hype. There are a couple of sales on though at Amazon for Blu-ray movies, and including some very cheap ones and possibly the cheapest ever "major" Blu-ray movie (Heathers for $5.99). Check out these deals and more in our Amazon Blu-ray Price Index section.

      And ditto for gaming as well, with the typical stories about how well our game consoles are doing blah blah blah.

      Hopefully there will be more news next week, there has to be. But I doubt it will be as monumental as the iiNet iiVictory. See you next week.

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      3. Weekly Software Roundup

      February 7, 2010  Scenegrabber.NET 0.9.3.3 Freeware
      February 6, 2010  PopCorn MKV AudioConverter 1.81 Freeware
      February 6, 2010  MovieConverter 1.54 Mac OS
      February 6, 2010  ffmpeg2theora 0.26 Linux/Unix Mac OS Windows Freeware
      February 5, 2010  GOM Encoder 1.0.0.25
      February 5, 2010  Smart Cutter Ps/Ts 1.2.1a
      February 5, 2010  CDBurnerXP 4.2.7.1893 Freeware
      February 5, 2010  SmallDVD 2.4 Mac OS Freeware
      February 4, 2010  K-Lite Codec Pack 64-Bit 3.2.0 Freeware
      February 4, 2010  K-Lite Mega Codec Pack 5.7.0 Freeware
      February 4, 2010  K-Lite Codec Pack 5.7.0 Freeware
      February 4, 2010  Windows 7 Codecs 2.3.5 Freeware
      February 4, 2010  Vista Codec x64 Components 2.3.9 Freeware
      February 4, 2010  Vista Codec Package 5.5.6 Freeware
      February 4, 2010  VideoReDo Plus 3.1.5.-564
      February 3, 2010  EMDB 0.92 Freeware
      February 3, 2010  TMPGEnc MovieStyle 1.1.1.50
      February 3, 2010  DVDStyler 1.8.0 Linux/Unix Mac OS Windows Freeware
      February 3, 2010  Avanti 0.4.5 Freeware
      February 3, 2010  DVDAuthorGUI 1.0.21 Freeware
      February 3, 2010  Datura 0.3.5 Beta Mac OS Freeware
      February 2, 2010  eXtreme Movie Manager 7.0.6.4
      February 2, 2010  DVDRemaster Pro 6.1.1 Mac OS
      February 2, 2010  DVDRemaster Standard 6.1.1 Mac OS
      February 2, 2010  Boilsoft Video Converter 2.01 Added in the last Week
      February 2, 2010  Boilsoft Video Cutter 1.11
      February 2, 2010  MediaCoder 0.7.2 Build 4598 Freeware
      February 2, 2010  AVCHDCoder 10.02.01 Freeware
      February 2, 2010  ProgDVB 6.32.4 Freeware
      February 2, 2010  MKVcleaver 0.4.1.0 Freeware
      February 1, 2010  FFCoder 0.99 Beta Freeware
      February 1, 2010  kmttg v0p7h Linux/Unix Mac OS Windows Freeware Added in the last Week
      February 1, 2010  xVideoServiceThief 2.3.3 Linux/Unix Mac OS Windows Freeware
      February 1, 2010  Subtitle Edit 2.8.7 Freeware


      ======END OF LIVEUPDATE NEWSLETTER======

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