Digital Digest "LiveUpdate" Newsletter - Issue 266
DIGITAL DIGEST | LiveUpdate Newsletter - Issue 266
4 September, 2011
2. Weekly News Roundup
3. Weekly Software Roundup
1. IntroductionHappy Fathers Day to all fathers around the world, at least those in countries that celebrate Father's Day, and hopefully the timing is correct due to timezones and stuff.
We're in the final stretch, nearing the end, it's so sad it has to come so soon. It feels I've only gotten to just know you, yet we have to part soon. So so soon. 2011, I hardly knew ye. It is kind of ridiculous how quickly 2011 has gone by, although I guess not so much for people of Australia, New Zealand, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Japan, Syria, Somalia, the US, and pretty much everywhere else and for everyone else that's had something major happen to them in 2011, natural or otherwise. You know what 2011? I don't think me, and many others, will miss you all that much to be honest.
With an intro like that, you might think that there's again not much news happening, but actually, this week is quite news-tastic I have to say. So let's not waste more word count on the intro, and get into the news straight away.
As you would expect, we start with copyright news. What do you think would be needed to convince everyone that copyright protection on the Internet has gotten a bit out of control? That copyright laws are so biased towards copyright holders these days that it's totally unfair for the rest of us? What would it take for people to realise that there is this huge overreaction to the "piracy" problem? The answer? When a 13 year old Pakistani takes down Bieber and Gaga.
While neither the age, nor the jurisdiction, of the person responsible to taking down the official Vevo uploaded music videos of these mega stars has been confirmed (yeah, as if anything sprung out of the Internet's 24 hour rumour mill ever becomes confirmed, or need confirmation for it to become fact), but the now banned YouTube user iLCreation, did just that, and it took quite a while for YouTube to react, and only when Vevo (owned by music industry giants Sony and Universal Music) took a more proactive role in getting the video reinstated, did the videos resurface again. If it was someone else, like you and me, and not two of the 4 major record labels asking for reinstatement, then perhaps those videos would never again be seen again (which, to be fair, is not a total disaster). Google/YouTube will be asking themselves how it happened and what they can do to prevent it happening again, although they can conveniently blame the victims here, Sony and Universal (and Warner and EMI), for forcing YouTube to be over-sensitive to copyright concerns in the first place. Just like planking and cone-ing, perhaps takedown-ing could be the next big YouTube thing, where people can compete and see who can take down the most popular legal videos, and for how long. It's not incitement if I have no real power of persuasion. Or an audience.
So it was either a well calculated thing, timing wise, or an extraordinarily poor one, that Google this week announced that they're winning the war against piracy. Unfortunately missing the "Mission Accomplished" banners aboard an aircraft carrier stage, Google nevertheless delivered a report on their progress on their various anti-piracy tools, processes and features, all designed to help content holders feel a little more safer at night, and a little less litigious during the day. I don't know if the number of acts of piracy that removing the keywords "rapidshare" from Google's auto-suggest and auto-complete function is even quantifiable, but Google seems to think it's helped. And they've now made it possible for content owners to request and have removed infringing content within 24 hours, in which time Google's lawyers have to fully examine each DMCA takedown request, do the relevant background research, contact the relevant technical departments to implement the ban, all the while filing the appropriate paperwork to record the entire incident to allow for future appeals. I'm imagining some kind of poultry factory farming scenario with chickens replaced by lawyers, and feed replaced by a conveyor belt of money (well, they are still lawyers), and the produce being the "In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org." message you see now and then below Google search results. The next step for Google, as hard as it may be, would be to actually prevent themselves from profiting from piracy websites. If they can do this, maybe they will then get a nice and shiny badge from the MPAA and RIAA for all their efforts, even if it may not actually stop any lawsuits or anything (but the lawyer factory farm would definitely pay for itself if that happens).
From willing self-harm, to full on murder, we move onto the news that Hotfile has been ordered to hand over pretty much everything in their possession to the MPAA, to presumably help them build a stronger case against the file hosting website. Hotfile described this early on as "murder by litigations", and when the MPAA asked the Judge whether it was okay to do it to Hotfile, the judge this week basically said "alright". And so, Hotfile will now have to hand over the IP address of every uploader and downloader, even for files that are perfectly legal and for users outside of the jurisdiction of the court. And as if injury wasn't enough, insult had to be added, as Hotfile will also have to hand over a bunch of financial information. It appears though that the MPAA isn't really that interested in suing individuals, although the very top affiliate probably should start seeking legal advice, but for other uploaders and downloaders, they're only requested the 3 of the 4 sets of decimal numbers, or enough to identify the country of origin only (I suppose jurisdiction does become an issue after all). Not attempting to win understatement of the year award or anything, but things aren't looking good for Hotfile.
But while one file hosting company may be on the way down, another is only just getting started, and it has a pair of famous founders. The names of Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij might sound familiar, and it's because they're two of the co-founders of The Pirate Bay. And together, they've launched BayFiles, a new file hosting service that will compete with the likes of RapidShare, and for now at least, Hotfile. Just what the music industry and Hollywood needs, another TPB production, and now an even easier way to upload files and share them with others. But they needn't be too worried, at least no more worried than they are towards the likes of RapidShare. So still very much worried I suppose. BayFiles will comply fully with the DMCA, and will be as legit as any file hosting service can be, removing files and banning accounts when requested to do so, but not before. And that's the crux of the issue though, is that the content holders want websites like BayFiles to do the "search and destroy", while websites like BayFiles, who are mostly more than happy to `destroy', want content holders to at least do the 'search' (as they're really the only ones who know, with absolute certainty, what we are searching for in the first place). But any S&D operations performed by BayFiles, and staying in the vernacular for now, will have a high chance of "collateral damage", blocking and removing perfectly innocent files just because it was named wrong, or had the wrong bits and bytes in it (to be fair, if you're really going to go and name a ZIP file containing your work related spreadsheet as "rise_of_the_planet_of_the_apes_dvd_screener.zip", then perhaps you need more help than a file hosting service can provide, or you really do want to get fired, and are working towards this noble goal by implementing your own reverse boss button). And if services like BayFiles do not exist, then it's back to the days of spending half an hour sending an 8MB attachment only to get a rejection notice because the recipient is blocking the type of attachment, the size of the attachment, or has a full inbox, and then you get mad and smash your monitor with your keyboard, and gets fired immediately on the spot and has to have security escort you out of the building, after which you go to the nearest bar, gets drunk as a skunk, passes out on the sidewalk outside of your former employer's building, only to wake up the next day, in your urine stained work clothes, as your former co-workers pass you by on their way to work and look at you with both pity and disgust you check your phone and there are dozens of text messages from your wife, with the last one saying "I've had enough, I'm leaving and taking the kids". All of this because of the MPAA/RIAA.
Speaking of urine stains (never really thought I would ever write this phrase in the WNR), Wikileaks (heh, leaks) has served up yet another delicious piece of Australian info, regarding the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft's (AFACT) lawsuit against Australia's third largest ISP, iiNet. I say Australia, but I really mean America, because it turns out, surprise surprise, the MPAA was the brains behind the lawsuit, even though I had simply just assumed that to be the case anyway in my past reporting without any actual evidence or sources (journalist see, journalist do, journalist no have time for background checking). Anyway, it turns out I was right after all, and leaked US Embassy cables show not only did the MPAA run the show, they also wanted nobody else to know it was them running the show, except if I "knew", then I gather everybody else "knew" as well. So it wasn't so much the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft as it was Americans Forcing Australians into a Court Trial (it's the best I can do with my severely mushy brain today, as I was sure there's a better word starting with `F' I could use here). The cables also revealed that the MPAFACT didn't want to sue our largest ISP, that would be the evil behemoth of a corporation known as Telstra (aka Helstra, Tel$ra, a***holes note the three asterisks, for we here in Australia use the more civilized British form of English, you jumper wearing, lift using, petrol guzzling lorry driving barbarians), because Telstra was a company willing to "fight hard and dirty, in court and out" touche.
And now for something completely different. Valve's Gabe Newell is no fan of DRM, except when his company uses it, and he's once again attacking other companies for taking DRM far too seriously. It seems a curious trends that famous gaming people, most of them work for companies that have a great track record for delivering excellent games, are all not too fussed about DRM, and yet the companies that are well know for coming out with disappointing release after release are the ones hell bent on making the paying customer's experience as painful as possible all in the name of fighting piracy (I'm excusing Blizzard from the list, even though they're messing around with "always on DRM" for Diablo III, as they say they're not doing it for anti-piracy, just for anti-cheating). And while pointing out that Valve's Steam platform is practically one big DRM engine that locks gamers to the Steam platform, forces users to wait ages to download game updates before playing, allows publishers to use their own DRM on top of Steam's DRM, and all sorts of nasty DRM like symptoms, you still have to say that gamers, generally, still like the Steam platform. Getting the `Steam' out of a game is not easy if there are no official non-Steam versions of the game, but otherwise, it's not intrusive DRM on the level of SecuRom or UbiDRM. And while the Steam platform, as with any platform really, is a pain to have to be locked to, there are other benefits such as in pricing (Steam sales are awesome. AWE$OME!!), achievements for games that support it, in-game browsing for those that, like me, prefers to cheat our way to gaming success via walkthoughs, the newly added screenshot taking thingy, and lots of other cool features. You either hate it, or you learn to live with it and eventually love it, but at least some do love it, unlike the totally unnecessary UbiDRM (yes, Ubisoft do provide an enhanced online experience with features that some may like, such as online game saves, and these feature do need an Internet connection but for every single second of play? It's like one of those competitions where you can win a car if you're the last person to take your hands off of it, except here, your "prize" is the ability to play the game you purchased with your hard earned money). But basically what Newell is saying is that as long as gamers are happy, you can get away with a lot of DRM-like stuff, and you know, that's fair enough.
In HD/3D news, oh George, what have you done again. Mr. Tweak It is at it again, and the new Blu-ray version of the Star Wars trilogy (and the crappy prequels), will be different again to the DVD version, which is different to the Special Edition VHS, which is different to the original theatrical release.
You know you're an a*** when you've got an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the thoughtless changes you've made to your own film, and but I guess critics of fanboys like myself do have a point in that it is "his film", after all. Actually no, they're not right. It's not his film, no more than Citizen Kane was Orson Welles' film, no more than the Statue of David belonging solely to Michelangelo. Film is a shared medium, and our combined experiences when viewing essential the same piece of content is what makes it one of the greatest icons of the 20th century. It would be like if Leonardo Da Vinci rose up from the dead and started making changes to the Mona Lisa! The civilized world would be outraged if that were to happen, also slightly frightened by the sight of a zombie Renaissance Man, and slightly confused wondering why he hasn't decomposed completely by now.
So when, in the last WNR, I mentioned that George Lucas would change creepy puppet Yoda in Episode I to the slightly comical digital version used in Episode II and III, I didn't really give a crap because, I mean, it's Episode I. Nobody cares about the prequels, and Mr. Lucas should feel free to chop and change all he wants maybe he will eventually make the worst movies ever made watchable. But if you go and change Return of the Jedi, and not only that, but probably the most important scene in the entire film universe, by mirroring a line of "dialogue" taken from one of the worst scenes in the entire Star Wars film universe, and already the butt of a many Internet jokes, then you've officially gone over to the dark side and nothing, not even adding "No" in post-production, can redeem you. This is the changed scene by the way, so for those that are curious, but don't want to buy the expensively priced Blu-ray set to find out how disappointed they should be.
Look, some will say the reaction to the change is an overreaction, and they may be right. But why change, what for me, was a perfect scene. The pleading of the son, the true evilness of the master unmasked, and the silent, determined, change of heart from the father, from the dark side back to the light. Perfect. Vader does not need dialogue to make it clear what was going through his mind, why he was doing what he was doing, and the silence actually enhances the scene. Well, not any more. In the words of Simon Pegg, what a f**king shame.
And finally in gaming, Sony is taking advantage of the recent PS3 price cut by doing some rebranding, and distancing themselves from the whole PSN fiasco. Nothing too drastic, but it seems the arrogant and slightly misleading (from a class action lawsuit perspective) "It Only Does Everything" has been changed to "Long Live Play", and the awkward and curiously name Qriocity service has been renamed Music Unlimited, and along with the PSN, now all fall under the Sony Entertainment Network banner, along with Movie Unlimited for, um, movies. Only the PSN doesn't follow the naming convention, yet, so don't be surprised if it's renamed Gaming Unlimited at some point, although not now because it would be far too obvious a PR exercise right now.
For the slogan change, it's good Sony are trying to move way from the previously, highly arrogant and, plainly false one from before. But a cheetah doesn't change its spots overnight, not if the leopard has anything to say about it, and another Sony exec has been caught calling the Xbox 360 "inferior technology", and accusing Microsoft of using developer requirements to protect the aforementioned inferior technology. The Sony exec was responding to a Microsoft exec saying how multi-platform titles were usually better on the Xbox 360 because of Xbox Live and DLC exclusives. Both have their points, but Microsoft's console was not the "inferior technology" that has had to drop prices recently just so it can stop being third in a three way race.
Wow, that was a bit longer, and more caustic, than I thought it would be. On some days, you get into this groove when writing, and you know what, it's fun to just go along with it, enjoy it, until the very real threat of defamation lawsuits pull you back a bit. This was one of those days.
See you next week.
3. Weekly Software Roundup
September 4, 2011 CoreAVC 184.108.40.206 September 4, 2011 CCCP 2011-09-03 beta Freeware September 3, 2011 MKVtools 2.4.7 Freeware September 3, 2011 PlayOn 220.127.116.113 September 3, 2011 PotPlayer 1.5.29599 Beta Freeware September 2, 2011 J. River Media Center 16.0.168 September 1, 2011 Smart Cutter Ps/Ts 1.3.9f September 1, 2011 XviD4PSP 5.10.260 (5-Series) Freeware September 1, 2011 Freemake Video Converter 18.104.22.168 Freeware September 1, 2011 XMedia Recode 22.214.171.124 Freeware August 31, 2011 MeGUI 2050 Freeware August 30, 2011 VidCoder 1.0.1 Freeware August 30, 2011 K-Lite Codec Pack 64-Bit 5.2.0 Freeware August 30, 2011 K-Lite Mega Codec Pack 7.7.0 Freeware August 30, 2011 K-Lite Codec Pack 7.7.0 Freeware August 30, 2011 DVDStyler 126.96.36.199 Freeware August 29, 2011 ffdshow Rev. 3978 (generic/x64) Freeware August 29, 2011 LameXP 4.0.3 Beta 1 Freeware August 29, 2011 MediaPortal 1.2.0 RC Freeware August 29, 2011 Subtitle Edit 3.2 RC1 Freeware August 28, 2011 kmttg v0p8g Freeware August 28, 2011 Media Player Classic HomeCinema Edition 188.8.131.5277 Beta Freeware August 28, 2011 SPlayer 3.7 Build 2437 Freeware August 28, 2011 NextPVR 2.2.6 Freeware August 28, 2011 PS3 Media Server 1.40.0 Beta 2 Freeware