Posts Tagged ‘Digital Piracy’

Pirate Bay Verdict

April 17, 2009 Leave a comment

The much awaited verdict on the Pirate Bay trial has finally arrived, and the four defendants are now facing some jail time and monetary fines for their roles in abetting copyright infringement. Perhaps this is the expected outcome but what does it really achieve?

The cynic in me thinks that nothing has really been gained either way, because it remains to be seen if this verdict will serve as an effective deterrent to all the other Pirate Bays out there, given that similar high profile cases in the past (e.g. Napster or Grokster) did not stop the rise of other services (e.g. Pirate Bay). So this could well turn out to be just another chapter in the eternal dance between the envelope and those that seek to push it (well its Friday and I like my metaphor cocktails…). On the other hand, if this results in the unlikely cessation of content piracy, I would be keen to see if / how it will affect the bottom line of aggrieved content industry plaintiffs.

Perhaps the problem is not just Pirate Bay or digital piracy at all, as they are probably just mere symptoms of a more fundamental shift in consumer behaviours triggered by the digital revolution. If that is the case then, it may be more sensible and effective to support the content industry and the whole copyright framework in adapting to these changes, rather than engaging in the weary process of other high profile lawsuits which only move the game to another playing field.

On the same theme of litigation, the register reports that the European Commission has called for a change in UK laws to better enforce confidentiality of communications. This in response to the “lack of action” by the UK government over the secret BT / Phorm trials some years ago. It also reported this week, that some companies and organisations, notably Amazon and Wikimedia, have requested for their domains and websites to be excluded from further non-secret trials of this service, in order to protect the privacy of their customers. It would seem that people are indeed paying attention after all.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

Google, YouTube – Facing the Music

March 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Ok, no one is immune to the current harsh economic realities; not even the mighty Google. A couple of recent headlines indicate the typical response pattern of revenue and cost control measures, but where will it end?

According to an article in yesterday’s Financial Times, (see online version here), Google plans to start targeting ads to search users, based on their browsing patterns and habits. This should be a win-win situation for advertisers and end-users. However privacy advocates are concerned about the implications to personal privacy. For one thing, this is not an opt-in scheme therefore users will have to explicitly request removal, also there is the danger that the browsing information so gathered might get used in ways not originally intended.

Also, earlier this week, Google’s YouTube started blocking some video content in the UK. According to an article on PaidContent, this was due to a breakdown in their music licence renewal negotiations with major UK rights society, PRS for Music. The main bone of contention, as ever, was over money: YouTube thinks the licence fees are too high, PRS for Music think otherwise. As a result:

  • Some videos get blocked in the UK (and UK users miss out on their favourite YouTube videos)
  • Cue the usual headlines, sound-bites, and blog chatter (…ok, guilty as charged)
  • Finally, something happens (e.g. law suites), and the dispute is resolved (or not).

But really, who cares? It’s all become so predictable and boring; this never-ending conflict over costs, control and a Darwinian game of one-upmanship, at the expense of the content creator and the consumer.

In other unrelated matters, last week, I gave a talk to a joint BCS / IET / ACM audience about Digital Piracy, Privacy and the Content Economy in Cambridge University’s William Gates Lecture theatre (a great venue). I got a few questions about the potential for using content control mechanisms to support things like: micro-transactions / usage tracking / audit and reconciliation. My answer was that these could also be used in combination with other measures to enable provision of: open, non-intrusive and measurable access to content for users anywhere, anytime and on any device. But that would be far too easy, and too good to be true, now won’t it?


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.