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Six-Strikes and You’re Out: the MPAA, RIAA & the Center for Copyright Information

It was over a year ago that the MPAA and the RIAA announced they would be introducing a groundbreaking anti-piracy plan in conjunction with US ISPs. The scheduled start was set for July 2012, the parties involved state that they are not yet ready to implement the graduated warning program.

MPAA

In a previous post I reported that once implemented, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) will begin to take proactive measures to track down online deemed to be pirating media. Copyright infringement violators will be progressively warned about their actions, escalating over 5-6 notifications until the ISP will drastically cap the user’s bandwidth or even revoke access.

"With regards to timing, CCI is rigorously working towards implementing the Copyright Alert System in a way that is consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and with the needs of subscribers," a spokesperson stated.

The CCI is now hoping that ISPs will begin sending out graduated warnings later this year, but have not commented as to a reason for the delays. Such large delays it the plans implementation suggests that there have been logistical issues in the plan’s implementation.

"At this time, CCI is not ready to announce the experts we will use to evaluate the methodologies used by the content owners and ISPs to identify alleged piracy and deliver notices to the right consumers," said a CCI spokesperson.

Other Concerns

  • It has been suggested that the company hired to conduct tracking may not be made public to curb protests.
  • There are increasing amounts of new subscribers to VPN Internet providers in the US, presumably in anticipation of the schemes implementation.
  • There are increasing fears that backdoors will be used in the deal which may allow the MPAA and RIAA to request personal details of repeats infringers for legal action.
  • There has been no clear definition of what will happen to third party providers (free wi-fi providers) in this graduated six-strikes theme.
  • In a controlled state, who polices the police?

Certainly the issues of copyright protection and privacy have a long way to develop before a mutually beneficial method is established that protects everyone involved and allows the end user sufficient freedom.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:59 am on July 16, 2012


 

Hollywood & ISP Spies Are Watching YOU!

A partnership between the RIAA, MPAA and major ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast and Hollywood and Big Music, could allow your ISP to police your internet usage once a final agreement is reached. The partnership would see these ISPs spying on your activity to monitor for sharing copyrighted movies or music files from your computer.

Traditionally, your ISP attempts to protect you and your data by utilizing software and hardware to keep the connections between your computer and their servers secured. The irony of course is that with the new graduated response plan dubbed the “Center for Copyright Information” (http://copyrightinformation.org/) would make the ISPs involved responsible for policing and enforcing the violations and would see offending users warned, restricted and eventually cut off from the Internet for successive infringements.

Until now, media companies have had to try and scour the internet in an attempt to find and locate violators, but if the agreement goes through, the studios will have associated ISPs sniff packets of incoming data to and from their customers computers. The process of the escalation of infringements is structured as follows:

  • Rights holders track infringing Internet users and send notices to ISPs.
  • ISPs used this data to send warnings, called “Copyright Alerts”, to subscribers.
  • If subscribers fail to improve their behavior, further warnings will be issued.

ISPs will be given some discretion as to the variety of sanctions, but would range from throttling back connection speeds to limited browsing or termination of the account.
The agreements between the MPAA, RIAA and ISPs in the United States will be completely voluntary. The ISPs will insist that they are completely within their rights to amend their Terms of Service to accommodate such an agreement and will almost certainly do so quickly.

&Voluntary cooperative solutions are a priority focus and we believe that, in combination with law enforcement action, voluntary actions by the private sector have the potential to dramatically reduce online infringement and change the enforcement paradigm,& said U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.

“We will continue to push forward to encourage voluntary cooperative actions on multiple fronts. Our ultimate goal is to reduce infringement online so we will continue to assess our approach to ensure that it is as effective as possible.&

Not only does this new agreement rekindle the online privacy and piracy debates, but it also raises some equally disturbing problems:

  • Sharing an internet connection (be it private, business, or public) becomes a liability to the owner, who becomes responsible for an individual’s activities on a network or shared connection.
  • Expectations of privacy are lost. Companies that deal in vitally sensitive information are not only at risk of someone seeing sensitive information but are now become a liability if the information goes public.
  • And the most obvious Big Brother paradigm: If ISPs are required to police you; who will police them?

In the light of such measures being introduced and other perceived infringements on Internet freedoms, a campaign to establish a Digital Bill of Rights & Freedoms from Active Politic.com has been gaining momentum. It hopes to establish an Internet consisting of:

  • The right to a free and uncensored Internet.
  • The right to an open, unobstructed Internet.
  • The right to equality on the Internet.
  • The right to gather and participate in online activities.
  • The right to create and collaborate on the Internet.
  • The right to freely share their ideas.
  • The right to access the Internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are.
  • The right to freely associate on the Internet.
  • The right to privacy on the Internet.
  • The right to benefit from what they create.

The Internet and the sharing of information (public or private) is still in its adolescence and will require much more deliberation and ratification of laws before we witness an Internet where media companies feel protected from piracy and users are guaranteed to have the freedom to share information without the fear of reprisal.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:01 pm on July 9, 2012


 

Apple: On the Charge!

apple controller

Over at Apple things are changing to give the company even more power, profit, and exclusive control over it’s customers than ever before.

The good news is that Apple has been charged and found guilty of misleading Australian consumers who purchased Apple’s advertised “iPad with WiFi + 4G” only to find it’s not compatible with the 4G networks in Australia.

This resulted in a $2.25million fine + $300,000.00 in costs for Apple, a fine that seems light given the gross disregard for Australian consumer laws that Apple showed by selling a product that cannot deliver on it’s advertised specifications.

Indeed a small price to pay to purchase Australian tablet buyers without investing in efforts to make the hardware work with the country’s ISPs.

Protecting you from yourself :

Apple also made headlines by patenting an anti-surveillance technology that endeavours to mask a user’s on-line activity with fake information.

Clone Troopers

In a nutshell the service would hide your real activities behind a wall of fake information. If you ‘like’ a Mars Bar™ then your clone would like a brand of chocolate bar that directly competes with your choices. In essence it’s like an electro-acoustic muffler that covers your on-line activity with white-noise.

There is some implication that Apple has a technique to confuse actions of the clone with your actions, but I’d have to see that in action to honestly discuss it.

At the end of the day this means that instead of Apple and ‘others’ knowing about your interests/habits, only Apple will have accurate information, and they can claim that all other ‘targeted advertisers’ are second to them in accurately promoting to someone’s interests.

To me, this reinforces that Apple customers are the sole property of Apple, including their information.

Soul’d Out?

Apple has some great changes coming for loyal consumers. They are spending the time to remove the excellent Google Maps application, which is a free service, and replacing it with Tom Tom maps, which they likely had to purchase/invest in.

It’s also rumoured that the next update to Apple’s Siri app will focus on data from Apple partners like Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, and OpenTable, instead of Google.

This was a brave move to protect Apple from Google’s growing competition in hardware markets. If Apple doesn’t limit Google growth with every effort they can muster, Apple consumers will start to see why so many people are switching to Android.

From a SEO perspective, the fact that Apple, and it’s users are getting away from Google is worth noting. When I am optimizing a site, I’m doing it for the good of the site/company, not my preferences in search engines.

So if I had a client who sold flower arrangements or something that is very likely to be searched for with Siri, I’d seriously be considering the competition and rankings over on Yelp as part of their external ranking strategy for coming months.

Spending your money for you…

These changes from free services to paid options won’t cost consumers too much more, at least not compared to the new 19pin iPhone interface that Apple is switching to starting with the iPhone 5.
The old iPad and iPhone adapters
You heard that correctly, all those accessories you have purchased over the years with iPad/iPhone connections are all going to be junk. Not to fret however, Apple’s authorized partners will sell you all new devices, and are already working on a new line of must-have add-ons featuring the new connectors.

This way, all the cheap knock-off adapters/accessories that aren’t making Apple any money are going to be worthless and Apple will be climbing back into your pockets to kick those imposters out.

And thus the walls of the garden appear to be growing, taller, thicker, and electrified on both sides.

Speaking of Power & Charging…

In more promising news the process of pulling solar power from infrared light is closer to ‘practical application’ with recent progress in the field of carbon nanotube research over at MIT.

If you look at a typical solar panel, exploring the reaction between light energy -> power conversion, you’ll note that infrared (non-visible) light energy is largely wasted.

This is especially troublesome when you realize that ~40% of the sun’s light energy that reaches our planet surface is actually in the infrared spectrum and isn’t being converted to electricity by traditional solar panel technology.

Plus this new research is pointing to a compatible technology that can be added to existing installations vs. replacing existing solar panel installations.

Here’s the relevant section from the original article:

The carbon-based cell is most effective at capturing sunlight in the near-infrared region.

Because the material is transparent to visible light, such cells could be overlaid on conventional solar cells, creating a tandem device that could harness most of the energy of sunlight.

The carbon cells will need refining, Strano and his colleagues say: So far, the early proof-of-concept devices have an energy-conversion efficiency of only about 0.1 percent.

So while the recent announcement is exciting, and very promising, we won’t see the results for some time to come due to efficiency/cost issues which need to be resolved first.

The real news is that folks worried about investing in current solar tech need not worry as much about the future if the next improvements are going to be complimentary to existing solutions.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:10 pm on June 21, 2012


 

Google Advisor: Where have you been all my life?

Admittedly, when I read the announcement that Google Advisor was here to help me manage my money the first thoughts were about privacy and that last bastion of private information Google hasn’t touched yet: Banking.

Gloved hand that is reaching for banking and credit info

Being wrong never felt so good!

Google Advisor is not (at the moment) a way to suck more private information from you, it’s actually more of a consulting service for comparing bank accounts, credit cards, certificates of deposit, and more.

Google Advisor

As someone who’s setup review sites for various services/offerings I can tell you how handy/popular it is to break down competing services so the consumer can select something that meets their exact needs.

Google Advisor claims that the information it’s showing is based on my data, but a 0% intro rate on transfers for 18months? If that’s really available to me I’m going to have to send Google some chocolates.

Google bought QuickOffice

QuickOffice Logo

Google bought the mobile office suite ‘QuickOffice‘ which allows ‘App-Level’ access to office documents for mobile devices based on Android/iOS/Symbian.

This move seems redundant with Google’s ‘Docs’ suite offering even more connectivity to your documents/spreadsheets/presentations, but that is just a cloud service, not an ‘App’ and you can have more offline control of your work if you have an ‘App’ vs. a cloud service.

Plus you can’t argue with the users, they want ‘Apps’ and will pay for them.

Google bought Meebo

Meebo Logo

I’m not sure if this was related to Yahoo’s ‘Axis’ bar plugin that came and went with zero fanfare, but it’s an interesting purchase for SEO interests.

Meebo is a handy social media tool with some great options for ad placement and on-line marketing. SEOs not already dabbling with the tool should take a look, like yesterday.

If you’ve been managing your Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.., profiles without a management tool, aggregation sites like Meebo are really what you’ve been missing out on.

We know that Google owned properties have more relevance and trust on the web than similar services/products. After all, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

So if you were using some other social aggregation tool, and were doing it solely for SEO awareness, you can safely assume it’s worth the effort to try out Meebo for a potentially improved result/relevance from your efforts.

We will be doing some testing (as we always do) and will blog about our results to further expand on what the service offers over others. This may even warrant an article or two?

SEO news blog post by @ 12:42 pm on June 5, 2012


 

Online Privacy Offenders List: Who’s Got Your Back?

Concerned about your online privacy? You should be according to a new study from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in which they investigated the privacy policies of 18 major Internet brands and companies in an effort to assess whether these companies will publicly commit to protecting their users when a government agency seeks access to user data.

online privacy

The EFF looked at criteria such as company’s terms of service, privacy policies, published law enforcement guides (if any) when putting together their list of "Who’s Has Your Back?"

Other criteria considered was the company’s past history of advocating for user privacy in the courts and if they were members of the Digital Due Process coalition who works to improve outdated communications laws. EFF also contacted the companies directly with their finding to give each an opportunity to respond and provide evidence of improved policies or practices.

The EFF states that the purpose of this report is an attempt to hold accountable those companies that hold private user data. EFF hopes this report will encourage these companies to make public commitments to defend its users against over-reaching government bodies.

"The purpose of this report is to incentivize companies to be transparent about what data flows to the government and encourage them to take a stand for user privacy when it is possible to do so."

Some factors that the EFF used to evaluate each of the companies:

  1. A public commitment to inform users when their data is sought by the government.
  2. Transparency about when and how often companied hand data to the government.
  3. History of Fighting for user’s privacy rights in the courts.
  4. Will fight for user’s privacy in congress.

Who's Got Your Back Infographic

The Results?

The short answer is that the worst companies for protecting user privacy were shown to be Skype, Verizon, Yahoo!, AT&T, Apple & Microsoft.

  • Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter have upgraded their practices in the last year.
  • Comcast and Yahoo! gained a recognition for advocating for user privacy, but failed in all other areas.
  • AT&T, Microsoft & Apple, although members of the DDP coalition did not observe any other best practices factored into the report.
  • AT&T, Verizon and MySpace Comcast were rated the lowest in overall privacy protection; which is especially troubling considering that they provide internet connectivity to many thousands of subscribers.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:33 am on June 4, 2012

Categories:Privacy

 

Salespeople are evil, even at Google

If you use a Google product or service to call someone instead of sending them some GMail, that conversation isn’t relevant to Google, at least not yet.

I can just picture the sales team at Google are sitting around thinking about how knowing their users, via analysis of email/search/etc.., drives their product, and how people using their services via video/audio are escaping that analysis.

And yet, doesn’t Google own the most sophisticated voice analysis system on the planet? Wouldn’t it be really easy to compress audio/video data, upload it to a Google server, and process it for relevance?
Let’s say you kept the NKOTB concert a complete secret because it’s your anniversary gift to your wife, and Google realizes you’re at the concert by the audio in the background of a phone call + your general location? If that means that Google now includes ‘Download NKOTB live at xyz concert’ adverts in your ad stream for a few days following, wouldn’t that be great?

Well those salespeople managed to convince someone at Google it’d be wise to at the very least patent such a method so that in the coming years they aren’t licensing it from their competition. Seems smart right?

Not with all the FUD – (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that is lingering on-line, no sir, this is war with the tin-foil beanie brigade.

Even Google Trends shows us how trust is at an all time low:
trust
trust - Google Trends

I love the regional breakdown on that search…

First of all, patenting a technology doesn’t guarantee it will happen; How long have we had flying car patents and still nothing feasible?

Secondly, what are the odds Google is going to force nervous users to flee to competing products by snooping on conversations without consent?

And finally, in several key locations around the planet, it’s technically illegal to record someone without their consent. Since a cell phone could pick-up a background conversation, it would be legal suicide to try and implement ‘eavesdropping’ technology without a boatload of safeguards, warnings, and disclaimers.

Nerds are Still Cool However..

We’ll need to talk about this more ‘in depth’ at a later stage in it’s development, but Google’s Knowledge Graph is very exciting.

Have a look at the Knowledge Graph video released yesterday by Google:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmQl6VGvX-c

I’m sure Bing and competing search engines will just claim Google is evil and trying to keep you on their pages by giving you the answers you need instantly, but if that’s their idea of evil then slap on the horns and poke me with a trident. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 10:45 am on May 17, 2012


 

Finnish them! (Google Glasses and WiFi Liabillity)

WiFi Pirate Party

In a piracy case that’s been sitting around since 2010, a Finnish Court(*Ylivieskan käräjäoikeus) has officially sided with the defendant, stating that she is not liable for her open WiFi connection.

The details of this particular case were very unique in that the timing of the infringement, a 12-minute period of piracy, occurred shortly after the woman in question hosted a public play with an audience of over 100 people in her home, which used to be a school until she purchased it.

Since there’s clearly no way to prove the home owner committed the act of piracy the court moved on to deliberate if the woman could be liable for ‘copyright infringement’ simply for not applying password protection to her WiFi connection.

After some deliberation the court concluded that an owner of open WiFi cannot be held responsible for the acts of third parties. Had this not been the final decision the legal status of all other open WiFi units, and wireless devices in general would have suddenly become questionable.

Personally, when I consider the frightening implications of assigning blame to someone who is partially a victim in a crime is horrible.

Lets put this in another context:

How would you feel if someone used a sophisticated cordless phone to attach themselves to your mom’s old cordless base station, ran some credit card fraud with her phone line, and she went to jail/was fined because she didn’t have enough security on her cordless phone?

It’d be like charging someone with a robbery because the suspects eluded the police by driving through someone’s property. You can’t say someone’s guilty of a crime because they didn’t lock their driveway gate.

While these examples aren’t exactly the same thing, this case opens the door to all sorts of concerns where we can’t hold people accountable for unwittingly providing an avenue for crime.

Google Glass Design is Patented

Not only does this show some further commitment to ‘finishing’ the Google Glass project, it also gives us a ‘sneak peak’ at a bit more of the design of the hardware.

Google Glass - Patent Schematic

Patent Links:USPTO #1, USPTO #2, USPTO #3

 
In particular I found the ‘behind the ear’ data module really interesting and it answers a few questions I had about how expensive it would be to get the needed circuitry down to a compact enough scale to fit into this product design.

I’m guessing that the top area near the ‘eyebrow’ with the ‘hashing’ marks is touch sensitive, allowing you to trigger things like photo capture or toggle an option that you need to be triggered explicitly.

I don’t need to tell readers that I’m personally excited about wearing my cell phone ‘inside’ the glasses I already wear every day. People who worry about the weight clearly don’t know much about eye-wear and balance.

The only thing I can see in this design that worries me is that it might have a tendency to be ‘right side heavy’ and I’m sure they could resolve that by moving something like the battery over to the other side and wire it via the frame.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:09 pm on May 15, 2012


 

No Browser Bans on Windows 8 ARM Edition

We could have ‘spun’ the information that it’s very unlikely we’ll see competing browsers in ARM edition of Windows 8, explaining that the difficulties make it the same as a ‘ban’…

…But we respect the fact that all (3?) of our readers come here for the truth on these topics, and only dirty laundry needs a spin cycle.

Where else is FireFox ‘banned’?

ChromeOS ? Yep!

iOS ? Yessir!

So why would Firefox/Mozilla come out today and only complain there’s a ‘ban’ on Firefox for Windows 8 ARM Edition?

Well from what I can tell, they never did, and the ‘b-word’ was all ‘spin’ by a very annoying technology news site that keeps amazing us with bad headlines and horribly inaccurate publications.

The TRUTH is that it will be VERY hard for any company to get approval for a browser running in Windows 8 ARM Edition because it’s not just ‘another version’ of Windows, it’s a Mobile OS with very clear goals that make it unique.

First of all is memory handling and battery use. By now we should all understand that you can’t deploy programs coded for x86 operating systems and expect them to sip carefully on resources like batteries and memory without some major changes.

Since ARM is aimed at ‘portable’ we can also expect people to seek more privacy and security on these devices. Allowing any-old-app onto the OS won’t happen. You’ve had to have a certificate to publish your apps on Microsoft’s mobile operating systems since the very first days of Windows Mobile, and that will not change any time soon.

If Microsoft wants to protect the quality and end user experience of their mobile products, locking down risky third party software clearly is one of the best ways for them to do it.

This is in no way a ‘ban’ on applications, and Microsoft admits that they are willing to help developers reach a quality standard that will permit them to publish to this new mobile platform.

On the plus side, I was tossing out some rather negative feelings about Microsoft’s investments in technical news sites, and this latest fumble leaves me with some doubts as to who’s invested in whom. Either that or this oft mentioned news source is chock full of people who not only don’t know what’s going on but they don’t even know the hand that feeds them? Crazy.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:10 am on May 10, 2012


 

First Self Driving Car is Licensed

It’s official, if you see a car drive by with nobody inside, the license plate has a red infinity logo, and you’re in Vegas, that really happened, you’re not just in bat country.

011011110110111001100101

 
Google can now legally send it’s self driving cars out solo, with nobody inside.

I had to say that to myself to fully appreciate how impressive this moment is in history.

Sure this puts a twist on Driving Miss Daisy 2 – Drive Harder, but overall I’m very excited about the countless ways this will improve our lives, save gasoline, time, money, and most of all, lives.

Driving Miss Daisy 2
Hopefully Mr.Freeman won’t mind?

 

Why Buy Facebook Stock?

Lets say you had money that isn’t already invested in proven winners like Google, HTC, Intel, etc.., and you wanted to invest in something a bit different, and for some reason wanted to gamble on something as fickle as social media (remember MySpace?).

Personally, even with that list of caveats, I wouldn’t be looking at buying FB stocks, and Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, agrees.

In an interview that is circulating the web like mad, Mr.Ohanian explains why he wouldn’t invest anything in Facebook, citing their support of CISPA as a primary reason. While I agree that the CISPA support is horrible, my list of concerns is a bit longer.

For my needs I’d want to pick a business with a clear path forward, not one with heavy investments from Microsoft, yet promote’s the competition’s browser :

Use Chrome on FB
This is taken from the Power Editor tool in FB

 
I also wouldn’t invest in a company that’s decided it’s crucial to place privacy so far behind promotion.

These ‘login to view this story’ roadblocks are a bane of FB and recent studies back up my own findings: people will not login to FB to read something. It’s much easier to highlight the title and right-click it for a Google search and that’s what users are doing.

When you stop listening to your users, and usher them to the competition, you really can’t be shocked when people don’t struggle to get their wallets out for a chance to buy some stock.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:59 am on May 8, 2012


 

Internet Censorship, Privacy and Net Neutrality Updates

It seems like Internet censorship, privacy and net neutrality are continually in the news these days and today is no different…

Britain to Block Porn Sites

The Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron is reported to be announcing "network-filtering plan" that would target pornographic websites.

family photo

Initially the campaign received little support from the Prime Minister and was met with criticism from digital right groups and a variety of industry bodies, the movment is being spearheaded by The Daily Mail and MP Claire Perry

MP Claire Perry states that this is not censorship. Plans are to have ISP users being forced to opt-in in order to receive anything rated as adult content. “There is a ‘hands off our internet’ movement that sees any change in how access is delivered as censorship,” she said. “We are not being prudish, but we just think the current method of blocking that material is broken."

Feds Return Seized Music Site

feds

Feds seized a popular Hip-Hop music site on assertions from the Recording Industry Association of America of copyright infringements and that the site was linking to four pre-release music tracks.

Control was relinquished to the owners of Dajaz1.com after 13 months with Feds unable to produce sufficient evidence to warrant any civil or criminal charges.

Feds state that the inability to obtain evidence was largely due in part to apparent recording industry delays in confirming infringements according to the court records. The site was returned without explanation or apology.

Although the Internet has been available en masses for over 20 years, we are still far from reaching any kind of consensus over these issues. Certainly conflicts will continue to arise over copyright infringement, censorship, privacy and net neutrally.

The conversations that arise from these ongoing debates are necessary to shape the future of the Internet and many more discussions are required before we can reach an acceptable balance of protection for the industry and the artists it represents and the freedom and exchange of uncensored information.

SEO news blog post by @ 3:56 pm on May 7, 2012


 

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