Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MAFIAA?




Are copyright organisations, with the media giants who support them, the protectors of the artists? Or are they the destroyers of the media?



This is a question which has gone through many peoples' minds the past 15 years. We'll firstly go back to the origins of the copyright law...






In the time before the internet, producing and distributing media was an expensive business. You had to produce the media itself (which was expensive, and still is in certain areas), then produce books/discs/tapes/papers and distribute those to the shops. You also had to advertise the product, which is still expensive today (using conventional methods). All in all, it was an expensive business.



To protect their business, the authors urged for copyright laws already in the 19th century. In the 20th century, copyright laws were finally enacted and strengthened. Firstly, works were protected. Later on, copyright organisations were established by the media industry (which was now a large industry). These copyright organisations pursued stronger copyright laws, to protect the media industry. This led to things like rent seeking.

Once the media industry was mature, and dominated by several giant corporations, the conditions for artists went downwards. The giants decided who would become famous, and who didn't. Still, producing media was expensive, so it was a legitimate reason.



Then came the internet. At first, people saw it as a niche thing. It wasn't worth investing into. This changed when the internet became mainstream during 2000-2010. Many people discovered the power of youtube, filesharing and other things. An entire generation has grown up with these things by now. It's deeply embedded into their culture.

Still, the media industry didn't want to adapt. Yes, there are things like spotify & iTunes, but these are still largely dependent of the large media corporations. Independent media groups and artists, who had trouble before the rise of the internet, could now easily make themselves known to the public. This was a thorn in the eyes of the large media corporations. Their monopoly was broken.

Their answer to losing their monopoly? An even harsher reaction to the people and small artists than before. They even resorted to acts which are on the border of what is allowed within the law, possibly even crossing that border!



This has caused much anger at the masses on the internet. Many organisations have risen up to combat the war being waged by the large media industries. Some do it by the democratic ways (Pirate Parties), some through lobbying, publicity and advising (Bits of Freedom, La Quadrature Du Net, Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc.) and some resort to activism, sometimes in a more harmful way than the other (Anonymous).

This might lead to the downfall of the large media industries, but it isn't too late yet. If they manage to adapt to the realities of the information society, they might still have a chance. Currently, the media giants abuse both the consumers and the artists. It's time that they use more ethical and fair ways to achieve their profits.

The strongest will not survive. It will be the most adaptive to change who will survive. - Darwin.

About the author:
Roberto Moretti is a Dutch IT student, blogger, activist and is active at the Dutch Pirate Party. He blogs often about copyright-related subjects.

Many thanks go to Samir Allioui for writing a blog here and here (in Dutch) which has been the main inspiration for this blog post.

This blog post is licensed under the Creative Commons license. Sharing and using parts of this blog is allowed, as long as you give credit to the original author (Roberto Moretti). Images taken from deviantart. Please keep the filenames, in order to give credits to the original artists.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The dangers

Hello everyone,

this is a follow-up on the blogpost 'The Time is now'. I talked about COICA and related things. The EFF reported a few weeks ago that COICA is delayed.

The danger isn't over yet. ACTA has entered the very final stages of negotiation. The last negotiation round ended, and it will be reviewed now. Once it has been reviewed, countries who want to sign it can sign it.

ACTA has been toned down in harsh voice, but it doesn't make it less dangerous. The treaty is filled with vague descriptions of several things. This leaves it open to the interpretation of outsiders, which will likely benefit the rightsholders.

La Quadrature Du Net reports that ACTA is still a very dangerous treaty. I agree with their conclusions. Also, if they manage to tone it now down a bit, and get it forced through, it can be altered later on by the ACTA board. This can still bring in things like '3-strikes' clauses and things like that.

Even if COICA and ACTA get forced through, downloading can't be stopped most likely. It has become too deeply imprinted in an entire generation of people, to be removed. This will be a serious issue for the media-giants, but artists can also benefit from it. Several artists, who use bittorent and similar technologies to spread their works, have benefitted greatly from alternative business models.

These new business models, and the power which the internet gives to the consumers, is a major thorn in the eye for the media giants. This is the entire reason why they're lobbying for harsher copyright laws. What this will lead to, I don't know, but we will see.

Stay tuned!
Roberto Moretti

Friday, October 8, 2010

A new way of sharing torrents

Hey all,

A friend's computer got a 'cold' sometime ago. It gave me an idea.

Torrent sharing sites are often attacked and shut down by MPAA/RIAA/etc.

To circumvent torrentsites altogether, I combined the way how they spread msn viruses with torrents. This way, you can easily share on almost any site, without anyone noticing it's a torrent file unless they got the instructions.

It works this way:
1. You make your torrent file (or use the one you want to share) and encapsulate it in a .rar/.zip/.7z. Try to make it as small as possible.
2. You pick a random image which you want to use, it must be .png or .jpg.
3. You mix the files with the command prompt (type cmd in start). Browse to the folder containing both the archive and image: copy /b *imagename.extension* + *zip//rar/7zfilename.extension* *filename.imagefileextension*
4. You throw the image which you've created on a image sharing or FTP site. Some sites block hidden data in images.
4a. Check if the file works by doing steps 5-8.
5. Someone downloads the file.
6. The downloader with the instructions (posted on a forum or included in the image) changes the image file extension to the archive extension.
7. Open it with the appropriate archive opener (IE: 7zip/winrar/etc, no winzip!)
8. Torrent on!

I discussed this in an IRC chat, and tested it with several people, it works.

You can do step 5-8 with the image below, which is an innocent Creative Commons file:

http://www.star-apocalypse.info/Files/Images/embeddedpiratepartylogo.jpg

Change it to .rar.

------

How do you like it?

Copy me happy,
Roberto

----notes from Ernesto (torrentfreak.com)----

It seems this technique has been used before, see here: Article on torrentfreak.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

The time is now

Hey all,

I wanted to write something about the recent developments in real life and the internet here.

Recently, alot of pro-copyright organisations started fighting copyright infringement more actively. As some of you may have read, this lead to a modern witchhunt against pirates and like-minded people.

This didn't end with just fighting them in the courts, but even resorting to more criminal ways. Things like hacking, blackmailing, harassing and bribery has happened. This has caused much anger at the already angry public. While the mainstream media may try to keep the issues revolving around this silent, the general public can't deny the dangers any more. The internet has turned into a battlefield, and soon it will also get to real life. Anyone who tries to ignore the facts will be left in the dark eventually.

As posted in an earlier blog post, I talked about the attacks on copyright organisations by the 'anon' group (many news articles state 4chan is behind it, but it isn't true. 4chan is merely one of the recruiting areas for anon). This is escalating, indirectly causing damage to over 8000 sites.

While it's likely that the mainstream media are going to try to create negative publicity about 4chan and anon, it's actually one of the groups which fights for civil liberties (although possibly in a childish way). The impact has been great, and it might become more serious over time. While the attacks keep going on, the copyright industry has been working on a counterattack for some time. The ramnifications of this counterattack could be greater than the attacks by anon.

The internet is currently the backbone of most of the communication going on in the (western) world. The internet is currently still free, but that is at great stake. The counterattack by the copyright organisations, named COICA (Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act) will change the internet as we know it today forever. It will not only cause the internet to be controlled by the US Government, but it also increases the corporation's control over the internet.

If the free internet would disappear, the freedom of press would be gone too. And with this, most of the non-biased information sources will be gone. This is not only a serious threat for the internet, but also for the democratic process itself. Since what will provide us with truth, when the only 'truth' we will know comes from one single source? This is why the general public can't ignore the situation any more.

Besides 4chan, there are several other groups which fight the current developments. These organisations include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Pirate Parties International and several other groups spread around the globe. In my eyes, it is critical that we support and vote for these groups, if we want to reach a true democracy.

Also, research in several countries concluded that piracy is good for prosperity and economy. The same goes for free flow of knowledge and information. This has been the prime source of inspiration for these organisations. These groups generally defend civil rights and prosperity of the entire society the best. Many current political parties fail to address the current situation, which isn't smart at all. Developments will currently continue. The question will be: Will the general public wake up in time to prevent a totalitarian world?

It's time to take action now, so feel free to spread this story and tell the people about this! Defend your civil rights, take action now!

Copy me happy,
Roberto Moretti