My window to the world

P2P will not be illegal in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Aug-2011 14:56

I've seen some comments around saying P2P is illegal come 1st September and the new copyright law is enacted.

To be clear: P2P is not illegal. It's the distribution of copyrighted material without the proper rights to do so that it is.

P2P can also be used for software distribution as well as distribution of content that is no longer copyrighted, or content whose authors decided to make freely available (even if they still retain copyright).

Here are two web sites where you can find content legally available through P2P (torrents):

Old UPS out, new UPS in: Eaton

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jul-2011 20:19

In the last two months a couple of my Belkin UPS (800VA and 1200VA) died. More likely the battery needed replacement anyway. But couldn't come in worst time - with all the power cuts in Wellington due to heating requirements because of the extreme cold, our desktops here at the Geekzone Home Office had a bouncy night...

So  decided to let me try a couple of their UPS. One small Eaton 3S UPS and the rack mounted/tower Eaton 5PX 1500.

While the Eaton 3S was easy - plug to the wall and plug the couple of devices to it, the Eaton 5PX is a different beast altogether. First it comes in a 35 Kg box. The box comes with sliders and feet, so you chose rack mounted or tower form factor. It's a bit noisy because of a fast fan. But it packs a punch. Just look at the LCD pictures for the up time lower in the post:

Will be using these for a while here and see how they perform...

Atlantis space shuttle: thanks for all the fish!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jul-2011 22:06

Amazing infrared shot of Atlantis (NASA Space Shuttle) after its last landing just few minutes ago:

And a side shot:

Well done Challenger, Endeavour, Discovery and Atlantis. Well done to the crew and control. Amazing to have seen the first flight, and to have seen the last one, over 29 years of space exploration.

Scope of New Zealand copyright law changes limited to P2P file sharing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jul-2011 11:59

Sharing a release received from InternetNZ today:

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) has obtained clarification from the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) that the intention of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 is to cover copyright infringement by online file sharing using peer-to-peer protocols only.

The new notices and penalty regime introduced by these amendments is not intended to cover video/music streaming websites or online file lockers.

InternetNZ Chief Executive Vikram Kumar says, "What this means is that watching videos on YouTube or via blinkx, streaming music from Grooveshark, and downloading from online file lockers like MediaFire and 4shared will not be subject to the changes introduced by the amendments to the law coming into force on 1 September 2011. MED's confirmation addresses some of the questions that arose when we were looking at the law changes in detail".

"It keeps the scope of the changes narrowly focussed on copyright infringements by online file sharing via peer-to-peer networks and applications. This will be welcomed by many people. However, despite the intentions behind the law, the definitive interpretation will come from decisions made by the Copyright Tribunal and Courts if this aspect of the law is ever tested."

"Streaming websites and online file lockers typically provide copyright owners with a more direct means of enforcing their rights.

Generally, this is achieved by copyright owners providing a notice directly to the website that infringing content is appearing on the site and needs to be removed. For example, YouTube has tools like Content ID and a Copyright Verification Tool that enable copyright owners to easily identify, control, and even remove their content from the site."

"This clarification doesn't mean that copyright infringements by means other than peer-to-peer applications and networks aren't covered by the Copyright Act. The Internet Service Providers' liability provisions inserted by the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008 of general infringement (92B), storing infringing material (92C), and caching (92E) still continue. Rights owners can continue to seek enforcement through the Courts. However, they can't use the new streamlined provisions of sections 122A to 122U for alleged infringements relating to Internet Service Providers' storage and caching of infringing content."

"This is a good time to emphasise that peer-to-peer technologies aren't in themselves bad. Quite the contrary. These technologies provide significant advantages for many legitimate uses, such as eliminating the single point of failure typical of client-server systems and distributing computing resources. For example, peer-to-peer technologies are extensively used by popular services like Facebook, Skype and Twitter as well as for efficient data distribution in scientific research and Linux distributions. So blocking peer-to-peer protocols rather than focussing on copyright infringement in response to the law changes is a bad response."

Explanatory note

"Streaming" is a technique for transferring data so that it can be processed as a steady and continuous stream. This allows a person to start watching online, say a video or TV show, without waiting to get the whole file. Typically, streaming is used in a one-to-many situation. "Peer-to-peer" on the other hand is a distributed architecture where peers are both consumers and suppliers. People can connect directly with other people and is therefore used in a many-to-many situation.

Examples of peer-to-peer protocols include Gnutella and BitTorrent.

Popular peer-to-peer software includes uTorrent, BitComet, FrostWire, Ares, LimeRunner, and Vuze.

Online file lockers are ways for storing and sharing a wide variety of files online. Examples of online file lockers include MediaFire and 4shared.

How Leica lenses are made

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jul-2011 11:58

A brilliant video showing the technology behind the manufacture of Leica lenses. It explains why lenses are still so expensive:

My unofficial HP Discover 2011 blog

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-May-2011 13:23

I've created an unofficial HP Discover 2011 blog, to keep those topics related to the conference from personal ramblings here... Check it out, grab the RSS feed and make sure to follow it for behind the scenes information, and other non-personal ramblings.

DVD is dying...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-May-2011 09:04

A report going around says "studio shipment of DVDs fell 43.8% to 226 million discs last year". Some more numbers here.

Obviously, one would have thought, something needs to be done to prevent this industry to die! It shouldn't follow the steps of the LaserDisc VHS. Governments should implement three strikes law to prevent people obtaining entertainment from other, nefarious means. Isn't that right?

Then we stumble to this:

"Consumers are now opting to sign up for streaming and-or rental services such as Netflix," analyst Wade Holden wrote. "They are using video-on-demand services more and more as they discover these services can be cost-effective." His study did not look at sales of Blu-ray discs.

According to the Digital Entertainment Group though, including Blu-ray and digital total home video spending was down 3.1%.

Could this be the case of one new technology killing the previous one? Even if it is, remember how the entertainment industry likes to scream about the CD sales going down, but never talk about the online sales?

It's always convenient to forget these things, so it's good to repeat: the study is just pointing out that one old technology is going out, two different technologies are replacing it. Nothing to see here.

Governments don't need to create new three strikes laws to protect the industry, thank you very much. Perhaps they should create laws for police to go looking for counterfeit operations, you know, the ones where some people actual profit in crime? And perhaps the entertainment industry should think of expanding digital offers instead?

Recording industry could reach billions... But they aren't playing ball

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-May-2011 12:26

As per my previous post Is "lost sales to piracy" a fallacy, the problem is really coming down to the content industry not knowing what to do with the new dynamics of distributing content at light speed, to reach all those potential customers around the world.

The industry could reach an even larger number of customers, billions even, if partnering with the right digital media companies, and breaking geographical limitations. Services provided by these digital media companies include Apple iTunes, Amazon MP3 and a new kid in the block, Google Music.

Have you heard of Google? Apparently they reach every corner of the world, and they have a huge content distribution network, with lots of storage, switches, routers and that is needed for content distribution. Economy of scale! Distribution speed! Cheaper copies of bits! Instant money transfer!

And what does the music industry do? They turn greedy and lose their senses.

Labels of all sizes wanted upfront advances. Google was willing to pay upfront advances. But some labels wanted larger upfront advances than others. And then other labels would learn of the advances agreed to in those deals and then demanded similar rates. And the independent labels wanted to be treated on equal terms as the majors.

Obviously if you can create scarcity then you can control prices. But this is a false scarcity of a digital item that could actually be distributed over and over again, without the manufacturing costs required for LP 8 track compact cassete CD/DVD. Why not go for the volume instead of the limited market?

Another example of how this industry doesn't know what to do to keep up with the times. And a new copyright law is not the answer for their problems.

Interview with TelstraClear CEO Dr Allan Freeth

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-May-2011 12:10

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk to TelstraClear CEO Dr Allan Freeth about the company, services, customer services and regulation. Just a week after our meeting, Scoop's Alastair Thompson recorded an interview with Dr Freeth.

Rather than transcribing my own findings, after listening to this series I decided to post it here.

I should also make it clear that we are currently running some TelstraClear advertising on Geekzone (at the time of my post), and I was one of the few people who had access to the 100 Mbps DOCSIS3 trial.
Here are part 1 and part 2 of this interview...

In this segment:

- Introduction to the NZ$2 billion TelstraClear network in New Zealand. The two main elements to this are the HFC coaxial cable networks in Wellington and Christchurch and a fibre backbone network around the whole country.
- Dr Freeth explains how the network came into being, what its capabilities are, and what services are sold over it.
- The interview then turns to discuss the ultrafast "Warpspeed" 100mbs DOCSIS3 technology that now stands behind the TelstraClear cable network, and which is capable of delivering ultra fast broadband to homes in Wellington and Christchurch today.
- Dr Freeth begins by discussing the NZ internet connections to the outside world - Australia and the United States - and what implications capacity constraints on these networks have on pricing and availability in NZ.
- Dr Freeth concludes by explaining why the constraints on overseas connectivity result in low data caps for New Zealand customers - and how in many respects these are more of an issue to customers in NZ than speed at present.

In this segment:

- Dr Freeth explains how issues of network traffic growth are considered by network operators;
- Discussion then turns to the issue of where most content used by residential customers originates - i.e. overseas - and to the policies and practices of the multinationals whose content forms the bulk of traffic over the NZ residential network.
- Dr Freeth says that issues around the delivery of content are ones which need to be worked through by the industy and that there are technical solutions available if the will is there.
- He also addresses the issue of whether regulation might be required over the Southern Cross Cable connection to the outside world.
- The issue of IPTV content is then discussed and Dr Freeth explains the content use patterns of his teenage children which do not significantly involve IPTV in the traditional sense.

In this segment:

- The fact that demand for broadband speed is far from homogeneous - not everyone wants or can use 100mbs speed - and nor are the likely to want to pay for it.
- The complexities of getting houses connected to fast broadband - i.e. the need to not only upgrade the connection but also all the internal equipment in the house including the computers themselves.
- The security (and network stability) risks associated with fast broadband in homes.
- At 6 minutes into the video the discussion moves on to discuss the telecommunications industry alliance against the Government's broadband plans.
- Dr Freeth begins by explaining how the group came together after the Government tabled its legislation to implement its UFB plans.
- Dr Freeth says the primary catalyst for forming the group was the tabling of a Supplementary Order Paper related to structural separation of Telecom. TelstraClear then became the nucleus of an opposition movement around the Government's plans. Dr Freeth observes that the bill as drafted gives Chorus 2 (post Telecom separation) protection from regulation around competition issues for 10 years, as well as immunity from Commerce Commission action around acquisitions - a provision which appears to encourage Chorus 2 becoming a network monopoly.
- At around 11.00 minutes Dr Freeth moves into the detail of how TelstraClear views the details in the Governments UFB legislation.

In this segment:

- He begins by pointing out that a similar regulatory holiday proposal was ruled illegal in Germany;
- The discussion then turns to provisions in the legislation which will result in making ADSL and VDSL (the most common current form of broadband to homes) more expensive.
- This, Dr Freeth explains, is because the whole structure of the legislation is aimed at discriminating against existing networks to encourage high uptake of customers on the new fibre network - which is needed to make it economic for its builders and investors.
- Pricing indications which were recently made public via leaks are then discussed (see. NZ Herald and Internet NZ).
- The pricing wholesale is indicated at NZ$40 per customer for TelstraClear and other retail providers - in practice this will likely means costs of actual connection of closer to NZ$100 per month.
- Dr Freeth is also skeptical about uptake rate assumptions of 60% in the Crown Fibre Holdings plans. If these fall short then pricing is likely to be higher than expected and customers will possibly have no alternatives. "Gravity always works".
- Dr Freeth says that one of the fundamental flaws in the Government's plans is the assumption that fibre to the home is the only technology that should be employed. And that it should be employed everywhere. He points out that 4g wireless - which is already deployed in places- is capable of supplying speeds comparable to those being discussed under the UFB plan.
- In Dr Freeth's view the most likely driver of lower prices for UFB in the NZ market would be a market with multiple technologies competing - instead we are headed for the opposite.
- In addition to this he asks "where is the demand" and suggests that building infrastructure far ahead of the demand curve is costly for consumers and network providers alike.
- Finally in this part he discusses how this situation most likely came about in the negotiations with Telecom. Telecom had already built fibre to every node and was therefore in a very good negotiating position with the Government. Either they should be included in the build, or they would be in a very good position to compete against it by providing VDSL services over the entire country. This would make the fibre build uneconomic.
- Dr Freeth expresses some considerable sympathy with Telecom about how it has been treated in recent years, and comments that if Dr Paul Reynolds pulls off this deal and "reestablishes Telecom's monopoly with Government money and Government protection", then he will take off his hat off to him. "That's one hell of a deal, and I will be very impressed if he can do it"

In this segment:

- This regulation will fragment and breakup the profit pool and stifle innovation in the NZ Market. TelstraClear and Vodafone and other players will move their capital out of the market.
- Dr Freeth explains that Telstra currently spends $100 million a year in capital investment in its network and that it will be hard to justify continuing to do this in the coming regulatory environment.
- He has told Minister Steven Joyce that the plans as they stand will lead to a third world telecommunications environment in NZ.
- He says there are likely unintended consequences in what the Government is doing. Using a Basil Fawlty analogy he says there is a fine line between renovation and destruction, and in this case the Government is bordering on destruction.

Not discussed here was the topic of customer services in general, but this is something we talked about. Dr Freeth recognised there is work to be done in bringing customer services to a higher standard, and that some of his people are currently involved in this.

Is "lost sales to piracy" a fallacy?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-May-2011 09:09

Juha's blog post What "lost sales to piracy"? is right on the spot... How can content distributors claim "lost sales to piracy" if their content is not available in a select market?

I am just highlighting that post because this morning I saw a link to "20 Web Services Not Available in Estonia". Here is the list copied from that blog (in case they disappear in the future). Note any similarity with New Zealand's own?

- iTunes (present in New Zealand iTunes including music and limited number of movie titles, no TV series)
- Android Market (present in New Zealand)
- Windows Phone 7 (present in New Zealand)
- Sony Playstation Store (present in New Zealand)
- Xbox Live Arcade (present in New Zealand)
- Nintendo Wii Store (present in New Zealand)
- Amazon App Store
- Amazon Movies (I've added this to the list)
- Amazon MP3 Store
- Samsung Bada Apps
- Pandora Radio
- Spotify
- Hulu
- Netflix
- Vudu
- Vevo
- Lovefilm
- BBC iPlayer
- ABC Player
- NBC Video

Here is a list of some other content services available in New Zealand (in addition to the ones marked in the list above):

Digirama (music)

TVNZ On Demand (TV shows, free)

Zune Marketplace (movies only, not the music catalogue or Zune Pass service)

It seems we do have access to some content, including music (via iTunes, Digirama), movies (iTunes, Zune Marketplace) and a limited selection of TV series (TVNZ On Demand). From what I've seen though people want more, and mainly in the movies and TV series front.

Instead of our MPs pushing flawed laws that punish consumers that otherwise have limited access to a artificially scarce content, shouldn't they be asking large corporations and lobby groups to work on a solution to their distribution problems before crying foul?

And to our MPs, who wrongly stated in Parliament that "file sharing is illegal", I introduce Vodo to them. Vodo is just one example of a legal content distribution service offering content via bittorrent. Movies on Vodo are made available free to the public by their creators, with appropriate licensing that allows legal free distribution.

There are quite a few web sites distributing content created by independent artists. It doesn't mean "free". It means "independent of large studios holding their contracts". In other words, these artists still make their money when they sell, and they found out that there's a way to reach content consumers everywhere in the world, not only in select geographical markets. Obviously the large corporations can't get the idea that there's a huge market outside their backyard.

I remember there are quite a few independent content distribution sites. Please leave in the comments links to other sites, but only those sites that legally offer content for download.

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Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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