My window to the world

HP Discover 2011: The largest HP conference ever

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2011 15:24

In a few weeks I will be at the HP Discover 2011 in Las Vegas (6th - 10th June), which the company claims is "the largest HP conference in history". Looking forward to spending a few hours selecting which of the 800 sessions I will be attending.

If anyone here is planning to be at this event, please contact me (here or on Twitter).

Thanks to Ivy Worldwide for the logistics, and as full disclosure requires, HP is sponsoring my trip.

YouTube Copyright School

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2011 12:07

The timing is very interesting... Just about the same time the New Zealand Parliament was discussing the New Zealand Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, Google decided to "educate" its users with a You Tube Copyright School video and quiz:

This video is shown to YouTube users who are caught repeatedly uploading copyrighted material. Note this is obviously under U.S. copyright law, but it's quite similar to our own.

New Zealand Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill: another view

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Apr-2011 17:02

Someone not involved in technology looked at some of the comments in various discussions around the approval of New Zealand's Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill and told me "of course these people are complaining. They all benefit from infringing copyright".

And that person seems to be correct.

It is important to note that we should be working together to protect intellectual rights. People who produce work of art need must be rewarded by their creativity.

Is there disagreement on how large corporations do this? Yes. But that's not what should be debated here.

The law sets a precedent in which a copyright owner can provide a notice of infringement and by default that will be accepted as correct, truthfull and evidence of wrong doing.

This is the opposite of what we accept as due process where there's an accusation, evidence is supplied and a guilty verdict is imposed.

The law assume the accused is guilty.

This is against the due process as we know it.

I don't really have any interest to know that the program you like most on TV is not available from TV One, therefore it's your $deity given right to download it from the Internet, regardless of source, respect for the author's claims for compensation and so on.

This is the wrong approach and people will get nowhere with it. Time to get smart people. Time to show new directions to the industry. Time to join these organisations and led them in the right direction.

The technology is disruptive and they don't know how to use it, yet. Actually they know, they just haven't extended it outside some artificially small niche markets.

Clare Curran MP comments on passing the New Zealand Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Apr-2011 15:00

Today Clare Curran MP for the Labour Party wrote in the party's blog Red Alert "No New Zealander can be disconnected from the internet".

Interesting read, but I will reproduce something here for documentation only, just in case one day we can't find that specific page anymore:

There's been an intense reaction to the Bill in social media. I acknowledge, understand and am sympathetic to many of the criticisms and concerns raised by people who are deeply discomforted by having a termination provision in the law even if it is on ice.

The government's bottom line was to have termination in the Bill. Ours was to not support it. The compromise position was to leave it in but require the Minister to put what's called an Order In Council into effect to switch it on. This is very unlikely to happen.

The onus is now on the creative industries to prove there is a case to terminate access and that the notice system is not working. Rather than oppose it outright, we preferred to compromise to ensure New Zealanders are not denied access to the internet.

Account suspension remains in the bill and could theoretically be used in the future, but any Minister who implements termination will have to wear the consequences. It won't be a Labour Minister.

Even more interesting is that at last a politician spells it out clearly and have seen the light:

Evidence before the select committee strongly indicated that sales of music and movies on the internet were going up, not down, and that the industry remains viable and strong, if needing to change the way it distributes material.

Also interesting to see this paragraph:

The fundamental issue here is why so many people illegal downloading and sharing material. This law will hopefulyl have the impact of educating more people who are illegally filesharing and don't understand it is illegal. I would hope that New Zealanders do not condone illegal filesharing.

Why are so many people illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted material? Because the industry is lost and can't come up with new, legal ways of distributing content fast enough. I'm sure if New Zealanders had access to content without the virtual barriers imposed by copyright merchants more would be willing to buy than to copy.

How come users in other countries have access to a larger number of titles through online stores such as Amazon, Apple iTunes, Microsoft Zune and others? Why is that users in other countries have the option to stream content directly to their PCs and multimedia centers through services such as Netflix and Hulu? The answer is commercial interests that create a virtual regional lock on content that want to be free to flow from creators to consumers. Free as in freedom, not free as in gratis.

Those are the same commercial interests that will benefit directly of a law passed by our Parliament, that seemed to have worked against us instead of working with us, by rushing the reading of a copyright bill during a session discussing earthquake-related topics. in the middle of the night.

Gareth Hughes MP on Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Apr-2011 23:44

It looks like Gareth Hughes MP scored some points tonight...

Is this copyright infringement or not?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Apr-2011 23:12

This is what Melissa Lee, National List MP sent out on her Twitter account, just a day before her comments during the parliamentary session discussing the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill:

"Ok. Shower... Reading ... And then bed! listening to a compilation a friend did for me of K Pop. Fab. Thanks Jay."

This just show that the concept of copyright is not well understood around. This is important, because the bill assumes an infringement notice is correct, and the accused is guilty by default. And if not even the MPs can clearly understand what is infringement and avoid it, how could we trust organisations with money interests to act in a truthful way after such a bill passes?

(1) In proceedings before the Tribunal, in relation to an infringement notice, it is presumed:
(a) that each incidence of file sharing identified in the notice constituted an infringement of the right owner's copyright in the work identified;
(b) that the information recorded in the infringement notice is correct;
(c) that the infringement notice was issued in accordance with this Act.
(2) An account holder may submit evidence that, or give reasons why, any 1 or more of the presumptions in subsection (1) do not apply with respect to any particular infringement identified in an infringement notice.
(3) If an account holder submits evidence or gives reasons as referred to in subsection (2), the rights owner must satisfy the Tribunal that, in relation to the relevant infringement or notice, the particular presumption or presumptions are correct.

UPDATE: in a later tweet we read "lol. Does it count if the friend is the composer?"

Good question. It would also be interesting to know if those files were transferred over the Internet, or were moved from one storage device to another directly. Did said friend provide evidence of transferring ownership rights?

UPDATE: As noted by some readers, even if the composer is a friend, there are copyright in place for other pieces of the work  such as performer, publisher, etc.

UPDATE: Melissa Lee told the New Zealand Herald all songs on the compilation had been legally downloaded and paid for. But the copyright law allows format shift only for members of the same household. Does her friend live with her? If not, did her friend received permission to distribute copies of this content?

New Zealand Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill: J'accuse

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Apr-2011 22:24

The New Zealand Parliament today rushed the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill through an urgent session that was intended to discuss Christchurch-related quake legislation.

Talk about low blow. Using urgent sessions to rush a legislation that will make allegation effective proof of wrong doing. Just read the new version of this bill:

122MA Infringement notice as evidence of copyright infringement
(1) In proceedings before the Tribunal, in relation to an infringement notice, it is presumed:
(a) that each incidence of file sharing identified in the notice constituted an infringement of the right owner's copyright in the work identified;
(b) that the information recorded in the infringement notice is correct;
(c) that the infringement notice was issued in accordance with this Act.
(2) An account holder may submit evidence that, or give reasons why, any 1 or more of the presumptions in subsection (1) do not apply with respect to any particular infringement identified in an infringement notice.
(3) If an account holder submits evidence or gives reasons as referred to in subsection (2), the rights owner must satisfy the Tribunal that, in relation to the relevant infringement or notice, the particular presumption or presumptions are correct.

From the very start whoever is being accused of infringing copyright is automatically guilty. It's up to the accused to provide evidence that this is not the case. The "rights owner" doesn't have to have prove anything to start with. It's enough to accuse someone.

Previously, S92A caused the New Zealand Internet Blackout, with the government then postponing the enactment of that law. This new version is even worse.

We are not talking about the right or wrong of copyright. But watching the Parliament TV stream is clear that our noble MPs have no idea of what file sharing is, how it relates to copyright infringement, and what exactly is being protected. It is also interesting to note the links some MPs, mainly from the Green Party, make between this piece of legislation and free trade agreement negotiations.

Some more information on Tech Liberty blog, NBR's "Internet file sharing bill under urgency today", Rick Shera's blog. Also a discussion on this is going on Geekzone.

As for J'accuse in the title, it is a reference to an open letter written by Emile Zola, published in 13 January 1898. The letter accused the French government of anti-semitism and unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, sentenced for espionage. Emile Zola pointed out judicial errors and lack of serious evidence in the process.

Google +1 and advertising: how is Google using your information (and why the rogue apostrophes)?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Mar-2011 14:31

Every analyst in the tech industry seem to be talking about Google +1, Google's new feature that allows users to share search results in their profiles.

If you don't have it in your search results you can enable it now by creating a Google Profile, then going to the Google Experimental web page and adding +1 to the list of experimental features. Obviously Google +1 will only appear on result pages when you are logged in to a Google account.

What I've not seen discussed yet is how your Google +1 listings can be used for advertising. The only two references to this I could find was when I tried my first +1 my first link:

Note the checkbox next to "Use my information to personalize content and ads across the web." (the bold is mine).

Hmmm. So I can stop personalizing content but this will also stop personalizing ads. But what is "personalize content" anyway? It seems, reading the Google +1 Privacy Policy that Google intends to allow third party web sites to suggest links based in your profile. Which is ok, but why this feature and ad personalisation are bundled together?

I've just found an image showing what happens when you "+1" an advert (why would one do that?), thanks to Search Engine Land:

Also, why is Google using "greengrocers apostrophe's"to indicate +1 plurals, as in +1's everywhere?

What is this Google +1 good for? There's some more information in the Google +1 Button page, saying "In order to +1 things, you first need a public Google profile. This helps people see who recommended that tasty recipe or great campsite. When you create a profile, it's visible to anyone and connections with your email address can easily find it."

If I recall correctly people don't visit Google Profile pages like they visit Facebook.

Google Social Results are powered by all your social network connections, as defined in your Google Profile, but only your Google-based connections are currently used when matching +1 recommendations to Google Search results.

You also get a Page Not Found if you try to follow the "personalization on sites across the web" like present in that page. It seems Google released something that will be up there with Google Buzz...

Telecom and Vodafone discontinue services to Funmobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Feb-2011 11:34

I found out today that both Telecom New Zealand (1) and Vodafone New Zealand (2) have discontinued their services to Funmobile, a company that provides customers with "entertainment" Premium SMS services.

Premium SMS services are those short codes used to either subscribe to a service, enter a competition, provide feedback, etc.

Funmobile is just one of the services offering "entertainment" over SMS. In theory the interested users visit a website, enters their mobile number, and receives a SMS asking for a reply to confirm the subscription. If you want to stop receiving these Premium SMS you can reply "STOP" to their number.

The "entertainment" can be anything really, such as mobile ringtones, horoscopes, etc. They are recurring, sometimes multiple SMS a week, with prices varying from a few cents each, up to a few dollars. This sure drains some people's account very quickly.

On account customers can see where their money is going to, but prepay customers don't have a bill with detailed description of charges, so most of the times they only see their balance going away every week...

Some people should know better, read the small fineprint, etc.

But then there are those who got involved without knowing, or understanding what was going on. For example people who authorised third party Facebook applications to access their profile when participating of a promotion, or people who got caught by scammers running sites that pretend to be YouTube offering a competition.

I heard some cases of people who bought brand new prepaid SIM cards, and their numbers were already subscribed to these services. Obviously the previous owner got sick of the charges, got a new number, and let the old one lapse. The operators just put the recycled number back in the pool and someone got unlucky.

Regardless, it's something for years people have been posting on Geekzone. While it's all well and legal for mobile operators to put the blame on customers (who should know better), things happen. We know some people won't read the fineprint. And that's where these "entertainment services" make their money. And it's not moral.

I posted about this back in August 2009, asking operators to stop doing business with this companies. It took only a year and half, but now they have done the right thing.

Good job. The mobile operators provide a good service in New Zealand, but they should go beyond the technical side of things, and make sure their infrastructure is not used to take money out of their customers' accounts.Here are some posts about this scam:

Text Message Scam

Rogue SMS Subscription Services and Vodafone

YouTube ripped me off

Another server, another 9,000 credit card numbers in the wild

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Feb-2011 09:19

From story on Stuff, Lush has its server compromised...

As many as 9000 New Zealanders may have had their credit card and personal details stolen after the Lush cosmetics website was hacked.

The company has urged its online customers in New Zealand and Australia to contact their banks to discuss cancelling their credit cards.

The article makes it sound like they stored credit card details in the same DB or same server.  Not clear if that's the case, but that would be a big lack of security.

As well as credit card details, the database contained customers' names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.

Sure, everything a scammer needs, in a single place.

Lush was contacting customers by email to inform them of the hacking and was not aware of any whose cards had been used fraudulently.

Of course they are not aware. Unless they monitor the underworld, credit card transactions on the other side of the world, and other things. They would only know if a customer complained, and customers wouldn't know how they information leaked, until now.

Its British website was hacked last month and some customers there reported their cards had been fraudulently used.
Mr Lincoln said he did not know whether the hackers were specifically targeting Lush or the type of software it was using."

It happened before to another server on the same company, but nothing was changed in that month?

It sounds like the Hell Pizza episode, when their site was accessed here in New Zealand, but the Australian one, based on the same application, was still running... Back then it took the company months before admitting to the breach. Lucky it was just email addresses, not credit card. But people receiving the spam weren't happy.

freitasm's profile

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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