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France was one of the first countries to impose laws that require ISPs terminate the service of users who repeatedly engage in copyright infringement. Under the rules, copyright offenders were tracked by a newly-created taxpayer-funded agency dubbed Hadopi and a hired company named Trident Media Guard (TMG). Hadopi then works with ISPs to obtain personal information and send out warning letters or kick people off the Internet. The program hasn't really slowed piracy, and the collected data was the target of a hack attack
Hadopi was supported by ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, but new French President Francois Hollande made it a campaign promise to eliminate the three strikes program. As part of that promise Hollande assigned an ex-entertainment industry executive named Pierre Lescure to study Hadopi. The results of that study are out, and while it suggests three strikes be killed off
, several bad ideas will remain, including user fines and a piracy tax on smartphones and tablets:
Hadopi the agency would be done away with, but another agency would pick up some of the responsibilities, it's just that they'd greatly decrease the "punishment" aspect. Rather than losing internet access and having to pay up to 1,500, you'd keep your access and fines would be topped at 60. But, on top of that, there are other policies that Lescure suggests that seem pretty bad as well, including extending the copyright levy (the "you must be a criminal tax") to cover smartphones, tablets and any other connected device.
There's of course nothing requiring the government enact any of the reports recommendations. However, it's very clear that three strikes' shelf life appears to be limited -- as is the entertainment industry's long push to have repeat copyright offenders kicked off of the Internet.
DirecTV is contemplating embedding an antenna into their set top boxes
in order to offer live over the air broadcasts, thereby circumventing retransmission fees. Speaking at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston, DirecTV chief financial officer Patrick Doyle stated they didn't have a timeline on the project, but that it makes financial sense due to the soaring price of retrans fees and the landscape shift that's occurring courtesy of Aereo. He also stated that whenever it does get deployed, it would only be initially made available to new customers. "Well probably test in some markets an over-the-air integrated tuner set-up and make sure the customer experience is there," insists Doyle.
For much of the last year, Verizon Wireless has been blocking Google Wallet
, claiming that its use of a device's "secure element" is what has prohibited them from letting consumers use the app. Numerous people have explained in great detail (including the lawyer that filed the original complaint with the FCC
) that this excuse is simply being used to keep Google Wallet permanently stuck in approval purgatory, while the wireless industry's own, competing Isis
platform sees no such restrictions.
Canipre is a Canadian company that helps runs anti-piracy campaigns, and is helping Voltage Pictures in their efforts to extort money out of pirates using settlement-o-matic mass lawsuits. They've most recently been helping Voltage target easier marks like Canadian ISP TekSavvy
. As such, it's interesting to note that this week a company so concerned about propriety has been accused of using other people's photos on their website without proper attribution
. "Our collective goal is not to sue everybody...but to change the sense of entitlement that people have, regarding Internet-based theft of property," Canipre Director Barry Logan stated in a recent interview.
As we've noted previously
, Obama and intelligence/law enforcement agencies are working on a new domestic surveillance expansion plan that would fine ISPs and companies who don't cooperate with wiretap requests. The FBI and DOJ have spent the last year or so whining about the fact that despite all their immense (and often legally dubious) wiretapping powers, they're having a hard time accessing encrypted services.
ISPs including AT&T, Cox, Bright House and Verizon have filed an appeal
in their ongoing battle against porn copyright troll AF Holdings. AF Holdings has accused 1,058 broadband users of illegally sharing adult movies on BitTorrent, and last year won their initial legal attempt to force the ISPs to hand over the identities behind those IP addresses.
According to the New York Times
, ABC is preparing to let New York City and Philadelphia users stream local broadcast channels live via smartphones and tablets -- if they have a traditional cable connection. "We keep a very close eye on consumer demand," a Disney-ABC Television Group executive tells the paper. "We watch how people are behaving with their devices, and we really felt that we needed to move faster." The company's "live" button is a clear response to pressure from streaming OTA upstart Aereo, though it rather impressively takes the Times
until the twelfth paragraph to mention this. ABC and other broadcasters are suing to stop Aereo
for copyright violations, while threatening to yank their broadcast channels off the air if they lose their legal fight.
As had been predicted for some time, Google this week announced
their new subscription a la carte video "channels." Under the new pilot program, users can pay anywhere from $1 to $6 a month for individual channels, providing many of these content creators an additional revenue stream to (presumably) fund raising the bar on some of YouTube's inexplicably popular dreck
So far there's about 53 channels for users to choose from, all viewable here
Early last year we noted that AT&T, the company that really started the network neutrality debate to begin with
, had come up with yet another awful new idea: charging app makers a fee if they wanted to send data to consumers without impacting their usage caps. While AT&T presented the idea as akin to a 1-800 number for data or "free shipping," what it actually is a troll toll imposed by AT&T allowing them to rake in new cash -- and impose their power on a content ecosystem and app marketplace that operates better with companies like AT&T out of the way.
According to the Globe and Mail
, Canadian incumbent Rogers is the latest ISP to try and battle Netflix by copying Netflix. The ISP is cooking up their own Netflix clone and is even considering creating their own original content, something that Amazon, Hulu and Netflix have all been exploring to lessen content licensing fees.
BitTorrent has been absurdly sensitive about how people might confuse the protocol Cohen created and the business he's trying to create, with the fact that it has been used for years for piracy. Yesterday I noted how the company won't even let BitTorrent proxy and VPN services like TorGuard
advertise within the BitTorrent client, fearing it might be seen as supporting piracy.
As I've been discussing
, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are making a strong new push to mandate backdoors in e-mail, cloud storage services, social networking websites and other encrypted services to make real-time wiretapping easier. As part of this effort to overhaul CALEA, the DOJ has even gone so far as to propose that ISPs be fined for failure to comply
Back when the FCC's broadband plan came out in 2010 I noted that it had serious shortcomings
-- particularly when it came to seriously acknowledging this sector's biggest problem: high prices and bad behavior due to limited competition. A recent TechNet study subsequently found that while the plan focused primarily on "broadband adoption," we haven't seen much of an improvement on that front.
Google has been fairly tight lipped when it comes to hard take up numbers for their Google Fiber services, but a report this week by Bernstein Research
indicates that around a third of the homes that can currently get Google Fiber are doing so. According to the survey, around ten to fifteen percent of those in Google Fiber's footprint take the "free" service, which delivers 5 Mbps speeds for no monthly charge after users pay a $300 installation fee.
CBS recently proclaimed on Twitter
they'd be taking their legal fight against Aereo to a new level with another lawsuit in Boston, but it appears that Aereo has taken pre-emptive action to prevent that from happening. Aereo has filed a complaint in New York today looking for a declaratory ruling that states the broadcast industry can't open new fronts in their legal assault against the streaming upstart.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode