Pirate Bay

Only one real story in tech today – Pirate Bay founders have been found guilty in their court case, jailed for a year each and ordered to pay around £1 million each. Ouch. It’s a headline grabbing verdict but only the first decision in what will will probably be a long and drawn out trial.

For me it’s a symbolic victory over The Pirate Bay four rather than anything meaningful. The site won’t shut down unlike Oink which was shut down and the owner and some members charged in the UK. As of yet no one has done any jail time following the Oink arrests although some of the uploaders did receive a community service sentence and had to pay back court fee’s. The site admin of Oink has still to be tried.

The biggest thing for the music and film industry bodies will be the hope that this will dissuade joe public from using torrent sites as it has ‘been proven’ to be illegal and you can be prosecuted. From what I can read today however the win does not mean the closing of the site or indeed will ever lead to the site being shut down. Pirate Bay have always been pretty open about what the do and also confident that their site cannot, and will not be shut down. Indeed, the charges that were finally proven were those of assisting in making copyright content available. Originally they were being tried of assisting copyright infringement. Very different and lesser charges.

But what does assisting in making copyright content available actually mean? Where does the assistance stop? Are ISP’s assisting by providing bandwidth to those that upload and download torrents? Is Google assisting by providing torrent’s in it’s index? If so that means every search engine provider is – that’s some very big names. The Pirate Bay is a search engine with results returned of links to files held elsewhere. Is there a difference especially when I can find the same torrents on Google as I can on Pirate Bay?

One impact will be not immediately, but over the next few months, we’ll see a shrinking of torrent sites. Some of the smaller sites will be shut down with ease. The ruling will have repercussions for those that aren’t set up as well as Pirate Bay or the other well known sites. I also think there will be an increase in usage at the Bay. Being THE headline on BBC News will bring the site to the attention of a lot more people. People that will be curious. Curious to see what’s there. Curious enough to visit the site. Curious enough to click on a torrent link for the first time.

One final thought. Would we be using iPlayer, Hulu, Skype, Spotify and many other services if Kazza or bittorrent sites hadn’t been so popular over the last few years? Most of these are in response or based on file sharing technology. One other final thought. Would we be seeing broadband speeds of 50-100Mb now if it wasn’t for torrenting? Would we need those speeds? Last final thought. Thank goodness for newsgroups. For now.

Giveth with one...taketh with the other

More Virgin Media news and this time you really do wonder what’s going on! The one that grabs most headlines is that they are to pilot a scheme working with the BPI to send letters to users downloading music illegally via P2P. The pilot is not up and running but according to the Telegraph is starting soon. In some ways it’s no big surprise as there’s been lot’s of talk about a proposed three strikes and your out system. Indeed some ISP’s have already sent letters to users warning them about the content or bandwidth they are using. As long as there are no false positives and the action they are taking is clear, transparent and applied to all users can anyone really complain? Not really, although I’m still surprised that they will act in cases of ‘suspected’ piracy. I would damn well hope they act when they have concrete evidence and it’s not just a way of targeting heavy downloaders and their Linux iso’s.

What makes this all a bit more odd is that Virgin Media are beta testing a new Usenet service. In conjuntion with Highwinds they are looking to improve their newsgroup offering. What are newsgroups – well according to Virgin they are:

…discussion forums (usually on a specific topic) but can also be used to download and upload files such as photos and videos.

No shit Sherlock. Their binary retention will be at least 7 days and text retention over 90 days. Not bad for a free service although nothing like the service you get from providers like Giganews. Notice also that newsgroups are great for photo’s and videos. No music to be found though. Or applications, games, books etc. Just photo’s and video’s.

This doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. What happens with one provider will eventually happen to all. What I want is a reliable fast connection at a reasonable price. On reflection this isn’t what Virgin are offering although I must admit to it being prety bullet proof compared to ADSL. Time to switch?

Three Strikes

The Times this morning is leading with a story that the UK Government is to propose banning UK net users who download illegal material. It looks like under the scheme the ISP will be responsible for identifying and banning users using a three strikes and your out principal. Caught once and you get a warning. Caught a second time and your temporarily banned. Caught a third time and your banned by that service provider. What the article doesn’t discuss is whether the ban would apply to all service providers or whether your banning would be passed among other ISP’s.

This is a pretty tough stance and at the moment I don’t know what to think of it. How will the ISP’s identify users? What about falsely accusing a user? Will there be a way of appealing a ban? Will we create a large number of users who won’t be able to use broadband in the UK due to bans? How much information is currently being tracked and how much is readily available to government now? Will media companies make content available at more reasonable prices i.e. at least the same as US is paying? Will the hardcore pirates always be one step ahead of ISP’s so making the system redundant apart from stopping the casual downloaders?

If this does become law and the system is reliable (big if’s at the moment for me) then there’s at least one positive. Broadband speeds will be a lot more reliable and the high end speeds will be dropped by a high percentage of users. Still can’t see this becoming law, or at least one that’s reliably enforceable any time soon.

Bizarre

Totally agree with John Gruber that not releasing the GM of Leopard to dev’s is a really bad decision from Apple. Already there are app’s not quite working with Leopard which will only be fixed after the release of the new OS, not before. The decision not to seed GM didn’t stop piracy either as the leechers have been able to download it since Tuesday.

How to beat DVD pirates

Offer DVDs for $1.50….that 84p according to Google. Mad?

Well in China Warner are offering The Aviator for the exact price mentioned above. So the packaging is cheap and nasty and there’s probably no extras but would anyone go to the bother of pirating a DVD if it could be bought so cheaply? Not me.

Makes you wonder how much profit they make in the UK when it can be sold so cheaply elsewhere. Maybe it’s time for everyone to pirate and boycott official DVD purchases to see what impact it has elsewhere around the globe.

Pro Evo 4

I have it. It plays wonderfully. And yes – that’s far too gushing for what is a mere game, but there you have it. Oh…and I have it for the ps2 even though I swore I would wait for the Xbox version.

What did it for me was a visit to Graham’s. He had picked up a Slide Tool and was playing Winning Eleven Soccer 8. It was superb. Graphically a step up from Pro Evo 3 and with much better gameplay. To top it all it had been patched with English menu’s and custom music and graphics – absolute class (and if anyone is interested it was the Ole mix of Winning Eleven 8 – check out Evoweb for more info.) So I ordered a slide tool, got the Ole mix and waited patiently for Mr Postman to deliver. Then I saw a Pro Evo 4 torrent.

2 days later (1 seed for the torrent and 2000 people downloading) and I’ve been playing pro evo for the last couple of hours. Some notable improvements:

  • Player animations are increased and more life like. Players themselves look a lot more realistic
  • Improved AI – the off the ball movement of other players opens up the game. Console games are also a lot tougher than previous versions. If you are winning you can see a noticeable step up by the opposition – they really hustle you for the ball.
  • Free kicks harder (maybe just different rather than harder)
  • Speed – its fast. Really fast.
  • Referee giving you a warning and not a booking 🙂
  • Referee is now visible during play
  • Proper use of the advantage rule. If you don’t gain an advantage from it the whistle is blown and you get a free kick.
  • No slowdown at corner kicks (unlike Winning Eleven)
  • A better attempt at real player names. Team names still mince though – Old Firm Blue vs Old Firm Green? Still, there will be an option file soon enough to sort that, or you could import a PES 3 one while you wait.

There’s probably more to add to this, but you get the drift. All it needs is online support (Xbox this November) and a wide-screen option (hopefully Xbox this November…but I have my doubts).

*Update* – there is some slowdown with certain stadiums. The old ps2 just isn’t up to it. Select 50Hz at the start of the game and you should have no problems at all.

Music Sales Are Up

Missed this over the last week. Album sales are up on last year as seen in this article from the Guardian. Also worth mentioning is this article which mentions that 87% of people who download music tracks are likely to buy the album on CD. Both of these are in contrary to the perception from the music industry that the internet is destroying its business.

For years people have copied music. In days of old tape decks were used to copy music and more recently cd-writers. But now if I buy a cd chances are I can’t copy the music to my Ipod and I can’t copy the album as mp3’s to my car mp3/cd player. Some of the albums don’t even play in the car. This forces me into downloading the tracks from the net so that I can listen to them on all my devices. Farce. Its time for the law not to side with the minority in the music industry but the majority which is the buying public – if I buy music I should be able to use on any device I own.