Posts under Tag: internet
Google Sends Internet to the Skies with Project Loon

Google being the awesomely incredible company that it is, it has been home to some incredible projects and products from gmail to google voice. With google glass breaking new ground in what it means to be connected to each other and self driving cars on the horizon, google is doing big things. Of course google glass and self driving cars are among the bleeding edge of the coolest possibilities of tech, all projects of the cutting edge research arm of google – aptly named google X. The sole mission of the people at google X is to test the limits crazy ideas and new technologies. In one of its latest wild projects, google X is looking to send the internet to the skies using hot air balloons in project Loon. Project Loon got its name because the google X team thought the idea was beyond loony. Project Loon’s goal is to provide internet access to extremely rural areas using volleyball shaped antenna rigs to communicate with solar powered internet hubs connected to hot air balloons 60,000 feet above sea level. Leave it to google to come up with something that awesome :-) Google just officially unveiled project Loon in Christchurch New Zealand, one of the quietest and most remote corners of the globe. It took project Loon a few years to get the official X project stamp of approval, but it is well on its way to being the answer in getting the rest of the world connected to the web. Here is a short video showing a test flight with a balloon hub.

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Online… Offline… what’s the difference?

Torrent Freak had an article over the weekend that helps to highlight the insanity that is the current state of IP law enforcement. They bring up the excellent point that law should not arbitrarily cease simply because it becomes easier and cheaper to infringe upon your rights.

“When I write a letter to somebody, I and I alone choose whether I identify myself in the letter inside the envelope, on the outside of the envelope, both, or neither. It is my prerogative completely whether I choose to communicate anonymously or not. This is a right we have in analog communications and in law; it is perfectly reasonable to demand that the law applies online as well.”

The author is correct of course. Why should our rights end simply because where real world infringement of our rights could be costly and time consuming computer based right infringement can often be done cheaply and quickly. In fact it is worse with online infringement as it can easily be harder to detect. If one wanted they could easily push the argument further to bandwidth throttling on a port by port basis. If I wanted to send mail I can send letters and packages of all sorts of sizes. Increasingly we’re seeing ISPs throttling certain ports and claiming that this is their right to do so. If you have an account that grants you a certain bit rate should you not be the one to choose how to use that bandwidth?

While the USPS may be having financial difficulties directly due to online communications it is still the gold standard in terms of privacy rights for communications. We would all be well advised to not let the rights we have online be stripped away. The right to privacy is one that many people have fought and died to protect and to simply let it fade away would be a disservice to everyone that has ever struggled to make it a reality.

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Bandwidth Throttling The Solution To Piracy?

Will throttling internet user’s data help stop piracy? According to Daniel Castro’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, it could be part of the solution to stopping online piracy. As part of his testimony he referred to a 2009 study by The Institute for Policy Innovation that states “U.S. recording industry and related industries lost over $3.5 billion to online piracy”. This study like many others makes the flawed assumption that each pirated song is a lost sale. Obviously this is not and never will be the case. Fundamentally when people spend their hard earned money on music they want to show their support to the artist to allow them to continue to create music, and despite what recording industry groups want you to believe artists are making more then ever before. The Movie industry in 2010 had it’s highest revenue dollar amount ever. How can this possibly be? Does it not fly in the face of logic?

The problem that paid content has both in the US and around the globe is not one of piracy but of a failing business model. The current pricing structures in place for both movies and music are based on a single universal price and limited physical media. If one was to buy a $15 movie in the US and a $15 movie in Russia it’s the same $15 amount correct? Not quite according to a report by the Social Science Research Council. That $15 in Russia is a much larger piece of their income and would be the equivalent of a $75 movie in the US. Many corporations are not interested in bringing  content to an affordable price for potential international customers. Instead, they’re simply trying to protect their premium clients, those in countries with the per capita income of being able to pay these inflated rates.

The solution to the “problem” of piracy is to cease seeing that as the problem and instead focus on the real issues, that of the failing business model and a re-evaluation of intellectual property law. Part of Article 1 Section 8 of the US constitution states “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”. Limited times. The Copyright Act of 1790 was for 14 years, with option to renew for another 14 years and applied to maps, charts and books. However back then Corporations were not seen as persons under the law; now that they are these “persons” have no natural lifespan to end. So now those of us that live in the United States are left with legal entities that keep ideas under lock and key ad infinitum. This was not the intent nor letter of the law. We have let corporations become people, and people that live forever at that. We need to let these ideas have a limited time frame for the creator to have a monopoly on, we need to cease seeing corporations as persons under the law, and we need the RIAA and MPAA to take a better look at the finance sheets and figure out that they’re still making money hand over foot.

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You Win Some You Lose Some

TorrentFreak is reporting that our favorite Netherlands anti-piracy group, BREIN, is forcing the shutdown of numerous Usenet and NZB sites. This list includes:,,,,,, and They of course managed to get some leverage with the court win over FTD (all this despite the fact that only 13 of the more then 1/2 million FTD users reported and uploaded infringing content, and even then who’s to say these anonymous persons didn’t actually work for BREIN). According to lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet

“BREIN is using the FTD verdict to threaten other sites into closing. Even though the verdict clearly said downloading is legal and ‘facilitating’ downloading is legal as well, BREIN is now saying that sites that provide NZB files are facilitating illegal downloading.”

It seems to me that BREIN is overstepping its bounds, something it is quite fond of doing. In an separate article TorrentFreak is reporting that BREIN has gone ahead and taken down the site known as Swan. Interestingly, neither the recent FTD ruling nor any other recent event has given them the legal authority to do so and the fine people that run Swan not only managed to seize back their servers but are also looking at suing BREIN. It’s about time someone hit them back. While there is certainly a debatable to be had over intellectual property a few things are painfully clear:

  1. Current intellectual property laws do not work in an environment where a single work can appear in multiple formats all of which can easily be shared across the globe in any number of ways.
  2. Being a rights holder or representative of the rights holders does not give you a free pass to do whatever you want wherever you want.
  3. Rights holders need to re-evaluate their monitization of the work product and investigate alternate means of making money.
  4. You can make money on free and can compete against free.

Perhaps it’s time the companies that supposedly represent the result these creative industries themselves get creative.

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Canada gets a reprieve on metered internet.

Canada’s Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) very nearly killed the interweb for Canadian consumers. They originally had ruled that independent ISPs that rent bandwidth from the big boys in the field (Rodgers, Bell Canada, etc.) would now have to follow the pricing structures of the company they rent that bandwidth from. This would have brought monthly caps from approximately 200 GB to 25 GB. Now those with accounts at the big networks are already on these metered accounts but the little ISPs at least gave the Canadian consumers some amount of choice. The original ruling would have caused significant harm to high bandwidth services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon. There are plenty of services out there that spend the proper $ to upkeep their pipes ( and just upped their retention to 860+ days for example) and I don’t know why the Canadian Bells can’t keep their networks substantial enough to feed video to their users.

While the CRTC ruling is currently delayed and not overturned the Industry Minister Tony Clement has said that if they don’t change it he will. This of course is a good thing as the ruling was decidedly anti-consumer. As the way we consume media changes consumers are able to access more and more options on how they want their media delivered to them. This seems to be leading into a familiar clash of content creator and content provider. Services like Netflix and Hulu are offering consumers a way out of the standard cable TV distribution method and this fact terrifies the cable companies, and for a good reason. They’re seeing their subscriptions fall for the first time in… well first time ever. So they’re doing everything they can to maintain the near monopolies that they enjoy. The recent Comcast NBCUniversal buyout is an example of that. A distribution company buying a content company. This gives them a distinct advantage over not only other media companies but over consumers. If forced metered internet had been or becomes successful in Canada it won’t be long till companies in the US begin doing the exact same thing to bring viewership away from alternative options back to their standard cable networks. Once that happens cable subscribers in the US will be trapped in a world of escalating fees. As for me all of this just seems exhausting so I’m going to watch something on Netflix instant… while I still can.

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