Monday, January 31, 2005

Norwegian student liable for sharing music

A Norwegian student has been found guilty of copyright infringement and has been told that he has to pay the music industry the equivalent of £8,000 for hosting a site called As its counterpart in the United States, the problem is that this site had links to actual infringing material, other users could give links to its music, and they could download it.

Friday, January 28, 2005

RIAA sues 717 new P2P users

The RIAA continues its strategy of suing P2P users by initiating lawsuits against 717 users of the Kazaa, eDonkey and Limeware P2P networks. Will this strategy work? I will conduct a survey of users tonight and get back to you tomorrow with a report of numbers of people sharing.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New P2P technology available!

eXeem is a new P2P application that was created in the wake of the shutting down of the SuprNova bitorrent website. This new technology marries the speed and capabilities of Bitorrent with the relative anonymity and decentralization of P2P.

However, eXeem is said to come with spyware, so a new and lite version of the software has been created, eXeem Lite. Could this be the perfect downloading application at last? Technollama will download and install it, all in the name of accurate reporting and for strict educational purposes.

More on the McAfee patent.

Yesterday we brought you news about the devilish new McAfee patent. PantentNews has pointed out that the patent also claims to trace IP and then "displaying a world map with an illustration of the trace thereon utilizing the firewall."

Wait a second, that is just a graphical traceroute, is it not? Well, yes it is! And guess what? It predates 2002 as well. I even have a Linux application that does the same thing!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

McAfee obtains firewall patent

Slashdot reports that anti-virus developer Mcafee has been granted U.S. Patent 6,839,852 for monitoring network traffic with a firewall. The patent is for:

A system, method and computer program product are provided for tracing a traffic event utilizing a firewall. Initially, a firewall is executed on a local computer. Next, traffic events between the local computer and a remote computer over a network are monitored utilizing the firewall. Further, the traffic events are displayed utilizing the firewall. In use, at least one of the traffic events is traced utilizing the firewall. Moreover, a map of the trace is displayed for effectively conveying information about the traffic event.
The patent was filed on February 8, 2002. 2002?! How can McAfee claim no prior art exists when there is a very concise FAQ on firewalls written in 2001?

And they wonder why we oppose software patents?

Sun offers patents for open source developers

In a similar move to IBM's much talked about patent handout for OSS developers, Sun Systems are offering more than 1,600 patents that they own for open source developers in Solaris projects. Although many will complain that this is another PR exercise, it must be said that there seems to be a growing understanding from OSS friendly enterprises that the open source model needs some software patents to support the model if the patent wars break out.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Patents shoot, Poland saves (again)!

Poland has saved Europe once more from the proposed software patent directive. The item was to be viewed as an A-item in the Agriculture and Fisheries agenda, but Poland has once more opposed its inclusion there. The official Polish statement reads:

"In regard to the news about the possible inclusion of the item concerning the Directive on the Patentability Computer-Implemented Inventions in the agenda of the meeting of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries on the 24th of January, 2005, the European Committee of the Council of Ministers noted on the meeting on the 21st of January that the work on the final position of Poland on the issue has not yet been completed. On account of that, the European Committee has decided that the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the European Union will make a request to the Presidency not to include that item in the Agenda of the EU Council Meeting. If the Luxembourg Presidency includes the draft of the aforementioned directive in the agenda, Poland will request its withdrawal and postponement until the end of the necessary analyses being conducted by Poland."
What new devilry will the guys at the Commission device next? I would venture that a Balrog may be brought next to push the proposal forward.

Firefox increasing market share

Firefox is increasing its market share in detriment of Internet Explorer, an increase that has been fueled by security fears in Microsoft products. Firefox is said to have taken 5% of the market, as opposed to a 1% during Mozilla times. I can say that I have noticed that Firefox share in sites that I administer is up to 15-20%, but that may have to do with the readership.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

DVD rental annoyance.

I watched I, Robot last night. While the movie wasn't all that bad, there were certain IP practices in the rental that annoyed me considerably. The first was an annoying commercial right at the start of the DVD (which can't be forwarded) from FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft). This piece of propaganda asks viewers that they would not steal a car, but that downloading a movie is stealing. The problem is that it is not, it is infringement, which is different. The use of charged words is designed to equate the stealing of goods with the infringement of rights, which is not the same thing. Stealing a pie means that nobody else can use the pie. Downloading a song or a movie does not stop anybody else from watching or buying the movie. I also was annoyed by the sheer stupidity of placing this to rental copies. I am renting the DVD, so I am not likely to download the movie, am I?

The other annoying factor was the inclusion of endless commercials and previews. Wait a second, I just paid £3,50 to rent that DVD, why am I being subjected to viewing commercials and previews?

Then the movie starts, and it is filled with product placement, some of it is the most cringe-inducing placement that I have seen since Wayne's World did such as good job of satirizing it. The worst offender is the use of a pair of sneakers (Black Converse All Stars) that are reffered to more than some plot elements. They are "Vintage 2004", which makes this a blatant commercial, and then are talked about by at least three other characters. It is the most disgusting use of product placement that I have ever seen, and it makes other blatant product placement less noticeable, such as the disgusting Fed Ex robot and the lovely Audi car.

What I am getting at is that I felt that I had been subjected to so much advertising during this rental that I should have gotten it for free. As somebody else said, the movie should be renamed and called I, Converse.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

RSS legal journals

This is a great project from the Washington and Lee Law School Library, which is collecting a list of legal journal RSS feeds. The list includes 137 legal journals at the moment, ranging from philosophy of the law to Gaming Law (yes, there is a Gaming Law journal!). SCRIPT-ed has now joined the 21st Century and is also offering a feed informing subscribers of the lates issue.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Is wireless dangerous?

If you believe all sort of technology horror stories, you would think that Wi-Fi is the source of all evil on the web. Check this story for example, or this one. The common denominator is that the risks of having a Wi-Fi network in your house are completely blown out of proportion. Cities are not being taken over by hackers intent on warchalking and taking over your personal network. This article is more measured, and gives some good advice. Do not give into fear, go wireless.

Fishing for software patents

The good folks at FFII are announcing that the software patent directive will once more be presented as an A-Item in the Agriculture and Fisheries meeting next Monday. Yes, you heard right, Europe's agriculture ministers will decide whether we are stuck with software patents. I apologise in advice for the bad pun, but there is something fishy going on. Something stinks in Brussels.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Legal music sales rose in 2004

A report by the BBC says that legal music downloads are up almost tenfold during 2004 . In other news, snow is cold, rain is wet, and young people have no taste in music.

Jail for P2P developers

A new bill in California is asking for jail time for P2P developers. That's right, if you produce some software that can be used to exchange files through a network, then you can be thrown to jail. The stupidity of this bill is monumental for so many reasons, and works on so many levels. For example, they define P2P as:

"'peer-to-peer file sharing software' means software that once installed and launched, enables the user to connect his or her computer to a network of other computers on which the users of these computers have made available recording or audiovisual works for electronic dissemination to other users who are connected to the network."

So, this would make internet developers into offenders. FTP developing should also be covered by this. Not only that, Windows XP has some built-in technology that allows sharing files through a network, doesn't that mean that good ol' Bill should spend some time in the slammer?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Balkanization of the net continues

Some people fear that the net may be suffering from a balkanization of the internet, with a broken up network consisting of people who inhabit a space that only accepts trusted users, coming from trusted domains. This is made evident by some ISPs blocking email from Europe, and also about a decision by Google to allow a new hyperlink tag attribute that doesn't weigh the link in the search engine. I think that this is an exaggeration, but I am very worried by Verizn blocking european email. This assumes that the web is American.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Broken patent system?

This is a very good article in The Economist talking about the problems with the American patent system and IBM's 500 patent handover. They state that studies claim that 30% of all patents awarded in the United States are duplicate claims.

30%? I am surprised, I thought that the figure was much higher!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Yet another open biotechnology article

Open biotechnology continues to gather momentum in the press. This is a new article in Wired, very similar to many other articles that have been showing up since The Economist produced an article where the phenomenon was explained. The article doesn't really say anything new, but it is nice to see that the issue is perceived to have journalistic relevance. This really makes a change for one of my main research interests.

Attack of the zombies

This sounds like a badly written zombie movie. A man in Scotland is being held under suspicion of keeping a zombie network. A zombie is netspeak for a computer that has been hijacked to produce a certain effect, such as serving spam, serving viruses or sending DoS attacks (denial of service).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Man fired over blog

This is the first UK case of a man being fired because of something that he wrote on a blog. Joe Gordon, was a senior bookseller at Waterstone's store in Edinburgh, and had been with the company for 11 years. He has a blog called the Woolamaloo Gazette, in which he referred to his employer as Bastardstone's, called his line manager Evil Boss, and complained about his working hours and that the working conditions were slavery. He was fired for bringing the company into disrepute.

Don't you love the irony? This has gotten so much press that them firing him has really brought the company some bad PR. I think that they should take him and fire the guy that fired him. Poetic justice I would call it.

Interesting new campaign in the U.S.

Jailed for a song is a new campaign in the U.S. that is trying to get sensible IP legislation passed through the American Congress. The idea is to turn the tide of IP protection to regain liberties and freedoms enjoyed by the public, and to attack preposterous legislative proposals that attempt to further criminalise infringement.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Torrent is not dead

Those singing the demise of the Bittorrent network should not get ahead of themselves. The existing technology can still be used for countless purposes where the sharing of large files is needed. There is also a lot that can be done with a system that marries torrent technology with the distribution of seeds that can be found in other P2P networks. Developers are looking to create a new network that marries both ideas, called Exeem.

Don't owners know that they cannot kill file sharing? We will keep you posted about Exeem and any other file sharing technology.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Software patents in Europe

There have been several interesting moves about software patents in Europe. The proposal was introduced sneakily by members of the Commission to an Agriculture meeting dealing with fishing, which was struck down by Poland (thank you Poland, again!). Now, 61 MEPs have pleaded for the directive process to be restarted.

IBM opens software patents for OSS developers

(Registration required) IBM continues to champion the open source movement by allowing access to 500 software patents that it holds to open source developments. However, IBM is only allowing access to a minimal amount of its patents, as it was awarded more than 3,000 patents in 2004.

Bittorrent sites shut down

One of the most important things to happen in recent days is that several torrent rtepositories have been shut down. This is an excellent post in the blog Cyber Divide about the implications of the technology.

We are back

Technollama is now back from holidays in sunny Costa Rica.