PIRATE BAY SCORES A BIG WIN!

It’s making headlines around the world today: a major new development has occurred at the trial of The Pirate Bay.

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In a nut shell, half of the charges leveled against the site’s founders have been dropped, including the most serious and potentially damaging charge of “assisting copyright infringement” via the torrent-sharing site.

This is a huge, huge win for The Pirate Bay. They’re not entirely out of the woods yet, though. Check out these links here, here and here for more information. Who knew how big this trial would end up being?

Hopefully soon this trial will be over and WikiLeaks — the controversial Internet Age portal for documents that exposes the truth on governments, corporations and other organizations and also happens to be housed in the same building as The Pirate Bay — will be back up to full operational capacity soon.

NEW TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT

So it’s been a few days since I last posted on here. I’ve been intensely busy and I was enjoying the day off today, so here’s a small little post (more extensive posts are coming this week).

THE NEW FACEBOOK: For people on Facebook, this might be of some interest to you. Apparently the site’s Terms of Service have changed. Some of these changes are, well, a little creepy. For example, check this new phrase out in Facebook’s ToS:

“The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.”

This means, in non-legalese, anything you ever upload or store on Facebook from now on is Facebook’s. As in if you ever delete your account, they still retain rights over the content you uploaded.

Feel better about Facebook? No, me neither.

THE PIRATE BAY: The trial that could determine the future of downloading, copyright and torrents online is now underway. Opening statements were made today in a Swedish court by the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which is representing copyright holders. A strongly recommended link for anyone interested in this sort of thing.

SITTIN’ ON THE DOCK OF THE PIRATE BAY

In the midst of this crazy, crazy workweek and the very good news emerging out of Washington yesterday (now let’s just hope that stimulus works, for America’s sake… want to see how potentially FUBAR America could become if the stimulus doesn’t work? The Blue Screen of Death is old news; check out the Green Line of Death), some stories for those of you interested in Intellectual Property issues (yes, all 28 of you) and downloading pirated material should check these stories out:

* One of the biggest trials in Swedish history that will have worldwide ramifications is about to commence next Monday — the trial against one of the net’s giants, The Pirate Bay. Sweden is an oddball among European nations in that its copyright laws have, at least until recently, been permissive enough to allow The Pirate Bay to operate in a legal vacuum of sorts. The Swedish government — which has been under considerable pressure to get tough with The Pirate Bay from foreign governments like the U.S. government and this blogger’s less-than-favoured entity, the Motion Picture Association of America — is going to war against The Pirate Bay in an effort to shut them down, possibly permanently. Interestingly, The Pirate Bay — a site that is actively supported by a large number of ordinary Swedes and even an organized political party – is providing worldwide online streaming of the case so more than the 40 people allowed in the courtroom can actually hear what’s going on. They’re certainly not going down without a major fight and the legal case against them is questionable at best. Of course, there’s always the option of going off-shore to a more friendly nation and/or region if The Pirate Bay loses the case: after all, it’s not like major corporations would ever, ever skirt national laws to their own benefit. *snark*

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* Speaking of The Pirate Bay, the site’s recently created a page that tracks where connections and downloads via The Pirate Bay are coming from. Long and short: China’s got an overwhelming number of pirates. Yet the United States has a large number too, and Canada (!) has a disproportionate number of downloaders relative to our population.
* Anybody else just a wee bit pissed off at the prospect of Live Nation and Ticketmaster possibly merging? Well, hard times aren’t just about the economic fundamentals — this proposed merger will likely be another nail in the coffin for corporately-backed music.
* As gorgeous, beautiful and enticing as the Amazon Kindle 2 is for a major book lover like me, I can’t and won’t give in, especially since I’m not American. In the economic times we live in, Amazon’s approach is what we call “highway robbery.”
* Porn star Jesse Jane has some interesting things to say about 3-D and HD technology beyond the obvious. Just think: if this technology was in mass deployment today, those Comcast subscribers who saw the 30-second porn clip during the Super Bowl might have gotten an ever bigger credit towards their monthly bill!
* First there was WikiScanner — a brilliant piece of software that’s kept Wikipedia edits accountable beyond IP addresses. Now comes WikiDashboard — a social transparency site that makes it easier to determine how edits are being done, comparing knowledge and edits and how these topics relate back to the subject page. Great, great idea.
* My pal John Carson has some great advice today about Google and how it can affect your career. Bookmark this link and follow him on Twitter — he has great insights and advice.

PERVASIVE SURVEILLANCE

Well it’s been a super busy last few days for me. It’s also been a surprisingly productive Saturday. I truly love sleeping in. It’s better than ever staying up late. You know you’re getting older when you start talking about sleep like this.

Anyway, some interesting news came out of the U.K. today. It’s something that’s been a topic of interest and concern for sometime now, especially ever since I took a fourth-year course on it back at Queen’s: the rapidly emerging surveillance state the U.K. (and both Canada and the United States) is becoming.

* The British House of Lords (!) released a report today indicating that the U.K.’s culture of mass surveillance is undermining personal privacy and freedom. This is significant because a) it’s the House of Lords, not exactly known for representing the whims of the common people in the United Kingdom, and b) it couldn’t be more timely for Britain, given the wretched state of the country’s economy and the potentially dangerous side effects of this major crisis (i.e. unraveling of the country’s social fabric — don’t think it’s impossible, it’s happened before in other countries).
* Of course, since it’s the weekend and I don’t want to be a total bummer, here’s a lighter article on five actresses who could replace Angelina Jolie in the next Lara Croft movie, considering it’s very unlikely at this point she’ll come back for another one. Personally, I’m rooting for Summer Glau. Oh man, if she had a British accent. I think I’d probably be in love (although Monica Bellucci could work too). Here’s a cool picture of Glau in The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

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Oh *sigh.*

RECESSIO-NOMICS

I’m really starting to hate this economic downturn.

As if newspapers didn’t have enough economic problems, this recession seems to be accelerating the pace in which newspapers are shedding jobs. And by accelerating, I mean 200-kilometres-per-hour-driving-over-a-cliff-crash-and-fatal-burns-to-the-driver fast.

While the news reports are still sketchy as of yet, there were a number of layoffs at The Globe and Mail today and 24 reporters were given the axe at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald (sidebar: in the words of Sideshow Bob, “I’m aware of the irony of posting a link to layoffs from a newspaper’s web site, so don’t bother pointing it out.”).

Hey journalism students — better get those Web publishing skills up to scratch!

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* Oh boy. This could be either a great story or very, very bad. Iran’s now joined that exclusive club known as spacefaring nations. Now let’s hope they don’t ever join that other exclusive club.
* I swear, if Apple were a human being, it would be an incredibly classy and hot stripper. Why? Well, like strippers, they toy with the audience, reveal parts of themselves very selectively and ultimately find some way to separate you from your money. Four words: Flash, Video Recording and iPhone.
* Will the recession create more pent-up demand for online gaming? Well, considering that most people will probably be spending a lot more time at home in the next two years, I say yes. World of Warcraft baby!
* I know this link might be in slightly poor taste given what’s happened today, but it’s a good lesson for everyone and anyone trying to hold onto their jobs.

WELCOME TO AMERICA, V. 2.0: NOW WITH EXTRA SOCIALISM!

Just in case you needed another reason to feel uneasy to start off Monday: President Barack Obama has said that it’s likely more banks are going to fail in the U.S.

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Of course, this doesn’t change the fact there’s strong indications the Obama Administration will likely be nationalizing a number of banks to protect taxpayers and rebuild trust in America’s moribund banking system. When Obama says that he doesn’t expect to get elected again if he can’t turn this situation around before 2012, you know it’s gotten pretty damn serious. And vaguely socialist in terminology. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… just saying.

So, what’s going on after one of the best Super Bowls ever (The Boss made it all the better)?

* Congress is trying to delay – again – the switchover to Digital Television. At the risk of hyperbole, this writer places blame squarely on you – the do-nothing Congressional members.
* Google Earth is now under the Sea. Under the Sea. No, no Disney characters will show up here (thank God).
* A very good article about the potential benefits and risks involved in Facebook Friending your boss. A must-read for, well, anyone on Facebook.

Oh, and lastly: I was involved in the creation of an event for Journalists For Human Rights and the National Film Board of Canada’s CitizenShift web site a few years back. Basically, it was a collaboration between the two organizations in submitting films based on Human Rights. The project has been resurrected by JHR and the NFB once again! I have nothing to do with it this time, but it’s nice to see an idea of mine put to good use once again. Good work guys!