Help Stop SOPA

Please help stop SOPA by completing this form! If you aren’t in the USA click on the “Not In US” option at the bottom of the form.

SOPA is a new US law that is getting voted on in the next few days, it will fundamently affect the way the Internet works and it will therefore directly affect you!

Want to know more about SOAP ? Checkout this infographic or this video

(Un)happy Skynet day !

The Skynet Bill is passed. The system goes on-line September 1, 2011. Human rights are removed from the Internet. Skynet begins to accuse at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. New Zealand time, September 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug…

but it is too late the NZ government has sold it’s soul and the people to the lobby groups

(Un)happy Skynet Day everyone! Have you stopped your torrents today ?

4 little words

I was horrified to see that the Department of Homeland Security has begun to seize the domains of copyright infringing websites. Now I’m all for copyright protection and theft is theft but this kinda of censorship is a slippery slope.

But it did get me thinking…

Since it is only the DNS entries that have been seized and you are still able to visit these sites if you know their IP address, wouldn’t be nice to have a DNS like way of remembering these IP addresses?

And so I give you the 4LW  ‘protocol’ (4 little words).

Basically you grab 256 words from the dictionary in the S/KEY RFC, then with a simple lookup table (where each octet of the IP address is mapped to a word in the dictionary) you can convert any IP address into 4 hopefully easy to remember words and back again.

For example:

The IP address for is, if you run this through 4LW you get the following phrase: LICK GORY ULAN MUTT


Of course this is bit of a toy idea (only good for IPv4 etc) but the romantic in me can see these little 4 word phrases hidden away in cryptic emails or scrawled as defiant graffiti on buildings of certain organizations :)

For those of you who are interested here is the dictionary for 4LW. I created it by grabbing every 8th word (starting with the first one) from the S/KEY dictionary. A = 0, AID = 1, YARN=255 etc.

{ "A", "AID", "ANA", "ARC", "AT", "AWN", "BAR", "BET", "BOG", "BUG", "CAB", "COD", "COY", "DAD",
 "DES", "DOE", "DUE", "EGO", "ETC", "FAT", "FIR", "FUM", "GAP", "GIL", "GUY", "HAP", "HER", "HIT", "HOW", "ICY", "ION",
 "IVY", "JET", "JOY", "KIM", "LAM", "LEN", "LIT", "LOW", "MAN", "MEL", "MOD", "MUG", "NAY", "NIP", "NOV", "OAR", "OIL",
 "ORR", "OWL", "PAP", "PEP", "PIT", "PRO", "RAG", "RED", "RIP", "RUB", "SAG", "SEA", "SIN", "SO", "SPY", "TAD", "TEN",
 "TO", "TOY", "UP", "WAG", "WET", "WOW", "YES", "ACHE", "ADEN", "AIDS", "ALLY", "AMES", "ANNA", "ARGO", "AUNT", "AWAY",
 "BAIT", "BAND", "BARN", "BAWD", "BEAU", "BELT", "BETA", "BILL", "BLED", "BLUR", "BOHR", "BONE", "BORE", "BOYD", "BRIG",
 "BULL", "BURT", "CAFE", "CANE", "CASH", "CHAD", "CHIN", "CLAD", "CLUB", "CODE", "COLT", "CORD", "CRAG", "CUBE", "CURL",
 "DANG", "DATE", "DEAN", "DEFY", "DIET", "DISH", "DOME", "DOUR", "DRUB", "DUKE", "EACH", "EDDY", "ELBA", "EROS", "FAIL",
 "FAST", "FELL", "FILE", "FISH", "FLAT", "FLOW", "FOLK", "FORK", "FRAY", "FULL", "GAGE", "GAME", "GAVE", "GIBE", "GIST",
 "GLOW", "GOES", "GORY", "GREW", "GULF", "HAAG", "HALO", "HARM", "HAWK", "HEED", "HERE", "HIKE", "HOBO", "HONE", "HOST",
 "HUFF", "HURD", "IDEA", "IOWA", "JACK", "JERK", "JOBS", "JOVE", "JUNE", "KANE", "KERN", "KISS", "KNOW", "LACK", "LAME",
 "LATE", "LEAK", "LENT", "LICK", "LILA", "LINK", "LOAM", "LONG", "LOST", "LULU", "LYLE", "MAIL", "MANN", "MASH", "MEAD",
 "MEMO", "MILD", "MINI", "MOAN", "MONA", "MORN", "MUDD", "MUTT", "NASH", "NEIL", "NIBS", "NOEL", "NOUN", "ODIN", "OLIN",
 "ONUS", "OUTS", "QUOD", "RAIN", "RAYS", "REEK", "RICE", "RINK", "ROCK", "ROOM", "ROVE", "RULE", "RUST", "SALK", "SAUL",
 "SEAM", "SELF", "SHAW", "SHOW", "SILK", "SITE", "SKIT", "SLIM", "SLUR", "SOAK", "SOME", "SOWN", "STIR", "SUMS", "SWAN",
 "TAKE", "TEAL", "TEND", "THEE", "TICK", "TIME", "TOIL", "TOOT", "TRAM", "TROT", "TUNE", "ULAN", "VAIN", "VEIN", "VINE",
 "WAIL", "WANE", "WAST", "WEAN", "WENT", "WHET", "WINE", "WOLF", "WORN", "YARN" }

UPDATE: Wow, I got a surprisingly big response to this post, making it to the front-page of Hacker News and Reddit, here are some updates:

The Amen Break

Came across this fascinating clip about the “Amen Break”, a 5 second sample taken from a 1960 b-side recording by a funk and soul bank. Amazingly this loop became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music. Not to mention that it has been used on numerous hip-tracks too.

Watch the video below and check out the Wikipedia page for more info

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BTW if you ever played with MOD trackers in the 90's then check out Sony's free ACID Xpress and relive those glory days :)

Section 92a scrapped !

Looks like section 92a is going to get scrapped or at least get a rework.

Woohoo ! The government actually paid attention to “the people” for once ;)

Thumbs up to the Creative Feedom team for drawing attention to the issues with the proposed law.

In case you missed it all (where have you been?) here are the top-ten issues that the CFF identified:

  1. No Independent Qualified Adjudicator: There’s no currently qualified or trusted independent 3rd party to judge (1) data forensics and (2) copyright law, so decisions must be based either on allegation or prosecution. Our positive solution to this is an extension in jurisdiction to the underutilised Copyright Tribunal (who currently handle only licensing disputes, of approximately one per year).
  2. Unclear Legislation: People don’t know how to obey the law because it’s poorly drafted and vague. The heavyweight TCF policy was written by and for conventional ISPs and it is inappropriate for the majority of “ISPs” under the new broad definition that includes libraries, schools, businesses, many homes, hotels, etc.
  3. Innocent People Framed: People can be easily framed for copyright infringement online, see . There are hundreds of Data Forensics experts in NZ that can tell the difference but expecting thousands of untrained businesses to do the same is impractical and ridiculous.
  4. Impractical and Technically Unrealistic Demands: Tens of thousands of internet devices in New Zealand are incapable of storing who accessed what, at what time, making corroborating accusations impossible. It would be like expecting, come March 27th, for all New Zealanders to be able to track who used a phone within a household or a business. Most phones just don’t have that capability, and most network devices don’t have that capability. Accurately tracking copyright infringement is a noble goal to head towards but we’re not there yet and therefore S92A is unrealistic and impractical. Government could amend the definition of an “ISP” to be instead a “CSP” (commercial service provider) which would reduce the scope to conventional ISPs like Xtra and Vodafone who are capable of tracking. They could then increase the scope of an “ISP” as internet hardware improves. In the meantime people can still be taken to court as they always could to resolve disputes (or possibly a Copyright Tribunal if that’s established).
  5. Business Compliance Costs: The business compliance costs of tracking (a practical necessity to corroborate future accusations) both in terms of buying tens of thousands of new hardware devices for the businesses now deemed “ISPs” have not been factored. Consumer-grade internet hardware devices capable of doing this cost approximately 0. We have been doing research on this and we may have some results early next week. It’ll certainly be tens of thousands of “ISPs” who need to spend that kind of money… and then you need data forensics and copyright law knowledge to use that tracked information.
  6. A Disproportionate Punishment: Internet disconnection is a disproportionate punishment that hasn’t been enforced by the courts in the past, even in extreme cases of copyright infringement (repeat commercial infringers as judged in a court didn’t get this punishment). Fines would be more appropriate and would protect businesses and home users. Music Industry studies suggesting people prefer internet disconnection to fines did not consult businesses or organisations (many of whom depend on the internet as much as a phone line). Further, the law doesn’t distinguish between a copyright infringement such as a thirteen year old’s self-written Harry Potter story (which if it uses the Harry Potter characters is copyright infringement) Vs. distributing thousands of movies illegally. Allowing fines would allow appropriate punishment.
  7. Harms Respect For Copyright And Artists: Although perhaps noble in it’s intent this law is corrosive to the public trust in copyright education that artists benefit from, and it risks undoing the social contract that underlies copyright; encouraging illegal downloads and taking money away from the creative sector. As artists we’re being very clear to distance ourselves from those companies pushing for this law so that the public know who is responsible for future injustices. On the issue of S92A we represent 9037 artists, out of 18,146 people (and 90% of these are New Zealanders).
  8. Business Risk: ISPs choose disconnection or connection under threat of being secondary copyright infringers themselves, or wrongfully terminating a customers contract. This is an unreasonable burden to place on thousands of businesses who are now deemed “ISPs”. Thousands of untrained people cannot be experts at data forensics and copyright law.
  9. Business Risk From Employees: For many businesses disconnecting a staff members internet may be like removing their phone line, effectively firing the employee. While inappropriate use of company services should result in dismissal there are obvious problems if the employer is unsure of the evidence, and associated risks in employment law.
  10. Reverses the presumption of Innocence: S92A calls for punishment with internet disconnect without due process and without evidence judged by experts. The “courts” under S92A policies are thousands of untrained “ISPs” and they operate under the threat of either 1) being secondary copyright infringers themselves if they make a wrong decision on copyright or data forensics, or 2) contract or employment problems of disconnecting people without really knowing if anything wrong was actually done. Businesses are risk averse, and untrained people may decide on who is the bigger risk to them — the accuser or the accused. In practice the accused doesn’t get anything resembling due process and it’s our opinion that most people will be considered guilty upon accusation.

Section 92 Delayed ?

Looks like Section92 may be delayed !!!

In a surprise announcement this afternoon, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson says the government will delay the implementation of the controversial Section 92a of the amended copyright law.

See here for more info….

Could be in response to a leaked letter that shows just how RIANZ would like things to be, which is pretty far from where the current draft code of practice is at.

[Update]: Prime Minister John Keys has announced a delay until March 27. See here for more…

How we landed up with Section 92a

In the parliament debate, National’s Christopher Finlayson explains their reasoning for reinstating Section 92A:

Christopher Finlayson: … The Minister [Judith Tizard] knows, and I certainly know, that we have all had approaches from various commercial entities, as a result of which the Minister has come up with a number of amendments. We will support those. The first makes some changes to new section 92A, and I need not go into that in any great detail. We support what is being done there. Essentially, it is putting back into place what had been there before the bill went to the select committee.

So basically MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…Read more on this sad and sordid tale here.

Labour and National on Section 92a

Interesting (but brief) video of Labour and National on section 92a during a Q&A session.

Basically National blames Labour for passing the law (even though they supported it) and saw they will watch how it works… Not a particularly useful response.

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What you need to know about the new copyright laws

As I type this, there are 19 days left until section 92 of the copyright law comes into effect. Last week Wednesday the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (TCF) published the draft copyright code of practice for Internet service providers. This code will be what the bulk of ISPs will be following when dealing with section 92.

I thought I’d take a quick look to see how this is all going to work (or not work as the case may well be).

First off the code of practice is just over 30 pages long, considering that section 92 is just shy of 850 words you kind of get the feeling an awful lot of detail was left out of the law, which is of course what everyone has been complaining about.

From a end-user’s point of view, the nub of the process is as follows:

  1. A copyright holder sends a notice to your ISP claiming you have infringed on their copyright i.e. illegally downloaded some music or a movie or perhaps used one of their songs in your kids birthday video etc…
  2. If the ISP feels the copyright holder has supplied enough evidence, your ISP sends you a Education notice (how very soviet)
  3. At the end of every month, your ISP will send you an email detailing how many notices you have.
  4. Once you have accumulated 3 undisputed notices, each in different calender months and they haven’t expired then you get a Final Warning (notices expire in 18 months).
  5. If a copyright holder then sends another claim to your ISP, you are notified and your Internet account is terminated in 48 hours.

Seems pretty straight forward and even reasonable but as with all things there are some interesting twists.

Perhaps the most interesting is that there are two types of groups that can receive a Education Notice. The first is called a User by the code, which is basically you and me.

The second group is called Downstream ISPs by the code. This group obviously covers resellers of bandwidth but more importantly: “may be a business or other organisation that supplies telecommunication services, membership or subscription services or otherwise directly provides Internet Accounts to Users. In turn, Users who are individuals may be students, employees, contractors or customers for example”

Yep that’s right any business that gives their staff Internet access or schools, libraries, hotels with Internet access, even coffee shops with wi-fi hotspots are all Downstream ISPs. Furthermore the code states that when an ISP passes on a notice to a Downstream ISP it does so relying on the fact that as an “ISP” the Downstream ISP has implemented a termination policy that complies with section 92A !

Wow, I wonder if businesses out there know what they are in for and how much is it going to cost them to come up with policies and procedures to deal with this? Of course if they don’t then they are breach of the law. Did I mention this law comes into effect in 19 days time :)

Of course the code has a mechanism for you to dispute a notice and disputed notices don’t count towards termination until they are resolved. The code makes it fairly clear that to dispute a notice you have to have strong evidence to prove your innocence so you won’t just be able to disputed every notice sent your way.

This is where another wrinkle turns up.

As written the code uses the ISP as a middle man for the dispute process when it is a User countering the claim but tacked onto the back of the draft code is a “reworded strawman counter-notice procedure” which has been drawn up to “address concerns expressed by certain Copyright Holders” . In this reworded procedure a Copyright holder is passed the contact details of a User who is disputing the claim!

This of course opens up some interesting issues. If you don’t dispute a notice then you remain anonymous but if you try to fight “they” find out who you are. I suppose this means that they could file legal proceedings against you and it of course would allow the copyright holders to build up a database of trouble makers. It all seems a bit fishy that the copyright holders would be pushing for this change.

[Update]: Actually as the Creative Freedom guys point out the reword is actually far more insidious. It would in effect make the Copyright holders not only the accusers but also the judges on any counter claims and disputes ! This is just nuts, it would make the entire code of practice a farce.

I’d suggest you have a read of the code to see for yourself what we are in for. The draft is now open for public submissions which close on Friday the 6th March 2009, but since the law goes into effect on the 29 February 2009 you have to wonder what processes will be followed before the code is ratified.

Perhaps another sign that this law just hasn’t been thought out.