Panorama just aired an ‘interesting’ show tonight. Entitled “Are the Net Police Coming for You?”, the BBC describes the show in the following way.
A proposed new law is threatening to disconnect the millions of internet users who unlawfully download free music, films and TV. Jo Whiley looks at how broadband use at home may never be the same, and could even be cut off
Broadcast on: BBC One, 8:30pm Monday 15th March 2010
The problem is, the show is much like one broadcast as part of Film09 last year. That show, like this one, relied almost entirely on industry views, regurgitating their talking points, and ‘facts’ without any attempt at journalistic integrity. Basic practice is to get confirmation on facts from two separate sources, and yet both last year, and last night, this was not adhered to. The reason why is simple, of course – there is no second separate source. The Copyright industry is the only one claiming losses. The only facts that support those claims, are studies those same industries fund. Even then they don’t match up, although that little detail is swept under the rug.
Like last year though, I’m going to complain. and like last year, I expect I’ll get a rather cavalier brush-off as to why the program was short on facts, counterpoint, investigation, critical analysis or basic rational thought.
Just so you understand, the film09 segment last year was basically a regurgitation of the MPAA/Rand study claiming organized terrorism is involved in ‘movie piracy’. The problem is, my old friend at TorrentFreak, Ben Jones, debunked the report thoroughly weeks before the segment was shown, and he wasn’t alone in it. The respnse to my complaint however, dismissed little things like ‘facts’
Subject: ‘Film 2009 with Jonathan Ross’ [T2009040900EUS010Z5530203]
4/15/2009 10:25 AM
Dear Mr Norton
Thank you for your e-mail regarding ‘Film 2009 with Jonathan Ross’ as broadcast on 31 March.
I note you felt the report on this programme about copyright theft wasn’t adequately balanced as it only featured interviews with people from the film industry. I appreciate you felt we allowed a distorted view of this issue to be portrayed and note you have strong views regarding this matter.
This report focused in on a legitimate problem for both the film industry and the authorities as they try to tackle what is an ever increasing and profitable criminal activity. We feel the report outlined the laws surrounding the issue of film piracy adequately and that the interviewees from the film industry were entirely appropriate people to comment on the problem.
Impartiality is the cornerstone of all our output, and we feel this report was fully balanced in it’s coverage of copyright theft. Nevertheless I appreciate our audience has a wide range of opinions and inevitably this means that not every viewer will agree with the content of every programme we broadcast. We know all our editorial decisions are subjective and we’d never expect our audience to agree with every decision we make.
With this in mind that I’d like to take this opportunity to assure you that I’ve recorded your comments, including that you believe this topic deserves a more in depth investigation, onto our audience log. This is an internal daily report of audience feedback which is circulated to many BBC staff including senior management, producers and channel controllers.
The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.
Thanks again for contacting us.
And now, almost exactly a year later, we have another program, making a similar lobbying attempt, cunningly camouflaged as factual programing. The UK Pirate Party has, so far, found over twenty errors, embellishments, inaccuracies and misstatements. I imagine the number will increase as more people look closely at the program.
I for one will be sending another complaint (http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/) , and I hope I won’t be alone in it. When I get a response, I’ll post it straight away.
Back in September 2007, TorrentFreak ran a piece about the porn industry deciding to take on pirates. G4TV was interested, and contacted them to see if one of their writers would like to appear on their flagship program, Attack of the Show, to talk about it. All the writers for TorrentFreak, are Europe-based, and G4 is a US channel, though, and Attack of the Show is done Live (or thereabouts). So, on September 14th, I was asked if I’d take part, representing the US Pirate Party, and I said ‘yes’.
The segment filmed, and aired Monday, September 17th, so there was little time to prepare. I’ve not been a huge follower of the porn industry, or a downloader of porn, so I had to reach out to my contacts to find out more. I was lucky, in that one acquaintance of mine from a year or two earlier, was running two porn torrent sites, and forwarded me contact details for some of their admins.
Armed with all the prep, I was told that Crawford Communications would be awaiting me, and that I would be dealing with an Anh Tran as my opponent (try looking up that name when you just get it over the phone) so that was that. Crawford’s a lovely company though, very professional, especially Jim Baxter, who was my cameraman/producer. The only downside, was they didn’t actually get G4 on their cable system!. I couldn’t even see my opponent or the show, all I could do is hear it through a single earpiece. It also meant, I had no idea how delayed things were until after the show was done, and I got to watch it later that night.
I’m in Atlanta, they’re in San Fransisco. Ahn is on set or next door – there’s no delay for him. Theres roughly 1.5 seconds delay each way for me. Thanks to some snappy decisions by the Director, it’s not obvious, but it becomes so at the end, when I’m talking over someone – it’s not intentional, it’s just hard to tell.
Anyway, tell me what you think of it in the comments.
And since I can’t seem to get it embedded here, you’ll have to go to THIS PAGE to see it.
About 2 years ago, in the January of 08, I started a little project. It was to look at the box office figures put out by the film industry, and look how p2p had impacted them. I did some initial research, which looked at US box office figures for 1996-2007.
Then, in June 07, I published an initial summery of some of my findings, with the aim that I would try and have the full study finished by the end of July 08. That (obviously) didn’t happen. A mixture of real-life pressures, and ADD kept me from finishing it (plus work on the Pirate Party US/International).
Studies like this were the reason I stepped down from Pirate Parties International. It’s only recently, now that the US Pirate Party has a full board, that I can concentrate once more upon things. So, I’ve updated the box office figures, and included 2008 and 2009 as well as 1990-95 (although some of the 09 films are still showing, so shouldn’t be taken as ‘final’).
One thing I did notice when collecting the figures, were the figures for 2005. This is the year, let’s not forget, where Hollywood claimed to lose $6.1Billion, to “Piracy” (meaning ‘copyright infringement’)
The thing is that while the box office figures for the US were down a bit, they weren’t down by much, especially not when compared to the 90s (before ‘piracy’) What’s more, while they may have lost a claimed $6.1Billion worldwide (1.3Billion of that in the US); the top ten films, of the 547 or so released that year, took in over $5.7B worldwide (and $2.4B in the US).
They never mention their income in the same press release as their claimed losses, and now you know why. They also never include the costs of the films, and there’s another reason. The top 10 in 1990 cost around $316.5Million in 1990 dollars (521.5Million in 08 dollars), which included films like Ghost, Total Recall, and Due Hard 2.
2005’s top 10 films cost a whopping $1.307 BILLION to make by contrast ($1.441Billion in 08 dollars) – 2.7x more. In fact, only two of 2005’s films cost less to make than the most expensive film (in the 1990 top ten, Die Hard 2 ($70M in 1990, $104M in 05 dollars). Those were Wedding Crashers ($40M) and Madagascar ($75M)
When you want to look at a reason Hollywood, and the MPAA feel they’re losing money, it’s the budgets that should be looked at. People are still going, but it’s the expense that drives the profits down.
Many thanks to BoxofficeMojo for lots of lovely data to work with.
So the oink trial is over, and Alan won.
In a larger sense, many of us won. The Oink raid and trial was, at it’s essence, a show-trial, every bit a spectacle trial (or ‘spectrial’) as last years Pirate Bay one – if not moreso. After all, the Swedish Police didn’t do the raid accompanied by TV cameras – in fact they covered up cameras – but otherwise it was similar.
So let’s go through the case. It started with a raid, covered by the BBC in a regional news program that covered the talking points of the victim (the IFPI/BPI) and the police. Worse, the police, in the form of Detective Inspector Colin Green, made definitive statements that were at odds with the facts.
“There’s approximately 180,000 members, who pay subscriptions to enter the website and download any music that’s available. And music that’s been made available on that website, it’s pre-release, it hasn’t gone into the record shops”
As we all know, subscriptions were not required. Nor was music downloaded from the site. As for the pre-release claims, a small percentage may have been, but the better question is where it came from, presumably a music industry person that decided to upload, and not acquired by Mr Ellis himself.
The domain was also hijacked, by the IFPI and BPI, displaying their logos and an intimidating message. Interestingly, the representatives of the alleged victims, the IFPI and BPI, were not only participating in a criminal investigation, but headlining it. A definite conflict of interest at the very least, but the hijacking of private property owned by the defendant, by the accuser, to post intimidation and attempt to influence people, is clearly an attempt to prejudice the trial. 3 days later, thankfully, the website was redirected, but it shows the levels of influence these industry bodies have over the police.
Meanwhile, Alan Ellis, was released, and spent the next 11 months on bail before being finally charged with “Conspiracy to defraud the music industry”. The UK lobby group FACT has a description of the offence which actually pretty much gave the case as a win for Ellis (and archive.org says the page is still the same as in May 06). The specimen charge they give reads
On a day between the … Day of… 19.. And the … Day of… 19.. In the county of… And elsewhere, conspired with … And with persons unknown to defraud the copyright owners of various video films by marketing/distributing/manufacturing infringing copies of video films contrary to the common law
No-one was defrauded of films, they still had them. The only way the charge could work, is if the claim is that the copyright owners had been deprived of money they might have got. Great, except that argument can be made by anyone you’re in competition with. Oh, and copyright, not a property – it’s an assignable right.Next time – the build up, the users, and the pre-trial playabout.
One of the core philosophies of reporting is that you only print what you’re sure of. If you don’t know, don’t say. That way Libel lies.
Someone really should tell the Northern Echo (Update; see comments, it’s written by the Press Association) that. Today, they ran a piece about the restarting of Alan Ellis’ trial. Alan, if you didn’t know, was associated with oink, the music bittorrent tracker. If you know about bittorrent, and the case in particular, it’s a real head-slap moment. The majority of the piece appears to have been copied from the RIAA/BPI filings made to police, and 30 seconds research (even to past news stories covering this case) would prove the lie.
Let’s look at some of the errors
A man suspected of operating one of the world’s biggest pirate music websites from a bedsit had his trial adjourned today.
I’m pretty sure the site was operating from a Hosting company. Despite claims made by ISPs, their residential connections aren’t all that fast.
“Computer equipment and documents were seized from his home in Middlesbrough in 2007 and he was charged by police with conspiracy to defraud the music industry and copyright infringement.”
Actually, things seem cut and dried, but it’s not quiet accurate (again). The raids and seizures were made in October 2007 (and ‘coincidentally’ with a BBC camera unit in tow) but Mr Elis was not charged until 11 months later. With Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry – a charge unheard of before (possibly because it doesn’t actually exist?)
“Police and music industry investigators suggested that he could have made hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from the OiNK website, which he set up in 2004.
“Could have”, yes. Did do, no. Over the same time period he *could* also have murdered 300 people, or run for the House of Commons. It’s actually music investigators (the plaintiffs) making that accusation first – that’s one of the things that triggered the raid.
“He is the first person in the UK ever to be charged with illegal file-sharing. “
Oh, not even close. We could cover Barwiska (although that’s a civil case). The uploaders to oink that police arrested as a result of this raid, who were sentenced a year ago would also probably dispute that.
The OiNK website was a complex computer programme created to help share music and audio files amongst a community of online users.
The oink website was a fairly simple website which accessed a tracker database backend. It’s no more complex than Amazon, or any other database-driven site, and is certainly not a computer program, complex or otherwise.
Members of the community would seed the system by uploading music files or leech from it by downloading music files.
Sorry, They would seed torrents, which are independent of the tracker or ‘system’. Likewise, they would leech from torrents, using bandwidth from other users, not doing anything with the ‘system’ directly.
To do so they had to register their email address and a unique user name, and make donations by debit or credit card to ensure full access and maximum usage of the site.
Yes, yes, and no. Donations were not required – this is back to the ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ argument above. Telling the lie that you HAD to send money, means there’s a minimum financial value associated with each user, which can be counted, which then leads to the money claims above. Since there was no requirement to pay to use the site, the rest of the argument falls down badly.
The technology used – a method known as BitTorrent file-sharing – had three main advantages: It broke files down into small pieces of data, which made that data more easy to share, giving a higher quality download in a shorter time.
First, that seems like only one advantage to me, and a nonsensical one at that. Higher quality means bigger file, regardless of protocol used to share, which means LONGER time not shorter. What I think they mean to say was “it breaks files down into smaller chunks of data (just like all data transfers do) which can then be distributed with a far greater efficiency than using any other protocol”
The beauty of the system was that each time a person leeched – or downloaded – an album from the internet, they became a seeder from whom other OiNK users could download the same album.
True, but only as long as the specific torrent in question was not only still in the persons client, but actively running as well, not permanently, as is suggested.
Early online file-sharing systems were so slow it could be more expensive to download an album than to buy it in a shop.
I would really LOVE to know how they came up with this statement. I suppose if you were on dialup, calling a non-local Point of Presence that was not free, you could maybe rack up some charges (7.9p/minute at current BT national call rates). Dialup (when I had it with blueyonder in 99-2002) would do approx 1MB every 5 minutes, and a 3 minute song is about 3MB. 15 minutes per track comes to 118.5p. In that way, yes it’s more expensive than 99c from itunes, BUT, it’s less than the cost of going to HMV or Virgin, and buying a single for 10 songs, its £11.80 – which is less than I seem to recall albums costing now, or then (and we’re not factoring in travelling costs), so another false claim.
But advances in technology meant OiNK users could download very high quality music files, very quickly.
Oink users, iTunes users, BBC iPlayer users- that’s not something specific to Oink. The technological advances are in broadband rollout and speed, bcause if you’re still on dialup, bittorrent won’t be any faster – would almost certainly be SLOWER in fact.
Ellis’ trial at Middlesbrough Crown Court was adjourned until tomorrow, for legal arguments.
Wow, they managed it! They managed an entire sentence that was wholly accurate.
You want to know what’s quite fun about this piece though? Since it’s a newspaper, distribbuted in the area of the trial, and which contains a severely slanted perspective on the case, including a lot of factual errors, it could be considered prejudicial to the case, and cause a mistrial. Nor is it the first time such action has happened in this case. Immediately after the raid the domain was hijacked by the music industry, long before charges were made, let alone a day in court.
Fun eh? I’ve sent a link to this to the News Editor of The Northern Echo, I wonder what his response will be.
UPDATE:i’ve just been informed that the Mirror is also running the exact same story Wonder what their editor thinks of it.
UPDATE 2: Just has word from Alan “didn’t even get my job right.” – nuff said really.
… or so we’re told.
There is a belief, that music sales are being harmed by the internet. MP3’s and peer-to-peer (p2p) networks have made swapping music easy, ever since Napster burst onto the scene in 1999. There is even a section on the BPI’s website that deals with it (strangely titled “File-sharing FAQ’s”
Why is it a problem; does filesharing damage music sales?
Aside from the fact that filesharing infringes and undermines the rights of the creators and investors in music, it’s enormously damaging to music sales.
Is is true though?
Well, according to figures from the UK music industry themselves, the answer is No.
I have already published this info once, in my recent consultation response submitted to the UK government. What I didn’t do, however, was show what those figures look like. After all an arcane group of numbers might look like anything, what’s needed are some illustrations.
Without further ado, let’s get to the data then.
The data is provided from two sources. The data comes from the Official UK Charts company information pack, And the BPI “Top market lines” publication. Also, as the BPI notes, digital album data was only collected from Q2 2006 onwards, so prior to that, any sales were unrecorded.
Lets’s start with Albums. First, the raw figures (figures are in millions of units)
And likewise the singles figures (again, figures are in millions of units)
This might look like boring data, so lets add the graphs.
Album sales look like this
While singles sales look like this
Doesn’t look all that damaging to sales to me.
One last test though, let’s look at all those sales numbers combined, see just how much the sales have been ‘hurt’ over the last 10 years by P2P.
Lord Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill has in it the proposal to terminate the internet connections of people repeatedly accused of copyright infringement. It’s claims that because this is such a big loss maker, and so time consuming and costly to enforce, justice should be circumvented and punishment be made to deter the actions from being committed.
There is, however, a bigger crime out there, that is harder to prove, and more costly to the country as a whole. It’s name? CORRUPTION
It not just causes a huge loss in financial terms, with public funds being misappropriated into uses not benefiting the country as best it could. It also substantially undermines the whole political process, removing faith in the democratic process, and in the validity of the government. It is even, unlike copyright infringement, a criminal offense, so the general acceptability of corruption is zero.
Thus a 3-strikes procedure for corruption of a public official should be even higher on the agenda.
Unfortunately for Baron Mandelson, he’s already got two past allegations of corruption on his record.
- In 1996 there was an incident with Geoffrey Robinson over a £373,000 interest free loan.
- In 2001 there was an incident with Srichand Hinduja
On both occasions he resigned his government position.
There have been further hints of corruption, such as
- In 2004, he spent December 31st on the yacht of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, while he was a EU Commissioner for Trade, and Microsoft was being investigated for antitrust violations (antitrust being a substantial trade concern)
- In 2008 it was alleged that he had maintained contact with a Russian businessman, Oleg Deripaska, and had, during his time as EU Trade Commissioner twice cut traffics that benefited Oleg’s RusAl aluminium company, as well as swift entry visa’s being arranged by one of Deripaska’s senior employees when Mandelson wanted to visit.
- Finally, this past summer, he reportedly showed no interest in the Digital Britain report, until after a holiday in Corfu, including meeting with Dreamworks co-founder David Geffin. On returning from this holiday, he then modified an already open consultation in order to speed the timeline up. Another action that has the appearance of corruption.
There are, then, 5 instances of corruption alleged. Were these simple copyright infringements, that would be suitable for strong sanctions to be automatically taken. However, since these are allegations of the serious crime of corruption, rather than the completely unproven damage alleged of copyright infringement.
With 5 ‘strikes’ against him, he would be eligible for the appropriate counterpoint to termination of internet services – termination of liberty. Prison, in other words.
It won’t happen though, because it strikes right at the heart of politicians; because corruption is a serious problem and copyright infringement is only a serious problem for those afraid of losing control; because too many government officials would end up in prison; and because current government officials, above all else, do not want to have to be honest, truthful, or accountable.