By Akira The Don on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Bad news for Bloodhound Gang fans! Not only must you suffer poor quality “clean” versions of their videos, while decent quality unedited versions get taken down quicker than Scooter Libby’s Mom’s PANTS (AHAHA) – that’s if you can even see them in your country –  it’s looking like you  will now only be able to complain about about this in the comments if you have a Facebook account.

Ch ch ch ch check it out (via Econsultancy):

The past decade may have been tough for the music industry, but thanks to online video, times have arguably never been better for the music video.

On YouTube, for instance, music videos represent one of the most popular content categories, and some of the most popular music videos have racked up hundreds of millions of views.

In an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the music video, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and the Abu Dhabi Media Company formed a joint venture called VEVO, which was launched in late 2009.

Lately, there have been rumblings that VEVO was looking to ditch its biggest technology partner, Google’s YouTube, and form an alliance with Google rival  Facebook. And now there’s reason to believe the rumors might be true.

As reported by TheNextWeb, VEVO is informing users that very shortly, they won’t be able to register or login except through Facebook. An email sent to existing VEVO users has the subject “The new VEVO.com is coming” and reads in part, “as part of the new VEVO we will be offering account registration only through Facebook.” It adds, “If you’d like to save any playlists you have already created, please visit your current VEVO account and connect it with Facebook today or sometime in the next 7 days.”

While a break-up with YouTube could have been written off as being too risky given the amount of traffic YouTube delivers to VEVO, the email seems to indicate that such a break-up is imminent.

That is good news for Facebook, bad news for Google but even worse news for users.

Yes, it’s understandable that VEVO would want access to the social graphs of its users to create more personalized experiences, but at the end of the day, a deal that requires VEVO users to register and login through Facebook seems like the type of deal only a stereotypical MBA with no real understanding of the internet would cook up. It’s almost as if some executive at VEVO looking to put his or her name on a big deal agreed to this without thinking through the ramifications of effectively reducing VEVO to a Facebook app.

Needless to say, not everybody is on Facebook and many individuals who are don’t want their web activity to be connected to their Facebook accounts. Forcing registrations and logins to go through Facebook therefore makes registering and logging into VEVO a less appealing proposition.

Even more foolish is the apparent haste with which VEVO is moving. The company’s email suggests that existing users who don’t take action within a short seven day window will lose all of their playlists. Not exactly a brilliant move, unless the company’s goal is to annoy its users.

Given the music industry’s track record of poor strategy and execution over the past decade, the structure of the apparently impending VEVO-Facebook marriage isn’t all that surprising, even if it is still disappointing.

UPDATE: A VEVO spokesman contacted us with the following clarification:

No plans have been made to implement any form of compulsory login for all users. Although registered fans will have to now login through solely through Facebook, the platform does not require registration to view videos. Fans can still browse the website for free and watch an unlimited number of videos without ever having to log in or register.

— By Akira The Don on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

By Akira The Don on Friday, March 2nd, 2012

From Torrentfreak:

The dramatic shutdown of Megaupload and the US government’s case against the operators of the service has the potential to alter the entire service provider landscape, not just in the United States but all around the world. Indeed, some observers believe that has already happened. After defeating attempts to put him back behind bars yesterday, Mega founder Kim Dotcom is back with more insights into the reasons behind the site’s closure.

After speaking with TorrentFreak on Monday, Kim Dotcom has elaborated on his situation in an interview with 3news’ Campbell Live, which now gives us the opportunity to reveal a bit more detail about the current musings of the Megaupload founder.

Aside from the heavy-handed nature of the shutdown, the underlying shock in this case has its roots in the undermining of a previously presumed level of legal protection for service providers.

Earlier this week, Dotcom told us that in recent years Megaupload had spent millions of dollars seeking out the very best legal advice and the conclusions drawn were clear – providing the site did its part in tackling infringement it would be protected under the DMCA and could not be held liable for the actions of its users.

Towards achieving this protection, Dotcom told us that the company had developed relationships with 180 takedown partners – companies authorized to directly remove infringing links from Megaupload’s systems – and between them they had taken down in excess of 15 million links. Those companies included the major studios of the MPAA who, incidentally, in 7 years of the company’s existence had never tried to sue Megaupload for copyright infringement.

On the advice of Megaupload’s legal team, the company believed it had the same rights as YouTube in its case against entertainment giant Viacom. In that 2010 case U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton said service providers can not be held liable for infringement as long as they remove links upon copyright holder request – even if the provider knows that parts of their service are being used to host illicit content.

“[YouTube] won their lawsuit and I’m sitting in jail, my house is being raided, all my assets are frozen without a trial, without a hearing. This is completely insane, is what it is,” said Dotcom of his predicament.

Dotcom told TorrentFreak that the indictment left out many key facts, not least that Megaupload users enter into a binding legal agreement when they sign up to the file-hoster which included promising not using the service to commit crimes or infringements, a point tackled again today by 3news’ John Campbell.

“Of course, that is a romantic notion though, isn’t it, that just because we tick the box accepting the terms of service that we’re going to behave ourselves when we’re in there, right?” questioned Campbell, adding that Mega must’ve known that people would have inevitably agreed to the terms of service and then gone on and done whatever they liked.

“Well there are other laws that protect users and those are privacy laws. For example in the US it’s the Electronic Communication Privacy Act which prohibits us from looking into the accounts of users proactively and look for things,” responded Dotcom. “It’s like mail, it’s private, we cannot just go in there and police what these users are uploading.”

Although the company is clearly trying to distance themselves from comparisons to Megaupload, Swiss-based RapidShare made much the same point in a recent TorrentFreakinterview. The file-hoster said that it would always respect customer privacy by never looking through their files without permission. Earlier this month, the EU Court effectivelybanned the practice after music rights group SABAM failed in its bid to force social networking site Netlog to proactively scan uploaded user files for infringement.

It’s not unusual for huge figures to be punted around in copyright infringement cases and in this one in particular Megaupload is accused of costing copyright holders half a billion US dollars. That figure has been repeated dozens of times but according to Dotcom, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“If you read the indictment and if you hear what the Prosecution has said in court, at least $500 million of damage were just music files and just within a two-week time period. So they are actually talking about $13 billion US damage within a year just for music downloads. The entire US music industry is less than $20 billion,” he explained.

So, with all of the file-hosting services out to choose from, why would the authorities single out Megaupload? We discussed this with Dotcom on Monday and in common with the Campbell interview, the name Mediafire came up.

Mediafire is a huge file-hosting operation – in July 2011 they were clocking up 34 million unique monthly visitors, just 3 million behind Megaupload. In the previous month, the term “mediafire” was even partially censored by Google as being a piracy-related term. There can be little doubt that either Hollywood or the recording labels asked Google to take this action.

But of course what Mediafire doesn’t have is the imagery generated by a figurehead like Dotcom, and if there’s one thing that Hollywood is all about after money, it’s image – and Dotcom believes he presents their perfect arch-enemy character.

“I’m an easy target. My flamboyance, my history as a hacker, you know, I’m not American, I’m living somewhere in New Zealand around the world. I have funny number plates on my cars, you know, I’m an easy target,” he told 3news.

“I’m not Google. I don’t have 50 billion dollars in my account and right now I’ve not a penny on my account. All my lawyers currently are basically working without a penny and they are all still on board and all still doing their job because what they see here is unfair, is unreasonable and is not justice.”

But when one cuts through all the drama of the past couple of months and even with the demise of Megaupload, a service painted as the worst of the worst by Hollywood and the authorities, piracy has not gone away. Despite everything it continues and Dotcom believes the reasons for that are obvious – it’s a service issue, with regional time delays providing a prime example.

“If the business model would be one where everyone has access to this content at the same time, you know, you wouldn’t have a piracy problem. So it’s really, in my opinion, the government of the United States protecting an outdated monopolistic business model that doesn’t work anymore in the age of the internet and that’s what it all boils down to,” he explains.

Yesterday, at the behest of the US government, a court in New Zealand considering revoking Kim Dotcom’s bail. In the event that attempt failed, with the Megaupload founder continuing to insist that he’s not going to flee the country as the prosecution has suggested.

For what it’s worth, we believe Dotcom’s claim. He is full of fight, genuinely optimistic that he can win this battle, and has exciting plans for the future – none of which appear to involve hiding in a cave or befriending Hugo Chavez.

“I’m no piracy king,” he concludes. “I offered online storage and bandwidth to users and that’s it.”

You can watch the full 3News show here, and read our earlier article here.

— By Akira The Don on Friday, March 2nd, 2012

By Akira The Don on Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Cheers @thecharmofbirds for the heads up on this new outrage.

“FB won’t let me share the link for the new video because they think your shop link is unsafe. Erm wat?”

Are they about to launch their own URL shortener or something? If anyone else spots this happened please let me know, all my Youtube videos have bit.ly links on them…

— By Akira The Don on Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By Akira The Don on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Chrome’s “Oops, Google Chrome could not find” Error has been the abne of my existence for ages now. And praise Xenu, this seems to have worked for me. The process had also sped up my whole internet experience. Amazing! I will update if that changes, natch.

— By Akira The Don on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

“Every government is run by liars, and nothing they say should be believed.”
I.F. Stone

The internet is celebrating today. People are screaming from digital rooftops in all caps: SOPA IS DEAD! WE DID IT! WE SAVED THE INTERNET! SOPA IS DEEEEEEEEEAAAD!

The Hill:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced on Friday that he will postpone consideration of his Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) until there is wider agreement on the controversial legislation.

Yeah, SOPA’s dead, like a vampire’s dead. IE, SOPA is undead. The key word there is postpone. What we have here is a delay and a free’d up acronym (anyone for a Start Online Privacy Act?). It will be back before we know it with a new name and a new purported and super urgent purpose. Perhaps child pornography – certainly no publicly motivated human on earth could possibly criticize a bill that promises to end child pornography. Maybe “terrorism” concerns when we’re officially at war with Iran and Syria. Or a new, perfectly vague and manipulatable threat that news anchors can really get hysterical over: cyber terrorism. Some sort of i911. And with Anonymous declaring all out war in the wake of the Megaupload shutdown, this could come back around pretty quickly.

Ah, the Megaupload thing. In which The Cloud dream was killed forever (for who in their right mind could risk storing all their important info online when the Feds can come and snatch it all, just because someone else has a copy of Pirates Of The Caribbean in the next digital locker along?)  SOPA’s postponement was announced directly after after The Mega Upload thing, not our beautiful, 13 million strong web blackout. The Megaupload Thing… in which The Powers That Be made a big ole impeccably-timed Hollywood movie style action packed bust for the teevee, underlining the fact that they don’t actually NEED any goddamn SOPA, or PIPA, to close a website, take innocent people’s property and destroy a business without any trial or due process. PRE CRIME MOTHERFUCKER. We said you did it, and we are Team America, World Police, and we will arrest a German national in the sovereign nation New Zealand if we like because we are the frikkin BEEEEEST! All Your Internetz Are Belong 2 Us! In your FACE Human Rights!

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

As the Atlantic’s Dashiell Bennett notes:

The shutdown inadvertently proved that the U.S. government already has all the power it needs to take down its copyright villains, even those that aren’t based in the United States. No SOPA or PIPA required.

Of course, the trial could always end in a failed prosecution, making an excellent highly visible case for the inadequacies of existing law, thus setting the stage for the newly branded SOPA/PIPA (the pet project, let us not forget of but TWO American business organisations: Hollywood and the major label music industry.) “But that crazy fat man was banging Playboy Bunnies on private jets!” the people will wail. “It’s not fair! He must not be allowed to get away with it! We demand you fix this immediately! He must burn! He must be stoned! To hell with the internet!”

And so, like The Kaiser Chiefs before them, SOPA and PIPA will return, singing the same shit songs, yet beloved of the masses where once they were spat upon.

A battle may have been won – unless that was a deliberate run up the flagpole slash testing of the waters to begin with – but this is no time for any laurel-hammocked slumber parties. Here in Europe, our unelected Turbo-Catholic masters are already pushing their similarly bogus Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Tyranny, like Chuck norris, does not sleep…  it waits…and eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.


— Monday, January 23rd, 2012

By Akira The Don on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Sorry Yelawolf for sleeping on Radioactive. Well, Radio, anyway. This joint is beautiful.

— By Akira The Don on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012