Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Mega Strange

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  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Mega’s Bram van der Kolk has pointed out on Twitter that although Slater is now talking about protecting his “source” for the story, his original post claimed that he found the infringing file by dint of just “a bit of poking around on the internet”.

    The two claims don’t exactly tally.

    You have to poke pretty deep to find any pirate links to Mega as far as I can tell. It really doesn't seem to be a popular service for such activities.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I could upload my entire legal iTunes library to Mega and it’s totally legal.

    Bear in mind, though, that that would not have been local in the case of music from CDs before the law was changed to allowed format shifting. And that right still does not apply to video and even music rights owners can, in theory, contract out of format-shifting with a shrinkwrap licence.

    I’m not sure how all that applies to books, but I wouldn’t be surprised if backing up your e-books was considered an infringement.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Cam Slater, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The conclusion I would reach is that Cameron Slater uploaded the file

    A wrong conclusion...as you often are.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2013 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to ScottY,

    Home-taping 2013 styles.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    You have to poke pretty deep to find any pirate links to Mega as far as I can tell. It really doesn’t seem to be a popular service for such activities.

    So it seems. But it keeps being singled out in press statements from local rights owners.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Vikram Kumar, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Here are the stats: 435 million files uploaded to MEGA in 9 months, of which 0.05% received a notice of alleged copyright infringement. I think the numbers speak for themselves (thankfully) about MEGA being used for widespread copyright infringement.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    Actually I'd forgot there was a service that indexed (user-submitted) links to files hosted on Mega... There's 390,000 files on there apparently, although the usability is terrible and there's no way to determine how many of those files are still live.

    I suppose Mega could (and I think did at one stage) pro-actively remove links featured on that site, but simply being on there is no clear guarantee the file is being pirated, there was definitely some stuff on there that appeared to be much more esoteric (including some conspiracy theory bullshit).

    Again it all requires human input and inspection to accurately determine what's legal and what's not on there.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Bear in mind, though, that that would not have been local in the case of music from CDs before the law was changed to allowed format shifting. And that right still does not apply to video and even music rights owners can, in theory, contract out of format-shifting with a shrinkwrap licence.

    If I buy a file from someone is there a restriction on where I can store the file? Can I put it on an external hard drive? What about a USB stick? My Mega account is no different to those things.

    I’m not sure how all that applies to books, but I wouldn’t be surprised if backing up your e-books was considered an infringement.

    Fundamentally I can't see how it would be possible to sell someone a download file and not allow them to store copies. The very act of downloading does that. Can't say I've ever read any eBook license agreements though.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Cam Slater,

    __"The conclusion I would reach is that Cameron Slater uploaded the file"__

    A wrong conclusion…as you often are.

    Okay then, so Mega has asserted that the files in question were only ever downloaded by the same person that uploaded them, and you've acknowledged you downloaded them...

    What conclusion should we draw? What conclusion would you draw? Are Mega lying? Are you?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Okay then, so Mega has asserted that the files in question were only ever downloaded by the same person that uploaded them, and you’ve acknowledged you downloaded them…

    What conclusion should we draw? What conclusion would you draw? Are Mega lying? Are you?

    There's one remaining possibility: Slater's source uploaded the file and then Slater downloaded the file independently but using the same computer and/or account. But it doesn't really matter if Slater did it all himself or if he had an accomplice do the uploading. Either way would mean it was a story he manufactured.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But it keeps being singled out in press statements from local rights owners.

    At least that seems to be a legitimate case. I think clearly Mega is getting attention because Kim Dotcom is newsworthy in NZ. And "NZ textbook found on The Pirate Bay" doesn't seem likely to get much of a response beyond "duh".

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    But storing files in the cloud is not infringing. Allowing others to download those files, on the other hand, is something entirely different.

    Providing a cloud system that allows people to upload files can potentially be an infringing act. Both uploading and downloading involve copying.

    I could upload my entire legal iTunes library to Mega and it’s totally legal.

    I wouldn't be so sure about that.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to ScottY,

    Providing a cloud system that allows people to upload files can potentially be an infringing act. Both uploading and downloading involve copying.

    How? Like I'm genuinely curious. I have content in my Mega (and Dropbox, and Google Drive) account that is absolutely copyright protected. I can't see how that's any different to storing same files on a USB stick. As long as I don't share the link (or give the USB stick) to anyone else I'm not infringing any copyright as far as I can see.

    (The possible exception being where I'm not allowed to have format- or time-shifted the content in question).

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I have content in my Mega (and Dropbox, and Google Drive) account that is absolutely copyright protected. I can’t see how that’s any different to storing same files on a USB stick. As long as I don’t share the link (or give the USB stick) to anyone else I’m not infringing any copyright as far as I can see.

    I wouldn't assume that the law makes logical sense in this regard. It is entirely likely that law draws distinctions between USB sticks and cloud services even though technically there is no difference.

    But as you point out there is no difference between Mega and Dropbox and Google in this regard. So why aren't we seeing press releases decrying those other services?

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to SteveH,

    I wouldn’t assume that the law makes logical sense in this regard. It is entirely likely that law draws distinctions between USB sticks and cloud services even though technically there is no difference.

    I doubt that in does in the sense that I doubt the law expresses the concept of cloud storage. It would all be down to arguing interpretations of words if it came to a court somehow.

    But as you point out there is no difference between Mega and Dropbox and Google in this regard. So why aren’t we seeing press releases decrying those other services?

    As far as I can determine it's two-fold. Firstly Dotcom is a high profile name, attach a story to him and it's virtually assured of local coverage. Secondly there is still an interest, I think, among many in the "content industries" in painting Dotcom as a villain.

    The more he (and people like him) can be vilified the less we're likely to look at the bigger issues around piracy and access to content in general. Ironically I think that delaying those conversations can only serve to hurt the industries in the future.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Kumar says Mega was able to identify the file URL from the Whaleoil blog post, even though it was partially obscured. But where did Whaleoil get it from?

    I've always suspected it's either an attempted sting operation, or some form of dirty tricks campaign.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    As long as I don't share the link (or give the USB stick) to anyone else I'm not infringing any copyright as far as I can see.

    And of course we all encrypt our USB drives so no-one can open them when we lose them...don't we?

    @Ben Wilson

    Expensive texts - who woulda thought?

    Amen to that, and the background is unless you have a wildly popular text you are lucky to make the cost of a good meal in royalties (I know I've seen the cheque). It is unbelievable how may academic authors still don't get any digital royalties!

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    And of course we all encrypt our USB drives so no-one can open them when we lose them…don’t we?

    And?

    Utilising simply tools to strengthen privacy is a bad thing?

    Regardless is makes no difference at all. Dropbox, Google Drive etc all offer no client-side encryption and operate in exactly the same way.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to SteveH,

    I wouldn’t assume that the law makes logical sense in this regard. It is entirely likely that law draws distinctions between USB sticks and cloud services even though technically there is no difference.

    If you copy a file onto a USB stick then you may well be infringing copyright unless the terms of your licence permit that copying, or an exception applies under the Copyright Act. (e.g. there is a format-shifting exception for sound recordings, but I can't see how it would apply to a USB stick)

    And yet people say our copyright laws are outdated...

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    So it seems. But it keeps being singled out in press statements from local rights owners.

    And we are back to the same old argument in Pead's press release.

    “Educational texts are being illegally shared at an alarming rate and it’s hurting New Zealand authors, publishers and distributors to the point where earning a viable living is becoming increasingly threatened,”

    i) Most academics don't make enough off books to live.
    ii) The book in question costs $120 hardback and $80 as E text

    So who is making money here?

    The PR people?

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Regardless is makes no difference at all. Dropbox, Google Drive etc all offer no client-side encryption and operate in exactly the same way.

    Sorry Dylan my badly made point was actually that cloud services are less prone to copying because they don't get lost and when encrypted by default they are hard to hack - unlike USB drives.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    So why aren't we seeing press releases decrying [e.g. Google]

    Google has a market cap of around $280 billion, 5% of the NASDAQ. That's big enough to give it immunity - if the FBI raided Google, there'd be a whole lot of California congressmen and senators on their case.

    An outfit fronted by an offbeat German in an obscure and docile satellite state is a much easier target.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to ScottY,

    If you copy a file onto a USB stick then you may well be infringing copyright unless the terms of your licence permit that copying, or an exception applies under the Copyright Act. (e.g. there is a format-shifting exception for sound recordings, but I can’t see how it would apply to a USB stick)

    And if I copy the file from the directory I downloaded it to onto another harddrive is that also infringement? How about if I copy it to another directory on the same drive? What about copying it to a portable harddrive? If the law does not treat these cases identically to the USB stick case then the law is unworkable, IMO. There may be an argument from the cloud storage case being different, but it's a tenuous argument at best.

    Also is it infringement when I copy it from the harddrive into RAM? What about a copy that gets stored in an ISP's proxy server as I download it?

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Actually I’d forgot there was a service that indexed (user-submitted) links to files hosted on Mega… There’s 390,000 files on there apparently, although the usability is terrible and there’s no way to determine how many of those files are still live.

    I suppose Mega could (and I think did at one stage) pro-actively remove links featured on that site,

    They blocked it way back in February. And there may have been others blocked too.

    In this light, focusing on Mega as a piracy-enabler over all its competitors starts to seem quite irrational.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    i) Most academics don’t make enough off books to live.
    ii) The book in question costs $120 hardback and $80 as E text

    So who is making money here?

    Dunno. In a totally broken model, we can have no one making money. However hard it is for academics to live off their book sales, it's hard as a student studying calculus to see why they should pay $200 for things that were old news in the 19th century, whose content form has barely changed in 50 years, and which are delivered in the least convenient form possible, either a heavy brick of dead trees, or some pokey DRMed proprietary thing lacking in even basic features. Considering there's entire online courses covering the same material, at least 20 choices of professional YouTube video series, and millions upon millions of second hand texts, I'm not surprised it's hard to make a living off something like that.

    *ETA: Not to mention the texts themselves, jailbroken and freely handed around, usually via sticks, or even just photographed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

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