Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Mega Strange

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  • Keir Leslie,

    You know, it's kinda absurd to assert blithely that calculus textbooks today are the same as they were a hundred years ago. Most calculus textbooks these days, like it or not, are part of a much different pedagogical framework than they were even fifty years ago. I agree textbook publishing's a corrupt rort, but let's not over egg it.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yeah but the madness never ends when you consider that academics in NZ, UK and US are paid for by taxes and students. Students in a manner of speaking end up paying twice and having publishers clip the ticket because much of the content has been paid for.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, 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)

    Assuming I have a right to have a file in the first place (ie. I purchased as a file) then what provision might stop me from storing said file on any given medium for my personal use?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to SteveH,

    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?

    I haven't got time to even attempt to answer your questions. Copyright's complicated. And sometimes it doesn't provide clear or sensible answers.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Assuming I have a right to have a file in the first place (ie. I purchased as a file) then what provision might stop me from storing said file on any given medium for my personal use?

    Check the terms of the licence.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to ScottY,

    Check the terms of the licence.

    Yes, but this again gets to the fundamental problem. There are ways to use a cloud service (or a blank DVD for that matter) in both infringing and non-infringing ways.

    It's impossible for the service in question to know whether the hosting or distribution of any given file is infringing.

    Without knowing an absurd amount of information about the context of the file in question, and the person who's storing it, there is no way for a hosting provider to draw a conclusion about it's legitimacy. That's why a notice-based system is the only viable option. And even then the notice-based systems are frequently abused - look at the thousands of unfounded takedown request Google receives weekly, or the frequent instances of YouTube videos being taken down for non-infringing activity (the recent incident with Day One: Garry's Incident is my favourite at the moment)

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    CLNZ filed a takedown notice on our behalf, and we alerted the Luminaries’ international publishers, who have legal departments who deal with this sort of thing.

    Unfortunately not when it's an international publisher doing this kind of stuff....

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to ScottY,

    I haven’t got time to even attempt to answer your questions. Copyright’s complicated. And sometimes it doesn’t provide clear or sensible answers.

    Fair enough. The point I'm trying to make is that talking in terms of what the law actually allows might be pointless because there is a very good chance that the law does not in fact permit enough copying to use even legitimately obtained content. Copying is an intrinsic requirement of using every sort of digital media and to try to restrict copying in arbitrary ways in likely to been seen as ridiculous by anyone with a sufficient technical background to see how arbitrary it is. From a moral or ethical point of view there is no difference between backing up my legal content on a harddrive, on a CD, on a USB stick, or in a cloud service. If one is allowed they all should be allowed (and IMHO they must all be allowed unless the publisher is willing to replace lost copies). The intent of copyright law is to prevent distribution and that is where the focus should be. This particular case does not appear to involve distribution at all, and I bet similarly technically illegal but harmless non-distributing copying occurs hundreds of thousands of times each day in this country alone.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Roughly, copyright law proscribes *any* form of copying (of content that claims to be copyright) and then creates technology and content type specific carveouts.

    - it's illegal to make any copies of a file that isn't audio or a computer program
    - it's illegal to have more copies of your audio file than you have playback devices
    - this comment is copyright me. You may not copy it for any purpose including viewing. Hey, you, Russell and his hosting company (but not your ISP) just broke the law!

    This is obviously completely out of kilter with most people's idea of what should be illegal. Only by highly selective enforcement can it be sustained (a bit like drug laws in that regard).

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to SteveH,

    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?

    At the moment these things are not infringing uses, our legislators having heard the arguments and decided that making such transient copies subject to the control of rights owners would be a terrible idea.

    It’s done and dusted as far as our copyright legislation is concerned.

    Unfortunately … we may yet have just such a provision presented to us as a fait accompli thanks to TPP.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    this comment is copyright me. You may not copy it for any purpose including viewing. Hey, you, Russell and his hosting company (but not your ISP) just broke the law!

    In your face, copper!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • James Burnett,

    So WhaleOil pretty much got snapped out here, huh.

    Since Jan 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I agree textbook publishing’s a corrupt rort, but let’s not over egg it.

    Well, you could actually quite adequately learn elementary calculus from a 50 year old text book, you know. I have one in front of me right now - it's the same stuff as the new one, and sometimes clearer in the the different exposition. I'm not suggesting that the new books have no added value at all, but they're nowhere near $200 worth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Holy crap, PA comments are basically an unfolding mystery novel today. Come on Cameron chime in again! I want the scooby doo ending.

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Morgan Davie,

    So it’s been accessed by the uploader only?

    Then Mr Slater either:
    * trusted his source about what the file was, and ran his story without bothering to check it actually was The Luminaries there, OR
    * uploaded it himself so didn’t need to check.

    Fact-checking is for sissies. Or real journalists.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to BenWilson,

    Well, you could actually quite adequately learn elementary calculus from a 50 year old text book, you know.

    At the risk of a massive derail, Calculus Made Easy has been a top seller since 1910. And it really is very good.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Vikram Kumar, in reply to Islander,

    Funnily enough, as far as I have been able to determine from MEGA's records, CLNZ did not actually get around to giving MEGA a copyright takedown notice for both the files. (Not that I'm encouraging takedowns without notice from the copyright owner or their agent for all the reasons discussed in this thread, but with all the effort that went into press releases, appearing on TV, etc. one would imagine they would find the time to actually give formal notice to MEGA).

    Wellington • Since Oct 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As yet another indication that focusing on Mega is a misguided strategy, it appears nowhere on the MPAA's list of most-wanted sites.

    NB: that tip came from Lownes Jordan partner Rick Shera, who is advising Mega. (Otoh, the fact that Rick is advising Mega further suggests that Mega is staying within the law. He's not stupid.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    And it really is very good

    :-). I’d suggest Plato to anyone starting Philosophy. It’s two philosophers for the price of one. Or even more, if you count some of the other folk who show up.

    *Oh, and it's all free.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Without knowing an absurd amount of information about the context of the file in question, and the person who’s storing it, there is no way for a hosting provider to draw a conclusion about it’s legitimacy.

    And countries around the world have attempted to address this concern by implementing safe harbour rules for ISPs and cloud providers, so that they don't infringe copyright if they do certain things. e.g. our section 92C. I say "attempted", because there will always be arguments about how effective/fair/reasonable they are.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY, in reply to SteveH,

    Fair enough. The point I’m trying to make is that talking in terms of what the law actually allows might be pointless because there is a very good chance that the law does not in fact permit enough copying to use even legitimately obtained content.

    NZ's Copyright Act provides exceptions for transient reproduction of a copyright work, or copying as an essential part of a technological process, which would cover some of the things you mentioned.

    But the law is currently playing catch-up with technology, and (as Russell mentioned above) the TPP also looms on the horizon.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ScottY,

    NZ's Copyright Act provides exceptions for transient reproduction

    thank goodness for that, since the whole interweb is a giant copying machine

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Samuel Scott,

    Come on Cameron chime in again! I want the scooby doo ending

    +1

    #peskykids

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Since 1910? Must be well out of copyright now.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Will the Nation be getting Mr Slater and that nice man from the Publishing Council back on to ask them questions and give clarifications after their piece last week? It made it seem as if Mega was like a torrent site- which it isn't going on the description given in the blog right?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

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