Perhaps it's because I live in the US, but I always associated the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis with Alaska. Apparently, over in Europe, they associate it with some Scandanavian countries... but apparently there's a bit of a fight over which one. Matthew A. Sawtell alerts us to what he refers to as "a sign of the times," in which Norwegians and Finns are fighting over who "owns" the Aurora Borealis. Apparently, the Norwegians believe that their country is most regularly associated with the phenomenon. But Finland has just kicked off a tourism campaign that focuses on highlighting that you can see the Northern Lights from Finland. And the Norwegians are none too pleased:
The tension was triggered by a short film that the Finnish Tourist Board posted on its channel on video-sharing platform YouTube, featuring time-lapse footage of the aurora in Finnish Lapland. The film has been viewed almost 400,000 times since September, prompting Norwegians to complain that the Finns are trying to "steal" the northern lights.
"We can not stand by and watch the Finns try to grab a bigger share" of the northern lights market, said Per-Arne Tuftin of Innovation Norway, a state-owned company that promotes tourism in Norway. "We will not give up -- the northern lights will be ours," he told the Troms&ostrok;-based newspaper Nordlys, whose name translates appropriately as Northern Lights. Back in 2009, Innovation Norway launched a campaign to brand the northern lights as a Norwegian phenomenon.
The idea of ownership over shared things is getting downright ridiculous.
Almost exactly two years ago, I spent a nice week in Norway for Nordic Music Week, where I was able to spend a lot of time talking with musicians and music industry folks from various Nordic countries, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. One thing, that I found encouraging about many that I spoke to in Norway, was how eager and willing they were to embrace new opportunities. I wrote about how refreshing this was at the time. There were lots of success stories coming about and a general optimism for new technologies, without much worry about things like "copyright" infringement.
So it's a bit disappointing to see that legacy industry lobbyists (with the help of US diplomats, of course) appear to have had their way with Norwegian politicians and convinced them to propose an extreme and dangerous reform, that would both order ISPs to censor websites, "where material is being made available to a great extent, evidently infringing copyright or other rights in accordance to this Act" and also slash away at current data protection rules that require careful handling of personal info. Under this law, any info related to accusations of copyright infringement would no longer need to comply with Norway's Data Protection Act, which makes sure that information is handled properly.
This is all very unfortunate, if not surprising. We're seeing similar efforts in other countries as well. To the industry players, they seem to not care at all what rights they trample, just so long as they think it makes copyright "stronger."
from the one-thinks-they-might-have-more-important-things-to-work-on dept
LawPUNK alerts us to an odd sort of Streisand Effect situation in Norway. Apparently, clothing brand Lacoste has asked police to block Anders Brievik from wearing its clothes. Breivik, of course, is the guy in Norway who recently went on a cold-blooded murderous rampage, killing dozens at a summer camp. Apparently, Lacoste is one of his favorite clothing brands -- something that you or I would probably not know at all... until the company decided to let the world know by asking the police to stop him from wearing its clothing in court.
...random violence (terrorist or otherwise) is not predictable and not "findable" in advance -- not if a free society is to remain free, anyway.
The problem with attacks like the shooting/bombing in Norway is that they are isolated instances. The shock and horror of the event tends to overwhelm the common sense of politicians, law enforcement and the press itself, leading to unfortunate efforts like these, often combined with commentary from ad hoc armchair quarterbacks whose hindsight is endless but whose foresight is severely restricted.
The civil rights of citizens are trampled underfoot by politicians and law enforcement officials wishing to appear to be doing "something" to make their homelands safer. These "somethings" usually combine rush-job legislation with political theatrics, resulting in a hastily applied veneer of safety that extends the government's reach into the personal lives of its citizens.
We've seen it here in the US via the PATRIOT Act and the corresponding growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA. Once a law gets on the books, it rarely gets removed. There may be discussions about oversight issues or possible detrimental effects, but bad legislation tends to be permanent.
The problem with an effort like Finland's is that there is only one guaranteed outcome to this effort: more internet surveillance. In light of Breivik's known interests, this heightened attention means anyone whose gaming choices include Call of Duty or World of Warcraft could possibly find themselves under surveillance. People with strong opinions on major world religions or political organizations could very well be flagged as possible suspects.
No one truly knows what they're looking for when they implement programs like these, and because of that, nearly anything can be considered "suspect." Even worse, this attack was characterized as pro-Islamic by the media before the information surfaced that Breivik was anti-Islamic. Knowing who's actually the "risky" party isn't always so clear, meaning that anyone can be the risky party. When you combine large amounts of speculation with the tendency of politicians to twist laws into vehicles of self-service, the originally well-meaning legislation soon becomes a weapon against any display of political or religious dissent:
As former FBI agent (and current ACLU policy counsel) Mike German advises, any ideology can become a target of the government if the national security bureaucracy comes to use political opinion or activism as a proxy or precursor for crime and terrorism.
It's very hard for anyone in power to respond to a horrific tragedy by doing nothing, but if the track record of post-terrorist-attack legislation is anything to go by, "nothing" would be a refreshing change.
We already discussed how the tragic situation in Norway is already being exploited by some politicians to try to ratchet up security theater, but it may impact other issues as well. In the 1,500-page manifesto that the madman, Anders Breivik, posted online before beginning his rampage, he notes that he used Modern Warfare 2 for "training" and "simulation."
I just bought Modern Warfare 2, the game. It is probably the best military simulator out there and itís one of the hottest games this year. Ö I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else. Iíve still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations.
Separately, he talks up the value of using World of Warcraft as a "cover story" for why he was busy all the time, and notes that he did actually play WoW for a while to "isolate himself from the 'consumerist' world in preparation for his attacks." I'm at a bit of a loss as to how playing a commercial game like that isolates one from consumerism, but Breivik does not appear to be particularly big on logic.
But, of course, as with past tragedies involving people who played video games, this has only given new ammunition to those who push the moral panic that violent video games are evil. That article notes that the website "Conservapedia" is using this incident to call for the reversal of the recent Supreme Court ruling that laws banning sales of violent video games are a First Amendment violation. When I looked at the site, it was highlighting a stupid quote from a USA Today editorial about how evil violent video games are, predicting that the next tragedy would involve someone who "was first addicted to harmful video games."
That's an interesting spin. It's also ridiculous. There is no indication, whatsoever, that Breivik was "addicted" to these video games. Or that he was driven to do any of this because of the video games. There is no indication that without these video games he wouldn't have carried out these attacks (or other attacks). He had clearly decided to carry out such a massacre long before Modern Warfare 2 existed.
Like many people, I've been horrified all weekend reading story of the Utøya massacre in Norway. Although it's difficult to use such a fresh tragedy to prove a point, a post by Rick Falkvinge looks at why security theater in Norway was ineffective in preventing this tragedy, and how no further ratcheting up of security theater is likely to do much until it reaches ridiculous levels (random, frequent police raids of farms). The key point is the one Falkvinge concludes with:
Benjamin Franklin famously said, that ďa people who gives up its freedom to gain a little security will lose both and deserve neitherĒ. But now that it has been shown in the most gruesome, in-your-face way that we donít even gain a little security by giving up these freedoms, then why are we doing so?
Norwegian Prime Minister Stoltenberg is absolutely right when he says we must fight antidemocratic lunacy with more democracy and more humanity. His quote from one of the young on Utøya, "if one man can show so much hate, imagine how much love we all can show together", is one of the most statemanworthy I have seen in my entire life. Both when it came from the young surviving lady right off the island, and from Stoltenberg on repeating it in his official capacity.
It brings me to tears, and to something more important: hope.
As with past tragedies such as this one, we're already seeing some evidence that some people are using this tragedy as an excuse to ratchet up security theater. Editorials bemoaning the openness in Norway quickly appeared, and officials in other countries, such as the Philippines and Australia, have already used the tragedy to talk about changing security laws and even how such laws could prevent similar incidents from happening there. Of course, some of the laws they're talking about were already in place in Norway.
Thankfully, as Falkvinge noted at the end of his story, Norwegian politicians (so far) appear to be going in the other direction, noting how the response to such a cowardly (and yes, such a massacre is cowardly) and fear-inducing act is not more cowardice and fear, but openness and love. Hopefully those views continue to predominate in Norway. Giving in to such acts by increasing the culture of fear is actually what killers like Anders Breivik want.
Slashdot points us to the story of how two Norwegian day traders have been convicted and given suspended jail sentences for outsmarting an automated computer trading system, enabling them to make money. The details are not entirely clear, but from what's in the article, it sounds like they observed some patterns in the way the system responded to certain trades, and then they took advantage of that. Of course, that's exactly what automated computer trading systems, themselves, are supposed to do. They're supposed to notice patterns in trading and take advantage of that. So, would it have been illegal for the same automated trading system to notice patterns in certain human trades and take advantage of it?
We've made the argument repeatedly that saying unauthorized file sharing is hurting the music business lacks evidence. Instead, what we've seen, over and over again, is that more money is pouring into the music business, more music is being produced and (most importantly) that more musicians who embrace this new world are doing better than they would have otherwise. Now, we've pointed to research in the UK, Sweden and the US that have all shown aggregate growth for the music business, with some of the numbers suggesting more money going directly to musicians, rather than gatekeepers.
Like the UK and Swedish studies, this study, covering Norway, found that the aggregate amount going to the industry is up slightly (4% in real terms), mostly thanks to live shows more than making up for the decline in music sales (it's important to note that these researchers appear to have modeled their research on both the UK and Swedish studies, and made only slight changes, which they explain (and justify) in the report. The key finding is that musicians appear to be making significantly more these days than in the past:
Total artist revenues have gone from NOK 208 million in 1999 to NOK 545 million in 2009, which is an increase of about 162%. Excluding state subsidization, the income from 1999 to 2009 has increased with NOK 229 million, or 147%....
According to this, Norwegian artists have seen an increase in all four of their income sources during the past eleven years. This goes contrary to the common belief that artists have seen a decline in income because of the digitalization of the industry.
The loss of record sales because of consequences of the digitalization of the industry has not affected the Norwegian artists in the same brutal way as it has the record companies. Artists earn in general 20% or less from record sales, and a decrease in record sales would most likely be compensated by an increase in one or more of the other three income sources.
Now, it's worth pointing out -- as I learned when I attended Nordic Music Week last year -- that the Norwegian music industry is heavily subsidized by the government, which is one of the four revenue streams discussed above. However, that only represents about 30% of artist revenue in 2009. The largest single component -- again similar to what we've seen elsewhere -- is live revenue, which continues to grow. Even if you exclude state subsidies, the report found that Norwegian artists doubled their income in the past 11 years:
Adjusted for inflation, total artist revenue has gone from NOK 255 million in 1999 to NOK 545 million in 2009, an increase of about NOK 290 million or 114%. Excluding state subsidizations, the increase has changed from NOK 192 million to NOK 386 million, which is an increase of NOK 194 million or 101% This goes to show that the artists themselves, as a group, have seen tremendous more growth than the industry as a whole.
And, yes, there are more musicians out there to split the pie, but the growth rate in the industry has increased more quickly than the growth in musicians.
Since the total number of artists in 1999 and 2009 are available to the authors, it is possible to calculate an average income from music for artists in Norway. With 3200 artists in 1999 the average income from music would be about NOK 65 000. With 4100 artists in 2009 the average income from music is about NOK 133 000, creating an increase of NOK 68 000 or 105%. Adjusted for inflation the income has increased with from about NOK 80 000 to NOK 133 000, an increase of NOK 53 000, an increase of 66%.
Overall, the results, like those in Sweden and the UK, seem to clearly debunk the repeated claims from recording industry folks (and some musicians) that artists are somehow suffering under this new setup. Now, there may absolutely be cases where artists who fail to adapt are struggling, and there's no doubt that some labels that failed to adapt are struggling -- but there's increasingly little evidence that the overall music industry or artists as a whole are suffering. All of the evidence seems to suggest that it's not file sharing that's a problem at all. More money is going into the music business. The only problems are from those in the industry too stubborn or too clueless to adapt to capture the money that's flowing in.
Back in November, a district court in Norway ruled that ISP Telenor did not have to block The Pirate Bay, since the ISP itself was not contributing to any copyright infringement. Not surprisingly, the entertainment industry appealed, but Kristian Bysheim alerts us to the news that the appeals court has upheld the lower court ruling (Google translation from the original) by dismissing the appeal from the entertainment industry. It's good to see more courts around the world recognizing that ISPs should not be responsible for propping up the entertainment industry's business model when those companies fail to innovate themselves.
TorrentFreak alerts us to an interesting case happening in Norway right now. Apparently, the most expensive movie ever produced in Norway was (shocking, I know) found on the internet soon after it was released. The filmmakers got very, very upset about this and "launched an investigation." After figuring out what they believed to be the IP address of the first uploader, they went to the police, who basically said they weren't interested in getting involved. So instead, the fillmmakers filed a civil suit and attempted to get the name of the account associated with the IP address at the time of the first upload. But, at least in Norway, it's something of an open legal question as to whether or not a private company/individual can get such info, as it has the potential to violate data privacy rules.
Oddly, the court made its decision last May, but kept the verdict secret from the public. I guess I'm not that familiar with Norwegian law, but I find it odd that a verdict can be kept secret. Either way, whichever party lost (and no one knows who) appealed, and the Norwegian Supreme Court is apparently looking over the case.
Jay: Hmmm... Gonna have to hack my PSP... silverscarcat: I need a new battery for my PSP. :( It keeps shutting off if it's unplugged for more than 2-3 minutes, even on a full charge. Mike Masnick: green bars are back, and hopefully functioning better than before. :) silverscarcat: Oh look, AJ's having a cow and the internet tough guy is trying to be a stereotypical high school bully. *Rolls eyes* Hey, Mike, I know it's not in your nature to ban someone, but, damn, something needs to be done about this sometimes I think. Rikuo: unfortunately, nothing can be done. IP address block? Useless since either AJ is on a dynamic IP or he's on a static but using someone else's equipment. Username block? That would only add fuel to the "CENSORSHP" fire silverscarcat: Well, I think I'm going to leave for the day. That troll that plays the internet tough guy really should get laid, I think. It might help him think straight. Rikuo: holy fucking shit...I want to be this man http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/05/fios-customer-discovers-the-limits-of-unlimited-data-77-tb-in-month/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29 Warning - Home Server pornz on that link BentFranklin: in that article, where it describes his rack, what does 1u, 2u, 4u etc mean? Jeff: @Bent - 1U, 2U, 4U are units of measurement for server racks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rack_unit Dark Helmet: Hell, I"m just a silly tech services sales guy and I knew that... yaga: DH you should have just stopped at silly. dennis deems: Holy Cow http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/05/doctors-save-babys-life-with-3d-printed-tracheal-implant/ http://www.fairphone.com/ -- I wonder why they don't use kickstarter. does this make sense to anyone? is kickstarter not available in europe? Rikuo: There is for UK. You have to be a UK resident http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/creator+questions#GettStar of course that's just for the one company, called Kickstarter. There are other crowd-sourcing companies