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Posted on Techdirt - 11 August 2012 @ 12:00pm

Baldaur Regis' Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the the-internet-is-actually-useful dept

What has 500 thumbs and sounds like a murder of crows? A Twitmob, of course, and this weeks' chatter of angry, angry birds featured a group of writers closing down a website...for helping promote their works. Oops. Don't be too hard on them - mobs of any sort are tricksy beasts, and most of these folks are self-publishing their ebooks. To all the struggling authors out there: good luck, keep writing, and thanks for the grammatically correct tweets.

If you're writing just for the money, you may want to look into a membership with The Author's Guild, yet another trade organization suing Google for copyright infringement. Google Books is an ambitious project that aims to scan and digitize every book in existence. The Guild is asking for a summary judgment of $750US per scanned book. As of March 2012, Google Books has scanned over 20 million books. Does $15 billion dollars sound like a reasonable penalty for helping ensure the continuation of all human knowledge, levied against an organization using the most conservative sense of "Fair Use"? See just how Google Books defines "fair use" and decide for yourselves.

And from the same The-Internet-is-actually-useful department comes news that The Internet Archive - home of the fabled Wayback Machine - has enabled more than 1 million torrents to its collection of copyright-free books, movies, music and more. What's the big deal here, you ask? This stuff can just be downloaded from the Archive. Consider the architecture of the Internet as it exists today: under the banner of cloud computing, more and more data is being concentrated in massive server farms owned and operated by corporations such as Google and Amazon (just for fun, ask your hosting service where your website is actually hosted). Server farms are physical choke-points, subject to weather, changing local regulations, and the whims of the hardware owners. If the farms go offline, bye bye data, nice knowing ya. With peer-to-peer distribution (aka P2P, BitTorrent, etc), bits and pieces of the data reside on multiple personal computers located anywhere in the world, and if one goes down, the data is still accessible to anyone connected in the swarm. Our data is ours, we'll share it with whom we please, and if corporations or governments try to throttle our ability to share via BitTorrent, they would do well to remember the world is full of clever people; new protocols will be developed. Some may scoff and say server farms have backups on their backups - what could possibly go wrong? Think about the recent Twitter outage or the MegaUpload takedown.

Finally, speaking of MegaUpload, what's the latest word on that fat fellow in New Zealand? By now, we've all seen the footage of the police raid; debates on this entire subject will doubtless rage on for some time. I leave you with an observation, and a thought: look, really look, at that footage. Listen to the commentary, watch the people's reactions in the courtroom; see their faces. I get the sense of a decent people caught up in something they know to be unsavory, something brought to their shores under the guise of friendship with America. How do you tell your friends their government is listening to bad council and has gone astray?

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