NZgeek 's Techdirt Comments

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  • Journalists And Key Engineers Who Built The Internet: Completely Opposed To SOPA

    NZgeek ( profile ), 15 Dec, 2011 @ 03:47pm


    The technologies in use today are often more than 20 years old. They existed back in the days when the Internet was used mostly by academics and research facilities. They continue to be used because, aside from the flaws, they still work fairly well.

    Now that we're seeing more and more parties trying to abuse these technologies, the engineers are trying to come up with a more robust solution. This takes a lot of time, because you need to try and think of all the ways that malicious parties may try to break the proposed technologies. Any new system that is decided on also takes a lot of time to roll out, as there are billions of internet-connected devices that may be affected.

    The engineers know the system is broken, and are trying to fix it. Idiotic laws like PIPA/SOPA will stop those efforts dead in their tracks, by legislatively introducing the sorts of failures that the new systems are trying to prevent.

  • EU's Advisor On Supporting Net Activists Previously Forced From German Government…By Net Activists

    NZgeek ( profile ), 13 Dec, 2011 @ 02:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The kitchen knives argument is perfectly valid.

    Kitchen knife manufacturers produce tools that are designed to be used by the general public, and which have clear and intended legal purposes. However, some people choose to use the tool for something other than its intended purpose, and may cause (physical) harm to others.

    Many of the tools used for online piracy are designed for use by the general public, and have clear and intended legal purposes. However, some people choose to use the tools for something other than their intended purposed, and this may cause (financial) harm to others.

    What's the difference here? In both cases you have tools with significant non-infringing uses, which are abused by some for purposes other than what was intended. In both cases the misuse can cause harm to others. Yet you say that all possible measures must be taken to stop one misuse, whereas the other can go unregulated?

  • Facebook, Twitter, eBay & Other Big Internet Companies Come Out Against SOPA

    NZgeek ( profile ), 15 Nov, 2011 @ 03:40pm


    So you would advocate manual review of all user-posted content on all websites, worldwide? Do you have any idea of how financially crippling that will be to web sites?

    Let's take YouTube, one of the biggest sites. They have (on average) roughly 48 hours (172800 seconds) of video uploaded to them every second of every day. Let's assume that they have to review between 1/2 and 2/3 of that in order to pick out infringing content; that's 100000 seconds worth of video to be reviewed, every second.

    In order to review all of that content with minimal delays, they would need 100000 reviewers working at any one time. If those reviewers were being paid a mere $1 per hour, it would still cost YouTube $876 million a year in review costs ($100000/hr x 24 hrs/day x 365 days/year).

    The real costs to YouTube would be a lot more than this. For starters, competent reviewers would most likely cost a lot more that $1 per hour. There would be small delays between watching each video, meaning that more reviewers would be needed. There are also management costs, the costs of implementing the review system, etc. The true costs are more likely to be upwards of $5 billion a year.

    And that's just YouTube. I'm not even thinking about sites like Facebook, MySpace, Vimeo, web forums, etc. The total cost to the tech industry would be hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and that's just to keep the legitimate sites running. Piracy might drop slightly, but illegitimate sites would still continue to run in dark corners of the web, and would still drive the vast majority of the world's piracy.

    SOPA is not going to stop piracy. It's barely going to make a dent. And yet it will cost legitimate web sites billions of dollars a year, just so they can avoid being blocked or having their revenue streams cut off. This is why SOPA should be stopped dead in its tracks.

  • RIAA Admits It Wants DMCA Overhaul; Blames Judges For 'Wrong' Interpretation

    NZgeek ( profile ), 08 Nov, 2011 @ 07:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Gold Star~!

    YouTube does not choose the content - the users who upload it do. No human at YouTube has any knowledge of the content of the video that was uploaded. Any processing that happens to it is fully automated, and requires no manual intervention.

    *THIS* is the reason why YouTube qualifies for safe harbor. They have no knowledge that the uploaded material is infringing. As long as they remove anything that's pointed out to them, they're safe.

    It doesn't matter how much automated processing YouTube does on the video, how they present the uploaded video, whether advertising was inserted by any means... The ONLY important thing is that nobody at YouTube knew that the video had infringing content.

    And you can't just say "YouTube should be able to automatically identify infringing content and stop it being shown." The human brain is incredibly good at pattern matching, a million miles beyond what any computer program can do at present. In other words, there is no 100% effective way to detect infringing content. Even 20% accuracy is pushing the envelope with current technology.

    Anonymous Coward: It is currently impossible for any site to prevent its users from uploading infringing content without having a human review *everything* that is uploaded. This requires hiring enough staff to review all of the content, which increases the costs to the business. Small start-ups may not be able to afford the additional costs, killing innovation. Existing companies would have to curtail user uploads if they could not afford to hire enough people to review everything at a reasonable pace, again killing innovation.

    Think of YouTube for a bit. With 48 hours of video being uploaded every second, they'd need to have roughly 172,800 reviewers active *every second of the day* in order to keep up. Assuming that each person works 8 hours a day, they'd need more than half a million reviewers on payroll. If each reviewer was paid $US10K a year, that would come to more than $US5,000,000,000. That's right: five billion US dollars a year, just paying for reviewers. Is it really fair to lump that cost onto YouTube?

  • California Politician Discovers That You Can't Ban Specific Type Of Music; Admits 'I Didn't Know What Was Going On'

    NZgeek ( profile ), 30 Oct, 2011 @ 04:53pm

    Re: Let's do the math...

    They don't even say that she died *because* she had taken drugs. They only say that she had "ecstasy in her system", which is a completely different thing. Correlation does not equal causality.

    Oh well, another day, another knee-jerk reaction from a clueless politician.

  • Steve Jobs Was Willing To 'Rip Off' Everyone Else… But Was Pissed About Android Copying iPhone?

    NZgeek ( profile ), 24 Oct, 2011 @ 07:45pm

    Re: Re:

    It's commonly known that Eric Schmidt recused himself from board meeting while the iPhone was being discussed. He might have known that an Apple phone was coming, but that was probably about it.

    If he'd known any more than this, I'm sure that Schmidt and Google would already have been the target of a very large Apple lawsuit.

  • As Countries Sign ACTA, Many Finally Admit Their Copyright Laws Will Need To Change

    NZgeek ( profile ), 03 Oct, 2011 @ 02:25pm

    As a New Zealander, I'm glad that there will be some review and public consultation before the treaty is ratified. This at least gives us a chance to tell the government why this "trade agreement" is simply a money-grab by the big multi-nationals.

    Who am I kidding? Our government has a history of ignoring what the people say. I don't expect this to be any different.

  • Is Yahoo Blocking People From Sending Any Email That Mentions

    NZgeek ( profile ), 20 Sep, 2011 @ 07:07pm

    Re: Re:

    I'd say that this is the most likely reason. The anti-spam filter is probably checking the IP address of linked sites, and spam-binning emails that point to known spam sites. doesn't have an A record (IP address), AAAA record (IPv6 adress) or CNAME record (pointer to a different site name). The correct web site address is, which has a valid A record.

    Given that there was no valid way to resolve (without the "www."), the spam filter probably decided that this was a spam site that's since been taken down, and treated it as such.

    Note that this doesn't need any human intervention, just an incorrect assumption on the part of the programmers of the spam filter.

  • CBO Says PROTECT IP Will Cost Taxpayers Over $10 Million Per Year To Censor The Internet

    NZgeek ( profile ), 18 Aug, 2011 @ 05:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Where does Mike talk about companies dissolving and moving overseas? He doesn't.

    Mike addressed who was affected by PROTECT IP:

    * Non-US companies may be affected, because their domains will effectively become invisible to US citizens.

    * US companies may be affected, notably those that run DNS servers. Implementing PROTECT IP will require updates to DNS software/hardware, and there will be other ongoing costs of compliance.

    Never mind that all of these measures can be worked around by simply using a different DNS server. (PROTECT IP works in the same way as unlisting a number from the phone book. If you can't turn a name into a number, you can't make the call. The workaround is like using a 3rd party phone book, one which still has the number listed.) So in other words, PROTECT IP will cost a lot, but won't do anything to protect intellectual property.

  • Court Ruling Opens The Door To Rejecting Many Software Patents As Being Mere 'Mental Processes'

    NZgeek ( profile ), 17 Aug, 2011 @ 09:37pm

    Re: The laugh is on Google, then, ain't it?

    Not all of Motorola's patents will be software. Anything that deals with controlling the underlying phone hardware will most likely still be valid.

    It'll be interesting to see how this ruling affects things. The "do XYZ, but with a computer" patents and their kind are obvious sitting ducks, but what about patents that relate to user interfaces? Or simple storage of data?

    (As a developer, I'd like to see all software patents go. After all, code is simply a bunch of mathematical algorithms, and they aren't patentable.)

  • Patent Loving Court Strikes Again: CAFC Orders USPTO To Reconsider NTP Patents It Had Rejected

    NZgeek ( profile ), 05 Aug, 2011 @ 03:24pm

    Re: Presumption of validity

    Once upon a time, the USPTO had enough competent staff that it was safe to assume all issued patents are valid. However, with the number of patentable areas growing (e.g. software, business models) and the number of applications increasing like crazy, more and more questionable (or downright invalid) patents are being issued.

    Just look at the study that found 30% of patents covered by other older patents. That 30% are clearly invalid (in whole, our at least in part), yet they were still issued by the supposedly infallible USPTO.

    I don't mind the presumption of validity, as long as that presumption is grounded in reality. That's clearly no longer the case.

  • Dutch Journalist In Legal Trouble For Showing How New Transit Card Is Easy To Defraud

    NZgeek ( profile ), 02 Aug, 2011 @ 10:02pm

    When will companies realise that "security through obscurity" just doesn't work. As soon as anyone finds a hole, that security is gone. Even if the finder is gagged, the fact that there is a hole will lead others to find it.

    Instead of bringing lawsuits, the transporation companies should be spending that money to find a real fix for the problem. One that will stand up to public scrutiny.

  • Washed Up On The 'Jersey Shore': The 'Original DJ Paulie' Sues DJ Pauly D

    NZgeek ( profile ), 05 Jul, 2011 @ 08:48pm


    >> Wouldn't a judge say that "DJ Paulie" and "DJ Paulie D" are distinguishable and toss this out?

    The names can be distinguished, but are still very similar. Your average "moron in a hurry" would almost definitely confuse the two, and that's what trademarks are there to protect against.

  • Apple Launches Nuclear Patent Counterstrike On Nokia

    NZgeek ( profile ), 14 Dec, 2009 @ 02:31pm

    Re: Re: Competing in the marketplace?

    "Nokia has lost in the court of technology. They didn't see the smartphone coming, and are now way behind."

    What are you talking about? Nokia had smartphones on the market several years before Apple even thought about the iPhone. They all run Symbian, which still holds the highest market share of any smartphone OS.

    The only thing you can credit Apple for is making smartphones consumer-friendly. They took what was largely existing technology and slapped a nice coat of paint on top of it. They then spent a fortune on marketing and making the device "cool", and now it has a mass following.

    Sure, the iPhone is a great device. It does what most people want, in a way that's easy to learn. But from a technology standpoint it's well behind the curve, and Apple's policy on what apps they allow on the store is arbitrary at best. You're pretty much locked in to doing what Apple want, in the way they want you to do it. I just can't stand that.

  • Surprise, Surprise: Blu-Ray Still Not Catching On

    NZgeek ( profile ), 23 Jun, 2009 @ 08:29pm

    I'm surprised that nobody has pointed out yet that there are separate figures for PS3 and standalone Blu-ray players. If you look at the combined figures, market penetration of Blu-ray has gone up from ~9% to ~16%. Considering the price of Blu-ray hardware and the current economic market, this isn't too bad.

    And while streaming HD video may be the future, it's very much the distant future. For this to work, high speed (20Mbps+) internet connections will need to be the norm, and backbones will need enough bandwidth to serve all of the different video streams. It will be several years before the US and western Europe get to this point, and until then physical media will still be an absolute necessity.

  • Teen Gets 23 Years In Jail For Killing His Mom; Judge, AP Blame Video Games

    NZgeek ( profile ), 17 Jun, 2009 @ 03:18pm


    Even if there is a link between violent people and video games, why do people always assume that the game is at fault? Has nobody ever heard of causality?

    There are 2 possible ways to look at such a link:

    (1) Playing violent video games made the guy think that it was ok to kill.
    (2) The guy already had violent tendencies, and playing the violent games was simply a symptom of an underlying problem.

    Even though option 2 is far more likely to be true, it doesn't make for good news. With the media always writing the "version of the truth" that sells best, it's no wonder that so many people think that violent games are the problem.

  • Blame Game Continues: Now It's Online Streaming That's Killing Music

    NZgeek ( profile ), 09 Mar, 2009 @ 03:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "Radio stations that lose money still pay artists fees, they don't get to just forward part of their bottom line and call it even."

    This is fine for terrestrial radio stations, as they require a lot of capital investment that will be lost if they shut down. Online radio stations require little investment, and can close their doors a lot easier.

    I completely disagree that the artists' fees should be fixed. Doing so simply puts a hard barrier on the ability of a streaming radio station to operate. This means that there are fewer stations, and fewer opportunities for music to be heard.

    The only reason for publishers to impose fixed fees is to generate short-term profits. Nobody bothers to look to the mid- or long-term, which is why the music industry is failing so badly.

    "The artists work doesn't lose value at a set point in time."

    This is true, but you do have to put in place some sort of arbitrary cut-off point. Should Beethoven's descendants be making money off his music, just because it's still popular?

    Taking your example of Stairway to Heaven, have Led Zeppelin been fairly compensated for their creation? I would definitely argue that they have. Would they have still created the song if they knew it'd become public domain in 20/30 years? We can't say for certain, but the answer is probably yes.

    Copy right is not, and was never meant to be, a steady life-long income source. If you think that it is, your mind is poisoned and you need to go back and look at the history of copyright. It has only become what it is today because of greed, pure and simple.

  • Blame Game Continues: Now It's Online Streaming That's Killing Music

    NZgeek ( profile ), 09 Mar, 2009 @ 02:30pm

    Re: Re:

    My reasoning for radio stations paying royalties is that they are making money off someone else's work. Nobody would listen to a radio station that played ads 24/7. For the vast majority of radio stations, music is the reason that people tune in. If a station is generating enough revenue to cover all of their own costs, why shouldn't they pay the musicians that helped them make that profit?

    The Pirate Bay is probably not the best analogy to use here. Yes, they get some advertising revenue form their site, but they're not directly using third party content to get people in. They act as a general repository of links to third-party content, which may or may not be available.

    Roading isn't a suitable analogy either. Roads exist as a public utility in order to assist transport, and are paid for by taxpayers. Automobile manufacturers can certainly exist without roads - just take 4x4 vehicles as an example. Roads simply make the use of automobiles more convenient.

  • Blame Game Continues: Now It's Online Streaming That's Killing Music

    NZgeek ( profile ), 09 Mar, 2009 @ 01:37pm

    Preemptive retort to Weird Harold:

    Yes, the artists should be fairly compensated for their creation, but new and innovative techniques are no impediment to that.

    If the streaming radio station is making a profit, a fair portion of that can go to paying the artists, and some money is better than no money. It's also a way for the artists to get heard, which can then lead to other avenues of income (e.g. album sales).

    People need to stop thinking of copyright as an income-generating tool for artists. It is, but only in a limited sense. It is supposed to encourage creative expression by fairly compensating an artist for their work. It is a limited-time monopoly on the reproduction of that work for this reason only. It is not a form of income in perpetuity.

  • Those Who Don't Understand The Value Of Free Information Are Doomed To Fail

    NZgeek ( profile ), 08 Mar, 2009 @ 09:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    @Weird Harold (March 5th @ 3:52pm)

    Let's have a look at the maths again, this time without wonky assumptions.

    For the concert situation, let's assume that the band's net profit from ticket sales is $5 per seat per show. For an 80 show tour, averaging 20,000 seats per venue, that's $8 million in net profit.

    Now we'll look at song sales. Let's assume that the song sells for $1, and the artist (who's also the composer) gets a generous 25% for their cut. That's $0.25 per song.

    At that rate, the artist needs to sell 32 million copies of their songs to make as much money as a the concert tour. This number doesn't take into account the profits from merchandising that can be sold during the tour.

    I'm not forgetting any royalties that would be made from radio play. If someone's music is being used to generate profit for a 3rd party, that party should be required to pay a reasonable licensing fee. That money will be made whether or not songs are sold or given away for free, so doesn't count in any equations.

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