Episode 134

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Microsoft ad has Mac users up in arms | Australian IT
Microsoft ad has Mac users up in arms


MACINTOSH users in the US have been getting steamed up in recent weeks about a Microsoft advertisements that point out how much cheaper many Windows PCs, especially notebooks, are than Macs.

They reckon Microsoft is being unfair.

In the opening ad a bouncy young woman goes shopping for a 17in notebook with a $US1000 ($1390) limit. In one of those glass-palace Apple Stores she finds that will only buy a 13in MacBook.


States vie to be broadband base | Australian IT
States vie to be broadband base

 A THREE-WAY squabble over Kevin Rudd’s broadband bonanza has erupted, with the Victorian and NSW governments yesterday countering Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s pitch that Brisbane is the best place to base the $43 billion cable rollout.

Ms Bligh said last week.

“It will also show that the federal Government understands the opportunity for decentralisation that this technology offers.

Optus is in Sydney, Telstra in Melbourne; why not (have) NBN Corp in Brisbane?”

NSW Premier Nathan Rees also made a play for the network headquarters, claiming that “only NSW has the talent pool to provide the skills necessary for successful implementation”.

Four found guilty in landmark Pirate Bay case – CNN.com
Four found guilty in landmark Pirate Bay case

 Sweden (CNN) — Four men behind a Swedish file-sharing Web site used by millions to exchange movies and music have been found guilty of collaborating to violate copyright law in a landmark court verdict in Stockholm.

The four defendants — Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi and Carl Lundstrom, three founders and one patron of The Pirate Bay — were sentenced to one year in jail and also ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) in damages to several major media companies including Warner Brothers, Columbia, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony BMG and EMI.

The defendants are free without restrictions while they appeal the judgment.

When Dreamworks studio demanded that the site act over file-sharing of Dreamworks’ movie “Shrek 2,” The Pirate Bay threatened to sue for harassment and lodge a formal complaint “for sending frivolous legal threats.”

“It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are … morons,” the response continued, suggesting that studio representatives perform a sexual act. The response closed with an obscenity.

Site owners dismissed the effects of a police raid in 2006, saying the site had been down longer on other occasions due to illness or drunkenness than when “the U.S. and Swedish government forces the police to steal our servers … yawn.”

Friday’s verdict did not include an order to shut down The Pirate Bay site.

Google offers free music downloads in China – CNN.com
Google offers free music downloads in China


That’s the idea behind Google’s latest move to allow users to download free music in China. Google has partnered with a Chinese company, Top100.cn, to make it happen.

About 140 music labels have joined in, including the “Big Four” — EMI Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music.

Most Chinese users get their music for free anyway, thanks to rampant online piracy. Google and its partners hope the new business model will generate revenue from advertising that all will share. More importantly, Google wants to increase traffic and catch up to its competitor Baidu.

“We will provide free, high-quality, legal downloads,” Google China President Li Kaifu

  • Google free music in China averaging 1.5 million downloads
  • Rather than fight piracy, record labels seek slice of online advertising revenues
  • Google aims to take market share from Chinese search giant Baidu
  • Plans to make more than a million songs free

Digging up dirt: Facebook spies for hire – web – Technology – smh.com.au
Digging up dirt: Facebook spies for hire


Large companies and government departments are employing a new Sydney-based company to dig up dirt on staff by spying on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube posts.

SR7 specialises in “online risk and reputation management” and claims to be the only company in Australia that actively monitors social networking sites on behalf of companies.

It was formed about eight months ago in response to the growing trend for people to take conversations they would have traditionally had with mates at the pub on to their social network profiles.

Few people realise these seemingly private sites are still public spaces. If controversial posts leak to the media, it can lead to brands suffering immense damage to their reputations.

Parents to compare schools via net | Australian IT
Parents to compare schools via net

 PARENTS will be able to compare their child’s school with others on a website providing information on student characteristics, test results and sources of income under a proposal being considered by the nation’s education ministers.

based on the West Australian website Schools Online that lists details of every public school in the state.

Some good stats here – would like this in Qld definately

3 goes roaming | Australian IT
3 goes roaming

 3 MOBILE has switched on 3G roaming on Telstra’s Next G network, expanding its network coverage to 96 per cent of the population.

only customers with compatible handsets that work on both the 2100MHz frequency used by 3 and the 850MHz frequency used by Telstra’s Next G network, such as Nokia’s 6120 and the BlackBerry Bold, will be able access the new roaming zones.

Customers on 3’s pre-paid data plans are charged $2 per megabyte. OUCH!!

Heroes free on net: Seven | Australian IT
Heroes free on net: Seven

 FOR the first time, Australians will be able to watch a marquee US television show on the internet — legally and for free — before it screens on TV

the season opener of sci-fi drama Heroes available on its Yahoo7 website a week before the broadcast launch date of April 23.

Fans will then be able to watch episodes of Heroes online after they go to air.

All five free-to-air networks are in discussions about launching a joint catch-up TV website under the auspices of their Freeview digital TV marketing brand by the end of the year.

General manager of media Kath Hamilton said Yahoo7 “Australia has one of the highest per capita download rates in the world,” Ms Hamilton said.

“We don’t like to wait around for our telly.

Windows Mobile 6.5 to officially “launch” on May 11
Windows Mobile 6.5 to officially “launch” on May 11

 With an endless chain of leaks dating back several months, the suspense factor might not be there that Microsoft had been hoping for — but for what it’s worth, Windows Mobile 6.5 is now official. The latest rendition of Microsoft’s mobile platform puts an emphasis on touch-friendliness with a honeycomb-style main menu that the company says is easier to finger than a traditional grid layout; a new lock screen that can be slid on different alerts to automatically call up texts, voicemails, and so on; a thoroughly-restyled cut of Internet Explorer Mobile that features a touchable zoom slider and frequently-used commands; redesigned menus that don’t need a stylus to actuate; fingerable home and contacts screens, and more. It’s not the thorough gutting of the platform many were hoping for, but for anyone thinking that Windows Mobile 6.1 can stand another facelift without ending up looking like Joan Rivers, 6.5’s clearly your baby. Sadly, Microsoft’s saying that no devices in the market today will receive official 6.5 updates, but don’t pull out your wallets just yet, though — the first devices with Windows Mobile 6.5 preinstalled should be available in the fourth quarter of the year.





 La Machine: Giant Robot Spiders in Yokohama (pics/video)
Giant robot spider in Yokohama (pics/ video)

All News, Videos, & Images
2008 “Worst Year” In Fortune 500 History

2008 was the worst year in the history of the Fortune 500 for America’s largest companies. From $645 billion in profits in 2007, profits dropped this year to just $98.9 billion – an 84.7 percent decline! Eleven of the top 25 largest corporate losses in list history took place last year.

Apple iTunes Movies not compatible with PS3. WHAT THE?

BBC NEWS | Health | 1970s lifestyle ‘protects planet’
1970s lifestyle ‘protects planet’

Getting back to the relatively slim, trim days of the 1970s would help to tackle climate change, researchers say.

The rising numbers of people who are overweight and obese in the UK means the nation uses 19% more food than 40 years ago, a study suggests.

That could equate to an extra 60 mega tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the team calculated.

Transport costs of a fatter population were also included in the International Journal of Epidemiology study.

Dr Phil Edwards, study leader and researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said they had set out to calculate what the UK energy consumption would be if the weight of the population was put back a few decades.


Staying slim is good for health and for the environment

Dr Phil Edwards

A “normal” adult population, where only 3.5% are classed as obese, was compared with a population where 40% are obese.

These populations reflect the proportions of overweight and obese people living in the UK in the 1970s – and what is predicted for the UK in 2010, the researchers said.

In addition to calculating the increased food costs of the heavier population, the team worked out how much additional fuel would be needed for transportation of modern-day UK compared with the 1970s version.

Greenhouse gas emissions from food production and car travel in the fatter population would be between 0.4 to 1 giga tonnes higher per 1bn people, they estimated.


And people are generally bigger than they were three decades ago.

Between 1994 and 2004, the average male body mass index (BMI) in England increased from 26 to 27.3, with the average female BMI rising from 25.8 to 26.9 which equates to about 3 kg – or half a stone – heavier.

“This is not really just about obese people, the distribution of the whole population is what’s important,” said Dr Edwards.

“Everybody is getting a bit fatter.”

“Staying slim is good for health and for the environment.

“We need to be doing a lot more to reverse the global trend towards fatness, and recognise it as a key factor in the battle to reduce emissions and slow climate change.”

It is not just a UK issue – in nearly every country in the world, the average BMI is rising.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health said shifting the population weight distribution back to that of the 1970s would do quite a lot to help the planet.

“In the 1970s we had bigger portions of vegetables and smaller portions of meat and there’s been a shift in the amount of exercise we do.

“All these things are combining to hurt the planet and this is a calculation that deserves a bit more attention,” he said.


Aussie inventor wins over Microsoft | Australian IT
Aussie inventor wins over Microsoft

AN Australian inventor is set to share in a damages payout of more than $500 million after a US court ruled that Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, infringed a patented technology used to deter software piracy.

Uniloc founder Ric Richardson, who divides his time between Sydney and California, alleged Microsoft made billions of dollars by using his technology in its Windows XP and Office programs.

The payout, the fifth-largest patent jury award in US history, could increase three-fold because jurors ruled the infringement was intentional.

The $US388 million ($537 million) payout equals about eight days’ profit for Microsoft.

Singapore-based Uniloc first sued Microsoft in 2003, alleging it copied software designed by Mr Richardson, who conceived the patented technology while he was working as a sound equipment programmer for bands.

Microsoft’s Windows software is used in about 95 per cent of the world’s personal computers.

Microsoft said it was “very disappointed in the jury verdict”, delivered last week, and that it planned to appeal.

“We believe that we do not infringe, that the patent is invalid and that this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported,” Microsoft spokesman David Bowermaster said. “We will ask the court to overturn the verdict.”

The patent, which Mr Richardson obtained in the 1990s, covers a software registration system aimed at preventing “casual copying”, whereby a user installs a programmer on more computers than permitted, according to court documents.

Uniloc argued Mr Richardson showed his program to Microsoft in 1993 on the proviso that the computer giant would not try to break the code or duplicate it.

Uniloc claimed that in 1997 or 1998, Microsoft breached this agreement and began using similar software in its pilot programs.

Microsoft denied any breach, arguing it had developed a different system after deciding Uniloc’s software was of no use.

Mr Richardson also designed the “shade saver” cords used to keep sunglasses attached to the wearers.

Mr Richardson had yet to make a statement but used his Twitter site to air his reaction to the ruling: “Dear friends (sic) … and family … it’s official. We won the case with Microsoft … and a $388 million verdict.”

Mr Richardson used profits from the shade saver invention to fund his Uniloc venture.

While he remains one of the largest shareholders, Mr Richardson has stepped down as a director of Uniloc, according to documents lodged with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission lodged in January this year,

Stockholm court jails The Pirate Bay founders | Australian IT
Stockholm court jails The Pirate Bay founders

A SWEDISH court found four men guilty Friday of promoting copyright infringement by running The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s top illegal filesharing websites, sentencing them to a year in prison in a landmark ruling.

The court also ordered the four — Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstroem — to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($4.91 million) to the movie and recording industry, which hailed the conviction as a symbolic victory.

“The Stockholm district court has today convicted the four people charged with promoting other people’s infringement of copyright laws,” the court said in a statement on Friday.

“We are of course going to appeal,” defence lawyer Per Samuelsson told Swedish Radio.

The effect the verdict will have on the website was not immediately known, but The Pirate Bay founders vowed to carry on.

“Don’t worry, nothing will change for The Pirate Bay, neither for us nor for filesharing,” Mr Sunde wrote on the community website Twitter, Swedish news agency TT reported.

A comment posted on The Pirate Bay’s website read: “As in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing Hollywood ever taught us.”

Representatives of the movie, music and video games industry had sought some 117 million kronor in damages and interest for alleged losses incurred from tens of millions of illegal downloads facilitated by the site.

The verdict topped headlines around the world and immediately prompted a flurry of comments on internet blogs and community websites.

Forrester Research analyst Mark Mulligan raised the possibility that the Swedish court’s ruling could affect other websites including giant search engine Google.

“There are some interesting implications from this ruling, most notably the question of whether Google could now be held responsible for posting links to content that does not have copyright cleared,” he wrote on The Music Ally blog.

Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.

None of the material can thus be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.

The Pirate Bay claims to have some 22 million users worldwide.

“By providing a website with… well-developed search functions, easy uploading and storage possibilities, and with a tracker linked to the website, the accused have incited the crimes that the filesharers have committed,” the court said in a statement.

A filesharing researcher at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, Daniel Johansson, called it a landmark ruling.

“For Sweden and Europe it’s the most important case ever when it comes to filesharing,” he told AFP, recalling the Napster trial in the United States.

He added that the verdict could contribute to tighter controls on internet usage.

IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, hailed the court’s decision.

“This is good news for everyone, in Sweden and internationally, who is making a living or a business from creative activity and who needs to know their rights will protected by law,” IFPI chairman and chief executive John Kennedy said.

Mr Mulligan however pointed out that file sharing will not go away with a new threat coming from non-network sharing via Instant Messenger, email, blogs and iPod ripping.

During the trial, the four had maintained that filesharing services can be used both legally and illegally.

One of the defence lawyers, Per Samuelsson, had argued that The Pirate Bay’s services “can be compared to making cars that can be driven faster than the speed limit.”

Another defence lawyer, Jonas Nilsson, had insisted that “the individual internet users who use Pirate Bay services… must answer for the material they have in their possession or the files they might share with others.”

Swedish police raided the company’s offices several times and seized nearly 200 servers in 2006, temporarily shuttering the site. But it resurfaced a few days later with servers spread among different countries.

The site is still in operation.

Obama names first US chief technology officer | Australian IT
Obama names first US chief technology officer

Obama names first US chief technology officer | Australian IT

US President Barack Obama has named a Harvard-educated Indian-American to the newly created post of chief technology officer in an appointment much-awaited by Silicon Valley.

US President Barack Obama has named a Harvard-educated Indian-American to the newly created post of chief technology officer in an appointment much-awaited by Silicon Valley.

As the country’s first CTO, Aneesh Chopra, 36, will use technology to “improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs,” Mr Obama said in his weekly address to the nation.

“In this role, Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities — from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure,” the president added.

Mr Chopra, whose background is in health policy, has served as secretary of technology for the state of Virginia and as an executive in a company which advises hospitals.

Mr Obama said Mr Chopra would work closely with chief information officer Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy and federal technology spending, which amounts to more than $US70 billion a year.

The appointment of the relatively unknown Mr Chopra came as somewhat of a surprise in technology circles, where speculation over the past three months had focused on more high-profile candidates.

Mr Chopra’s name was not even listed among the choices in an online poll of readers by the technology blog TechCrunch which asked who should be appointed to the job.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos were among the top vote-getters in the poll.

Mr Obama pledged during his presidential campaign to create the position of chief technology officer, and there had been some speculation it would be a cabinet-level position but that turned out not to be the case.

Mr Obama ran the most technology-savvy political campaign in US history, leveraging social networks, email, text messages and other media to build a vast fundraising and political operation.

But hopes that the president can unleash a technology revolution and create a new e-White House in government have come up against antiquated government technology and privacy and security restrictions.

As Virginia’s secretary of technology, Mr Chopra was responsible for applying technology to government reform, innovation and economic development and served as an advisor to Governor Tim Kaine.

Before taking the state government position, Mr Chopra was managing director of the Advisory Board Company, a publicly-traded health care think tank serving nearly 2500 hospitals and health systems.

Mr Chopra earned his undergraduate degree from John Hopkins University and a masters in public policy from Harvard University. 

Telstra staff on notice after Twitter gaffe | Australian IT
Telstra staff on notice after Twitter gaffe

AFTER being embarrassed by one of its employees on micro-blogging site Twitter, Telstra will today release a new policy governing how staff can talk about the company online, even in private conversations.

Its so-called social media “guardrails” require employees to identify themselves as working for Telstra and to not say anything that might damage the company or its commercial interests.

But rather than deterring discussion of the telecommunications group by its staff, the policy is designed to encourage it, says David Quilty, group managing director of public policy and communications.

“The typical restrictive corporate approach would be to say that if you are not authorised you should stay silent. We came to the conclusion that would be unrealistic and in the long term unproductive,” he told Media.

“It’s a case of let’s give some … guardrails so people have confidence about what they can do. Otherwise (they will) presume they’re not allowed to say anything. It actually empowers people.”

Telstra suffered a PR upset last month when one of its employees, emerging technology specialist Leslie Nassar, outed himself as the author of a popular Twitter feed called “Fake Stephen Conroy”. His posts anonymously lampooned the federal Communications Minister, who supervises Telstra’s sector.

Mr Nassar said he had been fired after the revelation but reinstated almost immediately.

Telstra had been developing the guardrails, helped by US social media marketing agency Converseon, since November, predating the Fake Stephen Conroy incident, Mr Quilty said.

He said the new rules would not necessarily outlaw such activity.

“What we’re saying is you need to be mindful as an employee you aren’t going out to damage the company,” he said. “It doesn’t say you can’t say anything that is critical.”

The policy also allows employees to use services provided by Telstra, such as email and internet access, for personal use during work time “within reasonable limits”.

“If you don’t get your job done because you’re on Facebook all day, that is not what we want to happen,” Mr Quilty said.

According to Telstra’s “three Rs of social media engagement”, employees must declare they represent Telstra; take responsibility for ensuring any references to Telstra are factually correct, accurate and don’t breach confidentiality requirements; and show respect for the individuals and communities with which they interact.

The rules apply to all types of blogs, video and photo-sharing websites, discussion forums and message boards, online encyclopaedias such as Wikipedia, “and any other websites that allow individual users or companies to use simple publishing tools”.

Employees found to be in breach of the policy would face disciplinary action under Telstra’s “performance improvement and conduct management” process, involving a verbal or written warning, counselling and, in serious cases, the sack.

Telstra was the first big Australian company to produce such a policy, Mr Quilty said.

“It’s a bit of a ‘suck it and see’ because there is no one we could use as a guide in Australia,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how people in the online sites themselves react to it.”

MySpace logs on to phone charging | Australian IT
MySpace logs on to phone charging

AN application developed for MySpace that enables people to recharge their pre-paid mobile phone credit from the social networking website is becoming a new source of e-commerce and advertising revenue.

But the Recharge application, announced last month, could also raise privacy concerns as it effectively allows the mobile carrier to get the personal details of users from their public profiles for use in marketing programs.

The data is used to help the carrier — and could be used to help other brands — to target their marketing campaigns more effectively. MySpace business development director Nick Love said the social networking site (owned by News Corporation, which also owns The Australian) received a commission from sales associated with the application.

“Seventy per cent of Australian mobile (users) are pre-paid,” Mr Love said. “One of the fastest growing channels for topping up your phone (credit) is online.

“But just selling pre-paid credit is never going to move the needle in any great way. What is unique is it’s integrated into a telco’s customer relationship marketing.”

More than 5000 people had already installed the application last month, half of them customers of Optus. “All of a sudden we have insights into what the Optus pre-paid customer is like,” Mr Love said, adding people could then be grouped according to their interests and demographic data and targeted with offers such as free credit and other incentives to drive sales.

The concept could also be extended to cross-sell pre-paid wireless broadband and mobile data packs, as well as being extended to third-party brands.

“We could start working with brands such as Coke if they wanted to launch a new soft drink targeting 13 to 18-year-old boys, for example,” Mr Love said.

“It’s also greater value for our users,” he said. “If they’re getting greater value, there’s greater reason to come to MySpace.”

The application could raise privacy concerns as public profile information can include information such as sex, age and home town, as well as favourite bands and other details.

Mr Love said the program only used the public data on users’ profiles and did not allow telcos to match individuals to personal details in breach of privacy laws.

“If the reward is relevant (to a MySpace user), I don’t think they’ll mind as long as we’re not doing (the targeting) to an individual level.”

MySpace is hoping to bring in advertisers that sell anything that can be offered online, including concert tickets and virtual vouchers that can be redeemed in stores. “When you buy a product in a certain retail chain you could be rewarded with $50 in free credit from Optus. We’d facilitate that purchase,” Mr Love said.

SKorea court clears blogger over economy rumours
SKorea court clears blogger over economy rumours

A South Korean court on Monday acquitted a blogger accused of causing the country huge financial losses by spreading misleading information on the economy.

Prosecutors had sought an 18-month prison term for Park Dae-Sung, 30 — better known by his Internet alias “Minerva” — while some media freedom groups criticised the decision to charge him.

Park was arrested in early January and charged with spreading online rumours that the government in late December ordered local banks not to buy US dollars as part of efforts to stabilise the won.

Prosecutors claimed the December posting led to dollar hoarding, forcing the government hurriedly to inject two billion US dollars to stabilise the currency market.

“Considering all the circumstances, it is hard to conclude that Park was aware the information was misleading when he wrote the postings,” said Judge Yoo Young-Hyun of Seoul Central District Court.

The judge said that even if Park had realised the information was false, it cannot be concluded he intended to damage the public interest, considering the circumstances at the time or the special characteristics of the foreign exchange market.

Park wrote more than 200 economic commentaries in recent months and gained a major following after correctly predicting the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers last September.

He also warned about the won’s sharp fall against the dollar and the local stock market crash.

At earlier court hearings, Park protested his innocence and said he was trying to help those who had suffered from the financial turmoil.

International media freedom group Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontieres) had backed his claim.

In a statement issued before Monday’s ruling, it said that some of Park’s comments were exaggerated, “but they were not responsible for the financial crisis that South Korea has suffered.”

Should Park receive a jail term, the judicial system “will have become an accomplice to a government strategy designed to intimidate Internet users who express their views on financial subjects,” the Paris-based group said.

Park had irritated the government with his sharp criticism of its economic policy and interventions in the foreign exchange market, but his identity for some time was a mystery.

“Minerva” was rumoured to be a retired financial market worker with a foreign degree given the technical accuracy of his work.

Prosecutors said he was in fact a jobless man whose knowledge of foreign exchange markets was acquired entirely through self-education after graduating from a two-year community college course in engineering.

His arrest reignited a debate over freedom of speech in cyberspace in South Korea, one of the world’s most wired nations.

Last summer, Internet rumours fuelled street mass protests against the lifting of a ban on US beef imports, and the demonstrations later took on an anti-government flavour.

Those who spread false reports or stories on the Internet can be sentenced to five years in prison or a fine of 50 million won (37,510 US dollars).

Last October a man who spread false Internet rumours that police raped a demonstrator during the beef protests was jailed for 10 months.


SKorea clears chipmakers of cartel charges
SKorea clears chipmakers of cartel charges

South Korea’s anti-trust watchdog said Monday it has found no evidence that leading chipmakers in South Korea and other countries colluded to fix prices.

The Fair Trade Commission said it closed a probe into allegations of a cartel operated by 10 makers of static random access memory (SRAM) chips in South Korea, Japan and the United States.

SRAM chips are used to store data in servers, switches and low-power devices such as mobile phones.

The two South Korean firms were Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest microchip maker, and Hynix Semiconductor.

The probe was launched in October 2006 to find out whether SRAM makers were involved in an international price-fixing scheme.

“We have found no evidence of a conspiracy,” Fair Trade Commission regulator Shin Bong-Sam told reporters.


Hundreds protest Pirate Bay convictions
Hundreds protest Pirate Bay convictions

Wearing bandanas and waving Jolly Roger flags, hundreds of supporters of file-sharing hub The Pirate Bay demonstrated on Saturday against a Swedish court’s conviction of the Internet site’s organisers.

The Stockholm district court on Friday sentenced Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom to one year in prison each for helping millions of Pirate Bay users commit copyright violations of movies, music and computer games.

The court also ordered them to pay 30 million kronor ($5 million) in damages to international entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures.

The entertainment industry applauded the move, calling it a landmark decision protecting the rights of those whose livelihood depend on creative activity.

All four defendants have vowed to appeal the verdict.

The rallies against “judicial murder” occurred in Stockholm, Goteborg, Karlstad and Lund and were organised by The Pirate Party. The political party, which supports free file-sharing for noncommercial use, said its membership rose by more than 20 percent to about 20,000 after the court announced its verdict.

Police spokeswoman Birgitta Nilsen said at least 500 mostly young people were protesting in Stockholm alone, many supporting the Pirate Bay defendants by wearing bandanas and carrying skull and crossbones flags.

The Pirate Party does not have any formal ties to The Pirate Bay, but has expressed its support of the site on several occasions.

Party Chairman and founder Rickard Falkvinge received loud cheers as he addressed the black-clad crowd at the Medborgarplatsen square in downtown Stockholm, demanding that the defendants to be freed from the charges.

“The establishment and the politicians have declared war against our whole generation,” he said, calling on “file-sharing for the people”.

The Pirate Bay doesn’t host copyright-protected material, but directs users to content through so-called torrent files. It has an estimated 22 million users worldwide.


Pirate Bay server becomes a tourist attraction
Pirate Bay server a tourist attraction

The server from the popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay confiscated in a police raid last year has gone on dislplay at Sweden’s National Museum of Science and Technology.

“This is an object of contemporary society and a museum collects such items,” curator Nils Olander told AFP.

“And it is a part of our mission as a museum not to avoid complicated questions,” he said.

The museum bought the server, a metallic grey box measuring about 20 centimetres wide, for $US240 from a member of the Bureau of Piracy, a Swedish group seeking the decriminalisation of filesharing, Olander said.

Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.

None of the material can thus be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.

The Pirate Bay claims to have some 22 million users worldwide.

The four men believed to behind the site have been charged in Stockholm with “promoting other people’s infringements of copyright laws,” with the prosecutor calling for one-year jail terms.

The Stockholm court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on Friday.


Wanted: Computer hackers … to help government
Wanted: Computer hackers … to help government

Wanted: Computer hackers.

Federal authorities aren’t looking to prosecute them, but to pay them to secure the nation’s networks.

General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could “think like the bad guy.” Applicants, it said, must understand hackers’ tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems.

In the Pentagon’s budget request submitted last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon will increase the number of cyberexperts it can train each year from 80 to 250 by 2011.

With warnings that the U.S. is ill-prepared for a cyberattack, the White House conducted a 60-day study of how the government can better manage and use technology to protect everything from the electrical grid and stock markets to tax data, airline flight systems, and nuclear launch codes.

President Barack Obama appointed a former Bush administration aide, Melissa Hathaway, to head the effort, and her report was delivered Friday, the White House said.

While the country had detailed plans for floods, fires or errant planes drifting into protected airspace, there is no similar response etched out for a major computer attack.

David Powner, director of technology issues for the Government Accountability Office, told Congress last month that the U.S. has no recovery plan for a digital disaster.

“We’re clearly not as prepared as we should be,” he said.

Administration officials says the U.S. has not kept pace with technological innovations needed to protect its computer networks against emerging threats from hackers, criminals or other nations looking for national security secrets.

U.S. computer networks, including those at the Pentagon and other federal agencies, are under persistent attack, ranging from nuisance hacking to more nefarious assaults, possibly from other nations, such as China. Industry leaders told Congress during a recent hearing that law enforcement and other protections are too outdated to fend off threats from criminals, terrorists and unfriendly foreign nations.

Just last week, a former government official revealed that spies had hacked into the U.S. electric grid and left behind computer programs that would let them disrupt service. The intrusions were discovered after electric companies gave the government permission to audit their systems, said the ex-official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Cyberthreats are also included as a key potential national security risk outlined in a classified report put together by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pentagon officials say they spent more than $100 million in the last six months responding to and repairing damage from cyberattacks and other computer network problems.

Nadia Short, vice president at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, said the job posting for ethical hackers fills a critical need for the government.

The analysts keep constant watch on the government networks as part of a program called Einstein that was initiated by the Bush administration under the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

Short said the $60 million, four-year contract with US-CERT uses the ethical hackers to analyze threats to the government’s computer systems and develop ways to reduce vulnerabilities.

Faced with such cyberchallenges, Obama ordered the 60-day review to examine how federal agencies manage and protect their massive amounts of data and what the government’s role should be in guarding the vast networks that control the country’s vital utilities and infrastructure.

US videogame sales slump in March
US videogame sales slump in March

US videogame sales fell 17 percent in March as the industry failed to escape the economic slowdown, according to figures released by the market research firm NPD Group.

Videogame sales dropped to 1.43 billion US dollars in March from 1.72 billion US dollars in the same month last year, NPD said.

Videogame software and videogame hardware sales were equally affected, according to the figures released by NPD on Thursday.

Videogame software sales fell 17 percent to 792.8 million US dollars while videogame hardware sales declined by 18 percent to 455.5 million US dollars.

Sales of videogame accessories were down 15 percent at 185.7 million US dollars.

Despite the drop in March, videogame sales were virtually unchanged for the quarter, NPD said, racking up 4.25 billion US dollars in the first three months of 2009 compared with 4.24 billion US dollars in the same quarter last year.

Nintendo’s Wii was the top-selling game platform in March with 601,000 units sold followed by Nintendo DS handheld console on sales of 563,000 units.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was next on sales of 330,000 units followed by Sony’s PlayStation 3 on sales of 218,000 units. Sony’s PSP handheld console sold 168,000 units in March.

Among game titles, Capcom USA’s “Resident Evil 5” was the top-selling game in March, selling 938,000 units for the Xbox and 585,000 for the PlayStation 3.

Nintendo’s “Pokemon Platinum Version” was next on sales of 805,000 units followed by Microsoft’s “Halo Wars” on sales of 639,000 units and Nintendo’s “Wii Fit” on sales of 541,000 units.



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