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ABC logoThe new series of Game of Thrones was released in the US last week, and even though it was broadcast in Australia on pay TV network Foxtel just two hours later, it was still torrented to buggery. Just how entitled are we?

I ended up discussing this very issue with Kate O’Toole on ABC 105.7 Darwin, and here’s the full audio of our conversation from 4 April 2013. Since I’m way behind schedule, I’ll leave this stand without further comment.

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The audio is ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but it isn’t published anywhere else and I don’t get paid so here it is.

Crikey logoMy Crikey story today on Telstra’s plan to trial the “shaping” of peer-to-peer internet traffic includes quotes from network engineer Mark Newton — but he said so many interesting things I though you should see his entire email.

Mark Newton writes:

From Telstra’s point of view, it’s a good thing: ISPs are a bit like electrical networks, in that they need to provision capacity for peak even though peak is only ever used for an hour or two per day (or, under adversity, a day or two per year: consider capacity planning for the ABC’s ISPs during flood events, or CNN on Sep 11 2001).

P2P users push the peak up, so in electrical network terms that’s like servicing a bunch of customers who leave their air conditioners on all the time.

Anything a telco can do to “squash” the peak is going to have an immediate impact on their bottom line.

If, by side effect, it inspires a bunch of the heaviest-using customers to migrate to other ISPs, that’ll reduce the profitability of those other ISPs and improve Telstra’s margins, so that’s a net positive. Why “fire” your worst customers when you can convince them to resign?

From a user’s point of view it’s more dismal, and the impact will depend on how Telstra uses their systems.

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The big internet-related story in Australia today was the High Court’s decision in the so-called #iiTrial. I wrote the lead story in Crikey — read that now for the facts and my analysis — and just spoke about it on ABC 702 Sydney.

The High Court decided, as outlined in its summary [PDF], that internet service provider iiNet was not responsible for the copyright-infringing acts of its customers. But as explained in their full decision, that decision was based on “all the facts of the case”. That is, things might have turned out differently had the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) or iiNet handled things differently. We’ll never know.

Since I wrote for Crikey, my ZDNet Australia colleague Josh Taylor has been tracking the reactions. I daresay there’ll be more to come across the weekend.

Now when I spoke to the ABC’s Richard Glover just after the 4pm news this afternoon — that’s the audio you’ll hear here — the scene was set first by Glover’s slightly-misleading introduction involving pubs and then AFACT’s managing director Neil Gane. So I was working within that framing. I’m not sure how well I did.

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Obviously time was limited. Had I had more time to speak, I would have said:

  • We do keep talking about the experience of the music industry, but that’s because they’re further down the path of replacing traditional distribution mechanisms with the internet. It might be worth the film and TV industries having a look at that and seeing what they can learn, rather than just being in denial.
  • Yes, the economics of making a big blockbuster movie are very different from making a music album. But the film industry decided to take the blockbuster path with all the expensive hangers-on that that business model entails. No-one is forcing them to do it that way.
  • With distribution costs tending to zero, those who run the traditional distribution models need one heck of a lot better argument to justify the amount of money they charge than “Oh no, it’s all different now”.
  • They talk about the industry being in decline, but that’s because they only count themselves. As a totality, people probably spend more on entertainment than they ever have done. It’s like the Myer and David Jones and Harvey Norman stores whinging about the decline of retail. No, retail overall is doing just fine. The bit that’s failing is them — the people doing things the same old way and not adapting to the change.
  • No business model has a right to exist. Maybe the age of big movies and big TV productions is over. It wouldn’t be the first time a form of entertainment had died because it was no longer viable, and it wouldn’t be the last.

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.

ABC logoI know, I know… So many of my posts recently have been about me doing media stuff elsewhere. But maybe that’s a good thing.

This morning I was one of the people interviewed in a story on ABC Radio National Breakfast about the recent Dutch legal decision against Mininova, a BitTorrent tracker site.

The story was produced by Oscar McLaren, and you can listen to it online.

Stilgherrian’s links for 30 March 2009 through 04 April 2009, gathered with the assistance of pumpkins and bees:

  • The Australian Sex Party: “The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.”
  • Measuring the Information Society: The ICT Development Index 2009: Australia is ranked #14 based on figures from 2007. In 2003 it was at #13.
  • Ho Hum, Sweden Passes new anti File Sharing Legislation | Perceptric Forum: Tom Koltai’s analysis of that new Swedish law: It’ll make no difference long term.
  • As Sweden’s Internet anonymity fades, traffic plunges | Ars Technica: A new Swedish law that went into effect 1 April makes it possible for copyright holders to go to court and unmask a user based on an IP address. Sweden’s Internet traffic dropped 40% overnight.
  • Study: online sexual predators not like popular perception | Ars Technica: This survey rejects the idea that the Internet is an especially perilous place for minors, and finds that while the nature of online sex crimes against minors changed little between 2000 and 2006, the profile of the offenders has been shifting — and both differ markedly from the popular conception.
  • What Is Fail Whale?: The complete history of the Twitter’s error-bringing Fail Whale, along with all the art and craft it’s inspired to date.
  • Voda/Hutch merger rattles ACCC | ZDNet Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog tonight issued a strongly worded statement of concern that the proposed merger of mobile carriers Hutchison and Vodafone could lead to increased retail prices on mobile telephony and broadband services.
  • All the news that’s fit to tweet | guardian.co.uk: The Guardian has also announced a new 140-character commenting system. “You’ll never again need to wade through paragraphs of extended argument, looking for the point, or suffer the unbearable tedium of having to read multiple protracted, well-grounded perspectives on the blogs you love.”
  • Share This Lecture! | Viddler.com: Mark Pesce’s annual lecture for “Cyberworlds” class, Sydney University, 31 March 2009. About the significance of sharing across three domains: sharing media, sharing knowledge, and how these two inevitably lead to the sharing of power.
  • Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink | The Guardian: One of the better April Fools’ Day pieces. I particularly like the extracts from the Twitterised news archive. 1927: “OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*”
  • Flappers, wine, cocaine and revels (Pt II) | The Vapour Trail: A few hours after five Melbourne girls were arrested for vagrancy in late March 1928, the headline of Melbourne’s Truth broadcast their misdeeds: “White Girls with Negro Lovers. Flappers, Wine, Cocaine and Revels. Raid Discloses Wild Scene of Abandon”.
  • A Blacklist for Websites Backfires in Australia | TIME: Time‘s take on the leak of the Australian Internet censorship blacklist portrays it as a joke and a scandal. There are some factual errors in the story, but this looks like how it’ll end up being perceived internationally.

Stilgherrian’s links for 25 February 2009 through 02 March 2009, gathered with gin and joy.

  • Information Commissioner Richard Thomas warns of surveillance culture | Times Online: Laws that allow officials to monitor the behaviour of millions of Britons risk “hardwiring surveillance” into the British way of life, the country’s privacy watchdog has warned.
  • Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers | New Scientist: “Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by,” says researcher Benjamin Edelman.
  • Chatham House Rule | Wikipedia: A rule for running a meeting where people can speak freely but their confidentiality is respected. The rule itself is: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” The Wikipedia article gives the background.
  • Australian Internet Filtering Debate at Kickstart 2009 | Midnight Update: A video of the Internet Filtering debate at Kickstart 09 from the weekend, including Bernadette McMenamin from Child Wise, Anthony Pillion from Webshield, Geordie Guy from EFA, and Mark Newton. I’ll write more upon this later, maybe.
  • Internet Study 2007 | ipoque: A report on the impact of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, Voice over IP, Skype, Joost, instant messaging, media streaming such as YouTube, from a traffic point of view.

Stilgherrian’s links for 12 January 2009 through 18 January 2009, gahered with care and moistened with love:

Crikey logo

[This article was first published in Crikey on Monday 5 January 2009, and the headline is theirs. Here it is for those folks too cheap-arsed to subscribe. I'll re-post my other recent Crikey material soon.]

The biggest criticism of the Rudd government’s plan to centrally censor the internet — apart from it being ill-defined, secretive, a potential human rights abuse, a great way to screw up broadband speeds, poorly planned, way behind schedule and tackling the problem of child sexual abuse in completely the wrong way — is that it won’t work. As Crikey has reported several times before. None of the filters tested in the first half of 2008 could touch peer-to-peer (P2P) networks like BitTorrent, which is where The Bad Stuff lives.

Just before Christmas, Senator Conroy tackled that last bit by declaring in a single sentence on his new blog: “Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial.” If so, it’s news to the ISPs who signed up. But then they haven’t been given official notification yet, and the trials were meant to start before Christmas. Ahem.

BitTorrent is easy to understand, provided you skip the brain-imploding technical details. Instead of everyone downloading the same big media file from a central server, causing congestion, the file is split up into lots of little pieces. As soon as you’ve download one random piece, your computer becomes a server, swapping the pieces you already have for the missing pieces downloaded by other users — your peers. Automatically. Eventually everyone gets all of the pieces, with the work shared amongst all the participants.

BitTorrent is incredibly efficient. As we reported in March, Norway’s national broadcaster NRK used BitTorrent to distribute a full HD TV program to 80,000 people for just US$350 in bandwidth and storage charges.

Yesterday [Sunday], Crikey showed NRK project manager Eirik Solheim reports of Conroy’s plan.

“Wow!” he said. “A minister that is actively working to limit your country’s ability to distribute information and compete globally… If he plans to block BitTorrent traffic in general that would be a serious limitation to people’s ability to distribute content, creativity, ideas and information.”

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Crikey logo

[This article was first published in Crikey yesterday. I've added some follow-up comments at the end.]

Let’s sing along with Senator Conroy! You’ve got to accentuate the positive / Eliminate the negative / Latch on to the affirmative…

[On Monday] our Minister for Broadband was “encouraged” that lab tests of ISP-level Internet filters showed “significant progress” since 2005, and The Australian had him declaring the trial a success. But if you actually dig into the full report [2.8MB PDF] things aren’t so rosy.

Yes, on average filters might be more accurate than three years ago and have less impact on Internet speeds — well, at least for the six filters actually tested of the 26 put forward. But it’s about them being not quite as crap as before.

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Podcasting is now far, far easier and cheaper even than I’d imagined — even for complex productions. I’ve been experimenting. Here’s a very quick summary of what I’ve learned so far about doing this on a Mac, my platform of choice.

Now if your podcast is just you talking then you can take a much simpler approach. Read no further.

However this investigation was inspired by the “live recording” of the 2 Web Crew. Having an audience contributing comments and questions via text chat created an interesting dynamic — similar to talkback radio but less formal. I wanted to explore further.

The technical challenge is combining all of the audio elements before the audio or video stream is piped up to Ustream or wherever. There’s probably quite a few ways to do this, but my starting-point was The UStream Tool Kit — which also covers Windows.

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