optus

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Changing alphabets: click to embiggenMy week Monday 29 April to Sunday 5 May 2013 began gently, with planning and washing and other chores, and just two articles to write. But by Wednesday night I’d also done four radio spots, washed an infinite number of towels, and eaten most of a sheep.

Or so it felt.

Then Thursday was full of the Optus Vision 2013 conference, followed by a late train journey back to the Blue Mountains. It was tough to get into work mode on Friday, but I did, and wrote my second article. And washed more towels. And then on Saturday I did the full sloth.

But the most important part of the week, at least in the long term, was all the time I spent from Friday onwards thinking about the unexpected good news I mentioned last week. It means that I’ll soon be able to work on some projects that have been sitting on the back burner, and you’ll start to see them emerging over the next few weeks.

Articles

Both of these articles resulted from this week’s Privacy Awareness Week activities.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I attended Optus Vision 2013, which meant I was fed food and drink through the day at their expense.

The Week Ahead

I plan to write a story each for Technology Spectator, CSO Online and ZDNet, at the very least, as well as kick off one or more of these new projects. Stay tuned.

It’s my birthday on Thursday, but I’ll just have a quiet drink that night. I’ll head to Sydney on Friday instead and have a proper birthday dinner then, thanks to the Snarky Platypus. I’ll then stay overnight before catching United Airlines flight UA870 to San Francisco on Saturday afternoon, arriving there on Saturday morning.

Saturday night and Sunday day should be free time in San Francisco before, I’m guessing, a social function on Sunday evening serves as prelude to NetSuite’s SuiteWorld. The event proper starts on Monday in San Jose.

[Photo: Changing alphabets, a photograph taken at Optus Vision 2013 once the staffing level of the registration desk had been reduced during the afternoon, and then the desks themselves removed.]

Last week the High Court of Australia denied Optus leave to appeal the Optus TV Now decision, which means their “video recorder in the cloud” service isn’t legal — and that was the topic for my spot on Phil Dobbie’s Balls Radio this week.

The conversation bounced off the analysis I’d written the day before for Technology Spectator, TV Now’s cloud complications.

As usual, the conversation wandered to other matters as well, such as the early broadcast radio industry selling receivers that could only receive one station.

Here’s the audio of my segment. If you’d like more, Mr Dobbie has posted the full episode.

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You can hear us talk live every Tuesday night from 7pm AEST on Sydney’s FM 99.3 Northside Radio.

I’m fairly sure that copyright remains with Mr Dobbie rather than being transferred to Northside Radio, but I’ll figure that out later.

My week from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 May 2012 saw me return to my usual writing levels — despite continuing pain from my shoulder and a lingering cold which, as I write this, threatens to turn into bronchitis. It’s been rather cold and windy here at Wentworth Falls.

Sadly that meant I didn’t make it to the planned paintball session with Eugene Kaspersky on Wednesday night. It seems that I’m fated not to spend any quality time with Mr K on this Australian trip. I daresay I’ll catch up with him another time. Is that a hint? Der. Of course.

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 139, “War talk dominates AusCERT 2012″, the first of two episodes based on material recorded at the information security conference. The overall theme is that infosec is becoming militarised. We no longer talk about “information assurance” but “defensive cyber operations”. Click through for the full list of speakers.

Articles

There’s one more long story emerging from ideas presented at AusCERT 2012 that was filed late Friday. It will appear tomorrow morning at ZDNet Australia.

Media Appearances

None. Which makes up for last week’s heavy media load.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I went to a media briefing by Optus Business at Australian Technology Park. They provided lunch, and afterwards a couple of coffees. They also gave me an autographed copy of Peter Hinssen’s book The New Normal: Explore the limits of the digital world. No, me neither.

The Week Ahead

It looks like the coming week will be significantly less intense for me, with a more gentle workload and, with luck, better health.

The only fixed-schedule items will take place during an overnight trip to Sydney on Wednesday. That evening there’s a Sydney Talks seminar entitled It Won’t Happen to Me: Cybercrime Myths and Concepts at the University of New South Wales. (Does anyone want to join me?) Then on Thursday morning Samsung is launching… well, they won’t tell me what, but I suspect it’s their new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone.

I may well be in Sydney on the weekend too, because Bunjaree Cottages is full up both for that weekend and the following Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Stand by.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream (or they used to before my phone camera got a bit too scratched up) and via Instagram. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags. Yes, I should probably update this stock paragraph to match the current reality.

[Photo: A young Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus) swoops low overhead at Bunjaree Cottages near Wentworth Falls.]

In February the Federal Court ruled that Optus TV Now, which recorded free-to-air TV on behalf of customers for more convenient playback later, was legitimate personal timeshifting as allowed under section 111 of the Copyright Act 1968. Yesterday the Full Federal Court overturned that decision.

This case has interesting implications. Originally, Justice Steve Rares said, effectively, that someone using a recorder-in-the cloud was still making a personal copy for domestic purposes. The fact that they’re using a recording device that’s provided as a service rather than sitting on the shelf under their television is irrelevant. The Full Court is saying, effectively, that the cloud provider is complicity in the action, which means it’s no longer personal, and in some cases may even be the sole actor.

This interpretation could have massive implications for providers of other cloud services. Could they be found to be copying data that they’re not entitled to? I’m no lawyer, so don’t ask me. But I can at least see that the law is having to deal with situations that are very different from the circumstances imagined when it was written.

Paragraph 100 of the Full Court’s decisions does say:

We should emphasise that our concerns here have been limited to the particular service provider-subscriber relationship of Optus and its subscribers to the TV Now Service and to the nature and operation of the particular technology used to provide the service in question. We accept that different relationships and differing technologies may well yield different conclusions to the “who makes the copy” question.

Will this decision be appealed? You bet.

Last night I spoke about the decision and its implications with Dom Knight on ABC Local Radio nationally — well, except for the analog transmitters that were broadcasting the cricket. I also spoke about the material I presented yesterday at DigitalMe in Perth.

Play

[Update: I just noticed that there's a couple of little audio gaps. I was recording off the stream, y'see. I'll fix them later.]

Personally, I stand by what I said in the opinion piece I wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald in February: Sport has to think outside the box.

If you’re in Perth today, the DigitalFamily event starts at 1000 local time at Northbridge Piazza. It’s free.

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

Last night I took part in a nice long chat about copyright and the internet on ABC Local Radio across Australia — the program being Tony Delroy’s Nightlife.

Also on the program was Fiona Phillips, acting CEO of the Australian Copyright Council, so we had me as the technologist and her as the lawyer.

I think Mr Delroy was surprised to find that we were in broad agreement on most issues. We covered quite a bit of territory, including SOPA, Optus versus sport, new business models and the inevitable mention of Nine Inch Nails.

Here’s the recording of the whole thing, including the talkback calls.

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I’d also like to thank everyone on Twitter who suggested other creatives who were successfully bypassing the middlemen and publishing straight to their audiences: musicians Radiohead, Amanda Hocking, Amanda Palmer, Jonathan Coulton and OK Go; writers Stephen King and Cory Doctorow; comedian Louis CK; and even the movie Red State by Kevin Smith. Have I missed any?

The audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The program is also available as an MP3 from the ABC website.

The Optus TV Now decision continued to be “important” news throughout the week, with sports heavies trying to talk the government into a quick fix despite the Australian Law Reform Commission review already scheduled.

If you’re new to the story, well, there’s a summary and links in my post from Tuesday and my opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Last night I ended up talking about it on Adelaide radio 1395 FIVEaa. I held the slight fear that I’d be on a sports program as token representative of The Evil Internets. But as it happens, presenter Will Goodings took us through a rather balanced discussion.

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As an aside, I was amused to see how an editorial in The Australian described the federal court decision.

Last week’s landmark Federal Court ruling that Optus can record and re-broadcast sporting events “near live” without breaching copyright…

The court decided no such thing. It decided that individuals could make their “private and domestic” recordings using Optus’ service rather than their own equipment. It certainly didn’t give Optus permission to “re-broadcast” anything, at least within any meaning of the word “broadcast” used by people on this planet.

Still, hats off to The Australian for a lovely bit of propaganda in support of their sporting interests. Remember who owns the National Rugby League…

The audio is ©2012 dmgRadio Australia, but here it is ‘cos it hasn’t been posted on the radio station’s website. Besides, this is a reasonable plug.

If you’d asked me last week what I thought I’d be doing this week, the answer would not have included “writing and talking about the future of the major sporting codes as televisions events”. But I wrote this thing in the newspaper…

Last week federal court judge Justice Steven Rares ruled that Optus’ TV Now service, which allows customers to record free-to-air TV and have it streamed back to their smartphone, tablet or computer at a more convenient time, was a legal form of time-shifting under section 111 of the Copyright Act 1968.

Even if competing telco Telstra had a supposedly-exclusive deal with the Australian Football League (AFL) to stream live video coverage of matches to smartphones. Even if the delay between an Optus customer starting to record a game and playing it back was just two minutes.

Telstra is paying the AFL $153 million over five years for this now-not-so-exclusive streaming right. Optus pays the AFL nothing, because they’re just providing a technical service through which individual customers make their own “solely for private and domestic use” recordings.

Josh Taylor covered it for ZDNet Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald commissioned me to write an opinion piece that was published this morning, Sport has to think outside the box. Do please read it. It seem to have struck a chord, because I’ve received a lot of compliments.

Then the ABC’s Linda Mottram asked me to chat about the issues on 702 Sydney. And here’s the audio, along with her subsequent chat with a talkback caller on the same topic.

Play

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. But these program items usually aren’t archived on their website so here it is. And I will of course suggest that you listen to Linda Mottram’s morning program regularly.

I’m thinking of writing up some of my thoughts on how future sporting coverage could be done technically. Meanwhile, do you feel as I do that the days of cashed-up major sporting codes are about to end?

[Update 8 February 2012, 1015: The Sydney Morning Herald has published a follow-up piece this morning by rugby legend Roy Masters. Court has gambled with codes' futures. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to draw me a diagram of what the fuck he's talking about.]

Over at Crikey I’ve written a summary of what’s happening with Australia’s internet filter.

Australia’s mandatory internet filtering by internet service providers (ISPs) won’t happen for at least two years. But we’re getting filtering anyway. Voluntarily. By ISPs. Next month…

Telstra and Optus are expected to have their filters ready within weeks, although the situation with Primus is unclear…

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) is also about to release a voluntary industry code that would see an estimated 80% to 90% of Australian internet connections filtered by the Interpol blacklist over the next year. Attempts to access domains on the list would be redirected to an Interpol block page.

Overall, I reckon the process that’s now unfolding could well result in the gvernment’s planned mandatory ISP-level filtering disappearing off the table entirely.

As a bonus link, here’s Interpol’s explanation of their “worst-of” blacklist of child exploitation material.

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets. With three full working days occupied by conferences, I still managed to get a few things done. And not all of it was drinking.

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 78, “Bionic eyes, gigabit Wi-Fi and the NBN”. This is my wrap-up of the NICTA Techfest, including an interview with Dr Terry Percival, one of the inventors of Wi-Fi, about potential future uses of the National Broadband Network. He reckons video will be the killer technology, with the world returning to non-written communication as the norm.

Articles

Media Appearances

  • This week’s edition of the Business 21C Weekly podcast from Sydney community radio station 2SER was all about the Australian government’s plans for internet censorship, and I was one of the guests. The program also features web developer Scott David from Flock and the president of the Internet Society of Australia, Tony Hill.

Corporate Largesse

  • The Kickstart Forum on the Gold Coast continued on Monday and Tuesday. My airfares and accommodation were paid for by the organisers, Media Connect. Monday’s lunch was sponsored by Samsung. There was also plenty of freebies from the vendors, though notably less than last year. And substantially fewer USB memory sticks. Should I bother reporting all this stuff? If nothing else, it’s interesting to document for posterity.
  • On Thursday I attended the Digital Directions 2011 conference as their guest. They provided food and drink. Stories relates to the event will appear next week.
  • The lovely folks at Saasu — well, their CEO Marc Lehmann — decided to give me a three-month extension on my subscription, just as a gift. I’d still say it’s a delightful online accounting system even without that.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: The view this morning from the front door of Tea Tree Cottage, one of the Bunjaree Cottages at Wentworth Falls, where I'm living this week. I'll write more about this experience very soon.]

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets and in the media and places — and what a productive week it has been!

Articles

  • You know super-fast ain’t so super: Optus, and…
  • ACCC says Optus pitch is misleading, for ZDNet.com.au, both covering the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s case in the Federal Court in Sydney against Singtel Optus for allegedly misleading or deceptive advertising. I particularly like Optus’ lawyer saying that broadband is not a bottle of shampoo, and the argument that even if an advertisement is technically misleading in and of itself this can still be “cured” with more information later in the sales process. The judge’s decision is expected early in the coming week.
  • Turnbull v Conroy: how Coalition broadband plan stacks up, for Crikey, comparing the Coalition’s new broadband policy with the Labor government’s National Broadband Network.

Podcasts

Media Appearances

Geekery

Corporate Largesse

  • HTC threw a more-than-adequate BBQ with plenty of drinks for the Australian launch of the HTC Desire HD smartphone. The venue was the Astral Bar and Restaurant at Star City Casino.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Sydney CBD at dusk, taken from the Astral Bar and Restaurant on level 17 of the Star City Casino in Pyrmont.]

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