You might recall that Voltage Pictures has been one of the bigger copyright trolls in the United States, sending out mass "settlement-o-matic" letters to people who download their films (including The Hurt Locker
and Dallas Buyers Club
) via BitTorrent, threatening them with legal action unless they settle up. Last in 2012 Voltage took their show on the road to Canada, taking aim at independent ISP TekSavvy
in the hopes of forcing the ISP to turn over the identities of 2,000 BitTorrent users.
Over the weekend Canadian Judge Kevin Aalto ruled that TekSavvy had to turn over those names, but Aalto added some caveats to his ruling that won't make things easy on the copyright troll
Aalto ordered that before Voltage can send a letter to the alleged downloaders, it must return to court to get the wording of its communications cleared by a case management judge..."Any correspondence sent by Voltage to any subscriber shall clearly state in bold type that no court has yet made a determination that such subscriber has infringed or is liable in any way for payment of damages."
Aalto also declared that Voltage has to pay TekSavvy's legal bills entirely before any data will change hands, and the data can only be used specifically for the letters. Meanwhile, Canadian law professor Michael Geist explains in a blog post
how pursuing their copyright troll ambitions in Canada may not be worth the cost of the effort for Voltage.
In the first five weeks of 2014, five workers have died while climbing cell towers for their employers. Since 2008, this site has noted
that one of the most dangerous professions in the world (in terms of death rate per 100,000 employees) is a relative unknown one: tower climbing.
Comcast today didn't waste much time in paving the way for what they hope will be regulatory approval of their $45 billion planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable
. Needless to say, there's going to be a lot of worries about the impact of letting Comcast grow ever larger, even if the company plans to divest a small chunk of their acquired markets to Charter Communications.
Reuters story continues..
was the first to report today that Google is preparing to cut their losses with their $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola in 2011
, and will soon sell Motorola Mobility and "certain patents" to Lenovo for around $3 billion. Reuters claims the deal could be officially announced as soon as tomorrow.
Users in our AT&T forums
indicate that AT&T appears to be suffering from a significant outage impacting a large number of the company's U-Verse TV and broadband customers. Some users claim that changing their DNS servers to a third party option like OpenDNS helps, though others claim the problems persist.
The other day we noted how Iowa ISP East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative began imposing caps on their 3 Mbps DSL users
, the caps ranging from a lowly 5 GB of usage for 5 GB of usage for $25 a month, all the way up to 30 GB of usage for a whopping $200 a month.
EBTC General Manager Butch Rorabaugh has since defended the pricing to Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin
, claiming the company will die if it's not allowed to charge these kinds of prices, made necessary because of reduced FCC subsidies and highly rural locations:
EBTC General Manager Butch Rorabaugh explained to Ars last night that the company has to offset revenue losses in phone service and federal funding..."The challenge we face is serving a rural area," he said.
For years we've talked about how AT&T's long-festering plan to introduce a "1-800 number for mobile data" was a pretty bad idea
, given it gave more power to AT&T, while giving the biggest content companies with the deepest pockets an unfair advantage over smaller content companies and startups. Last week AT&T formally introduced the idea under the moniker of "Sponsored Data
," heavily playing up the benefit of having select content (ESPN, etc.) not count against a user's usage cap.
We recently noted how the UK's effort to force ISPs to filter porn by default wasn't working very well, with simple chrome proxy extensions
allowing porn hunters to easily bypass the filters. Worse perhaps is the fact that the filters aren't even really working, not only failing to filter a significant number of major porn sites, but accidentally filtering sexual education and rape support websites
Blogger Peter Hansteen has since put the filters through their paces, and found they're filtering a number of technology and civil liberty websites as well
...checking a semi-random collection of mainly fairly mainstream and some rather obscure tech URLs shows that far from focusing on its stated main objective, keeping innocent children away from online porn, the UK Internet filter shuts the UK's children out of a number of valuable IT resources, was well as several important civil liberties resources...if this is the true face of Parental Controls, I for one would take using controls like these as a sufficient indicator that the parents in question are in fact not qualified to do their parenting without proper supervision.
The filtered websites aren't exactly obscure, either, including Slashdot, Ars Technica, and the EFF. The broken filters come at the cost of higher rates for UK broadband users, as ISPs pass on the filter costs to users. The UK government continues to be rather tone deaf to the entire pile of dysfunction, suggesting they'd like to take things further by censoring websites that promote "extremist" views.
According to data from the American Television Alliance
, 2013 was a record year for retransmission disputes resulting in blacked-out content for television viewers. The group, which is backed by companies like Dish, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable, states that there were 127 content blackouts resulting from retransmission fee disputes in 2013, up from 91 in 2012. That in turn was up significantly from 51 in 2011 and a dozen in 2010. Granted the biggest of last year was Time Warner Cable's fight with CBS, which resulted in a record number of customers leaving the cable provider
for other pay TV providers including Aereo.
While the shift to faster and more reliable wireless network technology has paid very obvious dividends, new analysis by Heavy Reading suggests that wireless carriers lose $15 billion to network outages annually. According to the study
, carriers say physical link failures and network congestion are primary causes of these outages, though few report network attacks as prominent causes; though that may be because many wireless carriers aren't aware of them. "Part of the reason for that is many operators actually have little or no visibility of the malicious traffic in the network," says researcher Patrick Donegan. "When they do have incidents, often they are not actually aware if it may have been a malicious attack that caused it."
As noted yesterday
, the British government is moving forward with its effort to impose Internet filters, willfully-oblivious to the facts that such filters usually don't work, often filter legit content, are usually easily bypassed by those looking for porn, and lead down a slippery slope toward greater filters. Not too surprisingly then, the BBC reports
that UK ISP filters have been failing to filter many major porn websites, but have been filtering user access to sex ed websites, rape support websites, and porn addiction websites. That doesn't seem much of a concern for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is also interested in forcing ISPs to filter out government-determined "extremism"-linked websites and content
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea
of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard.
Frontier Communications executive Dana Waldo stormed out of a public meeting at the West Virginia Capitol on Wednesday, after he was asked if Frontier's broadband technology would provide households with basic DSL speeds in Tyler County, West Virginia. Waldo got angry while Council members were reviewing grant applications from a Frontier competitor that plans to bring broadband service to Tyler County. story continues..
DSLReports reader briansgs2
directs our attention to the fact that Florida customers are annoyed that Bright House Communications has been cashing their checks for cable and broadband service -- over and over again
. Numerous Florida customers have complained about the problem, one user noting that a $175.03 check mailed to Bright House was somehow cashed four times. "Corrective actions are underway and duplicate payments will be reversed and funds will be replaced," the company said in a statement. Bright House appears to be implying that the blame lies with third party payment processing vendor Bill2Pay, with a "defective file" being sent out to user banks and credit unions.
The retransmission fees broadcasters charge pay TV operators to carry their content have been the source of increasingly obnoxious conflict
the last few years resulting in all manner of content blackouts and bad behavior
by both sides. And it's only going to get worse. According to a report released last week by SNL Kagan
(pdf), retransmission fees are expected to soar 130% by 2019, at which point pay TV operators will shell out $7.6 billion annually (compared to $3.3 billion this year). Granted it's no skin off of cable operators' teeth since all of those costs are passed directly on to you, increasingly in the form of below the line fees on top of
the usual rate increases (also blamed on programming cost increases).
As noted last week
, the leaked draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement not only tries to foist wonky US copyright law upon the globe, it's pushing for numerous entertainment-industry initiatives like content filters, greater ISP liability, the disconnection of pirates from the Internet, and even language that could kill off Aereo.
It's all continually illustrative of how TPP negotiations have utterly excluded not only consumers, but all intelligent but discordant voices -- unless you're one of the 600 lobbyists invited to negotiations.
Wikileaks this week released a copy
of the latest version of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that has been under construction behind closed doors for years. As we've long noted
, the TPP attempts to take some of the worst aspects of U.S.
"We remain committed to delivering high quality products and services to the millions of people who rely on us globally," new Blackberry CEO John Chen stated this week in a letter to customers posted to the Blackberry website
. Chen was named new CEO last week
after the company announced they'd scrapped plans for a sale. "We also want our customers to know that BlackBerry has significant financial strength for the long-haul," promises Chen. That financial strength won't be helped by the continued lack of compelling next-gen product, including this week's Verizon-exclusive launch of Blackberry's Z30
Opinion story continues..
: Whether it's their treatment of Google Wallet
, the Nexus 7
or the Nexus 5
, Verizon Wireless is increasingly making it clear that they're using their position as gatekeeper to engage in anti-competitive behavior -- with few properly calling them out for it. In all of the above instances, Verizon is using network safety and faux-technical explanations to justify why they can't offer a pure Google product -- but can instead offer you one of their own, usually inferior, bloatware-riddled products and services.
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