Posts Tagged DRM

May
06

Pandora starts doing geolocation

Posted by on Sunday, 6 May, 2007

Well I guess it was just a matter of time before Pandora started blocking people outside the US instead of just simply counting on people’s honesty to provide their true zip-code and not just a random US one to fake their way in.

Dear Pandora Visitor,

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for most listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

We believe that you are in Japan (your IP address appears to be 121.xxx.xxx.xxx). If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please contact us at pandora-support@pandora.com

It’s really too bad, because it’s simply a brilliant service – I wish they would speed up the licensing agreement proceedings in different parts of the world, but even then, I guess Japan will be very very late. I mean, even Last.fm in Japan blocks the radio function (although using the English client and English homepage in Japan works fine). Anyway, I just signed up for Last FM and it looks pretty darn good. I tried it for a few days a year ago or so, but didn’t like, but now the user base seems to be much bigger and the features of the site and the standalone player have been improved greatly!

Aug
22

A Glimpse Into My Dark Past

Posted by on Tuesday, 22 August, 2006

I was doing a vanity search on Google (where I turned up as no.1…but that is beside the point), far down I rediscovered something I had forgotten about:
Skull and Crossbones
Tronic’s CSDB Profile

The CSDB is the C-64 Scene Database and is a fairy detailed database of the “scene” (i.e. piracy/demo-making/cracking etc.) of the good old Commodore 64. In its archive it has information on people involved, games released, demos produced, and much more. The entry on me is not 100% accurate (it probably isn’t for anyone) but I think it is good enough considering the archive came into existance a few years ago but is referring to a period that happened 15-20 years ago.

There you have it. It’s out of the box now. I came out of the pirate closet. Although, back in the days when I was most active (1989-1991) no one used the term “pirate” and, as far as I know, no one among the people who are actually on the inside on the current scenes (be it PC or ISO, or whatever) actually uses the term to describe themselves.

What did we do back then? Well, during the time of my peak, the “scene” was virtually split into two parts (it wasn’t from the beginning) with some people keeping it 100% legal and producing music, graphics, and mesmerizing demos for the enjoyment of their fellow demo-making friends. The other part of the scene was in a more grey area from a legal perspective. These people looked down upon the demo-scene as not being the “real” scene, because after all, this kind of behavior was born out of hacking and cracking copy-protections from games. True – this part of the scene sourced original games, cracked (removed) the copy-protection, and then spread the game to all their closest contacts via mail, and later via modem. To get bragging rights, there was always a short intro attached which said who had cracked it when. For the most hardened crackers & scene-people it was (and still is) more about getting attention from your peers for a job well done as well as the satisfaction one gets after completing a difficult task, rather than spreading & copying the actual game that brought upon this behavior.

From the beginning, people were operating on their own, but quickly friends began to join up into groups to split responsibilities among themselves. There were always a few select groups that were deemed as better and cooler than others, and these groups and their members were called “elite”. The elite during the late 80’s, beginning of 90’s when I was active were groups like Legend, Ikari, Talent, Illusion, Genesis Project, Empire, Random, Paramount, etc. Earlier members of this highly admired elite were Triad, Fairlight (still alive!), Elite, ESI, Hotline, SCC, WCC, DCS, etc. What did you have to do to become “elite” ? Well, as in all socities, it is partly what you do and partly who you know. Without talent or contacts you were not getting anywhere. However, once in, when you were rubbing shoulders with the highrollers, then you could relax again. No more need to prove your worth. Just keep your cool, keep an elite attitude (whatever that meant) and your place in the top was guaranteed. I have to be honest, towards the end before I decided that the C-64 was not fun anymore and I quit, I really did not contribute much to our group’s (Illusion at that time) sucess but rather mainly hung around the top BBSs, talking about various stuff in the forums there and downloaded newly released stuff. It was an easy life once you were there!

Oh my, I got really nostalgic and carried away and wrote a way too long post! I’ll have to make a follow up post later and sign off now.

Jun
23

A Tale of Sweden, Piratebay, DRM and Filesharing

Posted by on Friday, 23 June, 2006

CDs
If you have read my blog since the beginning, you may have noticed that I used to write a lot about copyright issues and generally took a rather positive stance towards the different piracy-factions and supported them in spirit through their different tough times.

However, recently, this topic has become rather infected in Sweden. It seems as though the opinion of the general public has become somewhat radical by international standards, and a recent survey done by SIFO showed that roughly 50% of the Swedish population thinks that filesharing should be legalized (article in Swedish). L-E-G-A-L-I-Z-E-D!! Recent discussions in Swedish media show that in general, the Swedish public does not want to pay for any kind of entertainment; be it music, TV-shows, or movies. There is a kind of political movement going on now, headed by angry file sharers under the name Pirate Party who are actually going to participate in the government elections this coming Fall. Their official stance is that filesharing should be OK, because the entertainment industry’s monopoly and outdated business model does not work anymore. I see a lack of alternative distribution models presented by the modern Swedish pirates, and suggest that the motive is pure greed. “Why pay if I can get it for free?”

Moving to the discussion one sees in the USA and UK (among other countries), I see there is more moderate focus wihtin the filesharing dicussion. In general, the people fighting for rights of the consumer are generally doing just that, and nothing else. They want to fight DRM and other restrictions of use that the entertainment industry (and its allies) tend to attach to every digital product they sell nowadays. The anti-DRM discussions and protests can get heated of course, but overall they are a whole lot more sensible than the Swedish debate.

To sum up what I have seen from the two related, but oh so different, discussions: in the US, people are willing to pay for entertainment in digital form if the price is reasonable and fair use is possible after purchase; whereas in Sweden, entertainment in digital form is regarded as having little to no value at all, and should be given away for free.

The latest happening in the Swedish debate is the fact that it has surfaced that the US government and MPAA have lobbied the Swedish government to do something about the piracy and filesharing, otherwise Sweden would face sanctions from the WTO. Some Swedish politicians are outraged by this. They say it’s terrible that the Swedish government would act like puppets bending over for Hollywood. I say, stop crying for pete’s sake. The filesharing that is going on in Sweden is of course not 100% illegal, and some filesharing is even good in my opinion, in the sense that it opens up a path for lesser known artists to reach out to a larger public. But the fact remains, the majority of filesharing that is taking place through The Piratebay and other filesharing networks is of the illegal kind, “downloading because I don’t want to pay” kind. And if Sweden cannot curb this illegal activity on its own, then why should not the property right owners step up and try to do something about it? It’s OK for MPAA to take actions against China because there is a massive market for pirated DVDs, but it is not OK for MPAA to voice their opinions against Sweden’s rampant filesharing? Hypocrisy, I say.

I was once agreeing completely with the Swedish pirates’ case, but recently I have been sickened with the discussion. I am now taking a much mroe moderate stance in this discussion. I am for: no DRM and fair use rights for digital media; lower cost for digital media; less geographic restrictions on distribution of entertainment. I am against: legalized filesharing; the opinion that digital media has no value, and other moronic behavior.