Dutch big content sues claiming the government should protect their profits

 

A coalition of Dutch film and TV producers is suing the local government claiming that they are responsible for the country’s high piracy rates.

They claim the government tolerated and even encouraged unauthorised downloading for years and want the government to foot the bill.

Dutch local law traditionally allowed piracy, but in 2014 when the European Court of Justice ruled it to be unlawful. The Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading to conform with the law.

But Big Content said that the government did not do enough to go after pirates. The government denied these allegations, pointing out that the filmmakers could go after downloaders directly if they want to recoup their losses.

Big Content must prove that it had suffered financial loss due to piracy, which should not be too difficult, but it might be tricky to calculate the scale of the damages since a pirate download doesn’t directly translate to a lost sale.

Last year film industry group VPSO already asked for $1.27 billion in damages for piracy losses that were allegedly suffered since 2004.

 

 

European court backtracks on right to be forgotten

The European court has backtracked slightly on the “right to be forgotten” principle.

Two years ago the court decided that people had the right to update or remove incorrect material that search engines might have on them.

Today, the court is limiting the so-called “right to be forgotten” principle, ruling that individuals cannot demand that personal data be erased from company records in an official register.

The European Court of Justice said that company registers needed to be public to ensure legal certainty and to protect the interests of third parties.
Company registers only contained a limited amount of personal information and, as executives in companies should disclose their identity and functions, it said.

This did not constitute too severe an interference in their private lives and personal data. However, the court said there might be specific situations in which access to personal data in company registers could be limited, such as a long period after a company’s dissolution.

But this should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Tech is behind most crime

High-tech crimes, such as document fraud, money laundering and online trading in illegal goods, are at the root of almost all serious criminality, according to Europe’s cops.

Europol said in a study of organized crime that it publishes every four years that cross-cutting criminal threats enable and facilitate most, if not all, other types of serious and organized crime,” such as drugs and people trafficking.

Ransomware, which blocks a person or company’s computer until a fee is paid to unlock it, has become a major concern.

But traditional crimes also now rely increasingly on new technology, such as the drug trade’s use of drones, and burglars using computers to scout neighbourhoods online and track social media posts to see when people are away from home.

Europol says there are some 5,000 international crime groups under investigation, with members from more than 180 nationalities.

Drug trafficking remained the largest criminal market in the European Union, generating some $25 billion of profit per year.
People smuggling has become more lucrative as wars and unrest in the Middle East and Africa have pushed record number of people to try to reach Europe, with 510,000 illegal crossings into the EU in 2016.

“Nearly all of the irregular migrants arriving in the EU along these routes use the services offered by criminal networks at some point during their journey,” Europol said.

Nvidia to launch most powerful card yet

Nvidia is officially launching its most powerful gaming graphics card today.

Dubbed the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, the card was announced last week at the Game Developers Conference.

Nvidia has now spilt the beans on the card’s performance. Though its memory complement and a few blocks within the GPU are reduced versus Nvidia’s previous top-end card, the Titan X, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti makes up for its shortcomings with higher memory clocks.

These are based on new and improved Micron GDDR5X memory, faster core clocks and an improved cooler.

The 1080 Ti retails for $699, which is nearly half the price of the $1200 for the Titan X, and it is faster.

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti performed on par with or slightly faster than the NVIDIA Titan X and roughly 30-35 per cent better than the standard GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition.

There is no competition with AMD’s current flagship GPU, the Radeon R9 Fury X; the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was at times nearly twice as fast than the Fury X.

Global Crossings’ Winnick tunes up his Qello

Global Crossing founder Gary Winnick, has acquired a majority stake in live streaming concert service Qello.

He said that it would be the first step in creating a new company and technology platform to capitalize on the surge in online TV consumption.

Speaking to Reuters, Winnick said the company, which will keep the name Qello, is aiming to provide the technology for video streaming services. It has approached Viacom and MGM Studios as content partners.

He wants to broaden the offering beyond television to enable companies in the music, healthcare and education industries to launch the streaming platform.

Qello, which was acquired for an undisclosed sum, will be the backbone technology for the new company, Winnick said. At the moment it just runs Qello Concerts, and provides the tech platform for Acorn TV, an online streaming service for British shows owned by RLJ Entertainment.

He is betting that people will cut the pay TV cord, pushing the total number of cord-cutting households to 7.4 million.

Winnick’s path will not be easy as new players in streaming technology are popping up every month.

Winnick built Global Crossing into a $48 billion company and sold shares worth $734 million before it went bankrupt in 2002.

Dark web shrinking

The number of dark web services has gone down significantly following the Freedom Hosting II hack that took place at the start of February.

According to a new OnionScan report, only 4,400 services exist on the dark web. This is significantly down on last year when the number of dark web services was pitched at 30,000.

According to Sarah Jamie Lewis, the main researcher behind the OnionScan report, at the heart of this dramatic drop in numbers is the downfall of Freedom Hosting II, a dark web hosting service.

A previous report from October 2016, also by Lewis, estimated that Freedom Hosting II hosted around a fifth of the entire dark web.

“We believe that the Freedom Hosting II takedown not only removed many thousands of active sites but also may have affected other hosting providers who were hosting some infrastructure on top of Freedom Hosting II,” Lewis explained.

Anonymous hacked Freedom Hosting II at the start of February this year after they discovered the provider was knowingly providing service to many websites hosting images of sexually abused children.

The dark web is now down to 4,000 HTTP websites, 250 TLS (HTTPS) endpoints, 100 SMTP services, and only 10 FTP nodes.

Lewis also notes that despite previous reports of improperly configured of dark web servers, the number of installations leaking details about the underlying server has remained at the same levels.

Foxconn out of running for Toshiba business

Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, is not a favoured bidder for Toshiba memory chip business because it is too close to China.

Apparently the Japanese government has told Tosh that flogging its flash business to China  would be opposed because it means the transference of key technology.

Foxconn has plants in China, and the Japanese fear that putting the tech close to the Chinese would result in the tech leaking out due to industrial espionage and internal corruption.

Toshiba, the second-biggest NAND chip producer after Samsung, wants to sell the majority – or all – of its marquee flash-memory chip business, as it seeks to make up for a $6.3 billion writedown from its US nuclear unit Westinghouse.

Toshiba is valuing its chip business at $13.1 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. Initial bids are due by the end of the month.

Foxconn said last week it was “definitely bidding” for Toshiba’s chip business and that it was “very confident” it could buy into it.

Yesterday the Nikkei business daily reported that Foxconn has approached   SK Hynix to explore a joint bid.

TSMC, another Taiwanese firm and the world’s largest contract chipmaker, is also deeply interested in Toshiba’s chip unit.

 

Samsung trial opens

The trial of Samsung’s supreme dalek on bribery, embezzlement and other offences in a corruption scan has opened in South Korea.

Jay Y. Lee, denies all charges against him which are connected to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Lee, who is being detained at Seoul Detention Centre, did not attend court. A defendant does not have to turn up during a preparatory hearing, held to organize evidence and set dates for witness testimony.

Lee’s defence said that the special prosecution’s indictment cites conversations, evidence or witnesses the prosecution did not actually hear, investigate or interview according to the rules – or state opinions that are not facts.

Song Wu-cheol, defending Lee, told the court that it was unclear what kind of order Lee is supposed to have given.

“The indictment cannot have statements that can create prejudices in the court about the case,” Song told reporters as he left court.

The Samsung Group has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Among the charges against Lee, 48, are pledging bribes to a company and organisations linked to a friend of President Park, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the scandal, to cement his control of the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire.

Defendants being tried with Lee include the former Samsung Group Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung, former Samsung Group President Chang Choong-ki and former Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin. They are also denying everything.

Legislation appointing the special prosecutor states that the current lower court trial should be finished within three months of the indictment on February 28.

 

Cyberfox is officially dead

The web browser Cyberfox appears to have been torn apart by hounds while rich toffs on horses stand by applauding and another makes loud farting noises on a bugle.

In a blog entitled Cyberfox and its future direction, the browser’s lead developer of Cyberfox proclaimed the death of their web browser.

Toady, said that the project was taking too much of his personal time, and the changes required by Mozilla were requiring more and more time to maintain.

He said: “This project has been amazing no one could ask for a better project or community sadly as much as i love this project my heart is no longer fully in it, dreams of pursuing game development were pushed aside and lifestyle steadily declined ultimately slowly coming to this point where changes and choices have to be made ones that will affect this project and the future of what i have spent all these years building.”

The issue appears to be that Mozilla announced major changes to Firefox, some of which landed already, some are in process, and others are announced for 2017. These include multi-process Firefox, the removal of plugins and WebExtensions will replace all other add-on systems of the browser.

That’s too much change, for projects that are maintained by a small but dedicated group of developers such as Cyberfox.

The author of Cyberfox made the decision to switch the browser’s release channel to Firefox 52.0 ESR. This means that Cyberfox will be supported with security updates for the next eight release cycles, but new features that Mozilla introduces in Firefox Stable won’t find their way into the browser anymore.

ZTE pays $900 million fine

 

Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE has agreed to plead guilty and pay up in a US sanctions case, drawing a line under a damaging scandal that had threatened its cut off its supply chain.

While the fine was larger than expected, ZTE, also a major smartphone maker, reported robust underlying earnings for 2016 and was upbeat in estimates for the first quarter.

A five-year investigation found ZTE conspired to evade US embargoes by buying US components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.

It also made 283 shipments of telecommunications equipment to North Korea.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s, they lied … about their illegal acts,”

But ZTE relies on US suppliers for 25 percent to 30 percent of its components, many of which are key to its goods. It buys about $2.6 billion worth of components a year from US firms. This includes  Qualcomm, Microsoft and Intel.

ZTE Chief Executive Zhao Xianming said in a statement that his outfit acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company.

The company agreed to a seven-year suspended denial of export privileges, which could be activated if there are further violations, as well as three years of probation, a compliance and ethics program, and a corporate monitor.

It also agreed to an additional penalty of $300 million that will be suspended during the seven-year term on the condition the company complies with requirements in the agreement.

ZTE has replaced executives allegedly involved, including naming a new president.

The company said it slid to a preliminary net loss of $342 million in 2016, its first loss in four years, due to the settlement.