Tag: rome

Romans declare piracy sites legal

After years of backing the sinking of pirate content websites, the Roman Court of Appeal has overturned a 600,000 euro ruling against four unlicensed sites that offered streaming movies to the public.

For those who came in late, the ruling is unexpected.  Italian courts have passed down many decisions against unlicensed sites which have seen hundreds blocked by ISPs.

But now the Court of Appeal has defined a pirate site in a way which makes it difficult for shedloads of them to be shut down on the basis of a stiff letter coming from Big Content..

In 2015 when the operator of four sites that linked to pirated movies was found guilty of copyright infringement by a local court and ordered to pay more almost 600,000 in fines and costs. As a result, filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org all shutdown.

However, an appeal was filed and heard by the Rome Court of Appeal in February. The site’s lawyer Fulvio Sarzana said that the Court ruled that the links do not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright law.

This means that sites can list links and not be prosecuted.

“The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this is despite the presence of advertising banners,” Sarzana says.

It is no longer enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must show that profit activity is connected to an individual.

If it fails, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate “significant gain”.

The judge ruled that file sharing is an  expensive saving move and a not a for-profit business and in such cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions.


Romans say embedding is not piracy

roman-mattressA Roman court has ruled that embedding does not constitute a copyright infringement.

The move overturns one of the 152 website blocks another court imposed last month, and ruled that that allowed the Italian site Kisstube to carry on as normal.

Kisstube is a YouTube channel, which also exists as a standalone website that does not host any content itself, linking instead to YouTube. Both the channel and website arrange content by categories for the convenience of users.

The Italian court’s decision was influenced by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) into an outfit called BestWater. In that case, the CJEU held that embedding or framing a video or image from another website is not copyright infringement if the latter is already accessible to the general public.

Another CJEU judgment, ruled that posting hyperlinks to pirated copies of material is only legal provided it is done without knowledge that they are unauthorised versions, and it is not carried out for financial gain.

The judge has assessed that there was no evidence of illegality of the link on Kisstube’s site, because it had received no “notice and takedown request”.

YouTube has a notice system based on the US DMCA, it was not interested in acting against Kisstube because there was no indication that the hyperlinks were to illegal material. Therefore it was not a pirate site and the BestWater ruling applied.

Google wants to create artificial Roman drivers


toyotahybrid-20140417113203813 (1)One of the technical challenges of self-driving cars is making the automatic pilots behave like humans and in some cases that means honking the horn.

In Rome, honking the horn has a complex etiquette which often leads to wild gestures and swearwords related to the drivers’ testicles or lack thereof, and the fact that the Virgin Mary might have actually been a pig.

Google is apparently discussing how its cars will communicate with human drivers in other cars to make sure they don’t kill themselves. The strategy, which is teach the autonomous cars how to honk at them, will go down like cold Quinto Quarto.

Google says 94 percent of minor crashes are caused by human error, so to combat this, the Menlo-Park, California-based company’s autonomous cars are going to need to whip us fallible beings into shape by disciplining us when we misbehave.

The company says the point of the honking software is to “recognise when honking may help alert other drivers to our car’s presence — for example, when a driver begins swerving into our lane or backing out of a blind driveway.”

Google said that during testing, it taught our vehicles to distinguish between potentially tricky situations and false positives, i.e. the difference between a car facing the wrong way during a three-point turn, and one that’s about to drive down the wrong side of the road.

“At first, we only played the horn inside the vehicle so we wouldn’t confuse others on the road with a wayward beep. Each time our cars sound the horn, our test drivers take note whether the beep was appropriate, and this feedback helps our engineering team refine our software further.”

Unlike Rome with its single toot which means something like “the light is actually green now you might wish to move” or a long toot which means “If you pull out now I will kill you and all your family and dance on their rotting bodies” Google has come up with various types of honks.

“We’ve even taught our vehicles to use different types of honks depending on the situation. If another vehicle is slowly reversing towards us, we might sound two short, quieter pips as a friendly heads up to let the driver know we’re behind. However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk.”

We will not believe that it is effective until the car automatically winds down the window and extends an automatic fist and another driver.


Torvalds f**** off on holiday

torvaldsnvidia-640x424Open Sauce’s Mr Sweary Linus Torvalds might delay the release of kernel 4.1 because he is going on holiday.

Torvalds posted over the weekend that version 4.1-rc5 looks like it’s well and truly on track and would be ready for release .“if it wasn’t for the fact that the timing looks like the next merge window would hit our yearly family vacation.”

While Torvalds decides, he suggests Linux kernel devs “please keep testing”.

“So we’ll see how that turns out,” he adds. “I might end up delaying the release just to avoid that (or just delay opening the merge window). I haven’t decided yet.”

Torvalds rarely has a break, he works on Sunday and posts to the kernel mailing list. It is fair to say other Open Sauce projects tend to drop down the loo when its organisers find more interesting things to do. This is the first time under Torvald’s rule that we have heard of anything being held up because he has something mundane to do like taking a break.

Indeed we expect, nay, demand that Linus tell the rest of the world to sod off for a couple of weeks and go somewhere nice and hot. Like Roma.

Apple appoints Roman moneyman

Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer has decided to retire and hand over the keys of Apple’s vast treasure house to Luca Maestri in September.

It is the first time since the days of the Roman empire that an Italian has been entrusted with such a vast fortune but fortunately with a name like Maestri he should be able to teach Apple a thing or two.

The 50-year-old was born in Rome which is quite appropriate for someone who will have a high office in a religious cult. It is a time when Apple is at a crossroads with pressure to put its $160 billion hoard to better use.

Rivals Google and Facebook shell out tens of billions of dollars snapping up cutting-edge tech companies like Nest and WhatsApp which guarantees their future. Apple has so far not done much at all lately.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes told Reuters that Maestri is assuming this role at an interesting time – when Apple is in the midst of launching more services and likely needs to convince investors that it has more consistent revenue streams in a commoditizing smart phone market.

That said, Maestri is believed to support consistent plans for capital return and thoughtful, achievable guidance. In other words, keep the Pax Romana

Oppenheimer, 51, had been CFO since 2004 and was the architect behind a $100 billion capital return program established a year ago in response to demands the company do more with its ballooning cash hoard.

He joined Apple from Xerox in 2013. He spent 20 years at General Motors where he worked as CFO of several units including GM Europe. Before joining Xerox, he was CFO of network equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks. 

Roman coppers turn to Twitter for parking violations

The glorious parking coppers of Rome have turned to Twitter in a desperate attempt to sort out parking in the eternal city.

The City of Rome is rubbish when it comes to parking. The only off-street parking costs you an arm and a leg and citizens are forced to “park creatively”. Rather than provide council parking, the local council spent a fortune on electronic cameras which filmed people parking illegally and issued them with a ticket.

This went down like “British food” as the electronic cameras issued a ticket even if it had snapped a picture of the car before. This resulted in some people getting ten parking tickets for what was arguably the same offence.

Now that particular cunning plan has failed, the Roman council has decided to use social notworking to solve the problem.

The council here has asked residents to post photos of bad parking jobs to Twitter. They have asked for mobile phone users to snap pics of drivers who had left their vehicles in no-parking areas, double-parked, or otherwise in violation of city law.

They then asked folks to tweet those photos to the department’s Twitter account. In the first 30 days of the campaign, police received more than 1,100 complaints, and officials were able to respond to around 740 of them, handing out several hundred tickets.

The officer in charge of the programme, Raphael Clemente, said that it was a great opportunity to give a sign of modernity, openness and transparency”.

Of course, it does mean that you can run passive aggressive rows with your neighbour which costs them a fortune and the Roman Commune still has not solved the problem of what to do about a complete lack of council car parking. 

Italy worried about Google media monopoly

Italy is starting to worry about the power of Google, which some corners of the country are seeing as getting as bad as the hold that Berlusconi has over the media here.

Indeed, the only reason that Berlusconi has not faced anti-trust convictions here is because he is Italian and his lawyers know how to slow up a court case until it is ruled “out of time”.

Google has not been so lucky and has already fallen foul of the Italian court system.  

As a court case between YouTube for using stolen Berlusconi telly content is dragging on, it seems that Italian anti-trust regulators want to snap at Google’s rump.

Italy’s antitrust chief Giovanni Pitruzzella says that he is worried that Google risks becoming a publishing monopoly within a few years. That would not be a problem but as it is antitrust law does not seem to apply to Google or Facebook.

He wants to change the law here so that social networks should be subject to antitrust limits and he can salvage the Italian debt crisis by fining Google lots of dosh.

According to Republica, Pitruzzella told Italy’s lower house of parliament that antitrust regulation should extend to internet media including social networks.

He argued that social networks were competing with traditional publishing companies for advertising revenues. If Google takes too much control then the newspapers which Italy knows and loves will be toast.

That means the ancient tradition of writing copy on behalf of the major political parties will end and they will no longer be able to be used to knife rivals by providing them with leaked documents about alleged corruption.

However, Pitruzzella thinks that it remains essential to open competition in those areas the greater the potential for growth.

He thinks there are a lack of proper rules dealing with e-commerce and this is likely to marginalise the publishing industry. The local press has been flat out trying to build multimedia operations but is finding itself stymied by Google.

The Italian digital advertising market is limited by competition from large international players in the web.

Pitruzzella thinks control of Google and other social media monopolies such as Facebook should be included in any Integrated Communications System.

Franco Bernabe, president of Telecom Italy, told parliament that he was pleased that there is finally a recognition that there individuals working in the internet that have assumed such that pose considerable risks to competition. 

Barclaycard sucked into Italian website disaster

British bank Barclays appears to have gone native in Italy with its Barclaycard service.

For a long time, Italian banks have had a reputation for being not exactly helpful. This has saved them money lately. They were largely unaffected by the banking crash because they forgot to loan much money out.

Now it seems that Barclays, which is the only British bank working in Italy, appears to have gone completely native.

Not only are local branches spontaneously closed for no apparent reason, the move to online banking has created a website site www.barclays.it that is full of holes which makes it impossible to do anything basic like order a Barclaycard.

The website appears helpful, telling you all you need to know about the different types of Barclaycard, what you have to pay and how you can do it.

It is more or less what you would expect from a modern banking site, until you come to order the card itself.

The site tells you can order your Barclaycard by visiting the site you are on, visiting Barclaycard.it, phoning up a 24 hour hotline, or going into your branch.

However nowhere on the site does it allow you to apply for a card. Indeed if you go to the Barclaycard sister site www.barclaycard.it, you find similar information, but can’t order one either.

If you call up the 24 hour help line to apply you are asked to input the card number that you have not got before they will put you through to anyone. In fact when we tried to contact them on a Saturday the office appeared to be on an automatic message due to an Italian national holiday.

If you decide to go to your local branch you will find a very helpful person who says you have to apply online for a Barclaycard and she can only do paperwork for an American Express Card.

It appears then that the British Barclays is trying to avoid losing money in Italy. It sets up a nice website, which everyone has to be referred to, and then twice “forgets” to stick the page where you apply for one, thus preventing anyone from applying for one and getting into debt.

Unless it really was a mistake and it was just not spotted by the site QA. 

Romans shocked at Zuckerberg's mean streak

Social notworking billionaire Mark Zuckerberg shocked the Romans for being such a tight arse.

The press here is all a flutter that Zuckerberg had a honeymoon lunch with his new missus, Priscilla Chan, in the historic Jewish quarter and didn’t even leave a tip.

The price of the lunch was just 32 euro, which for a tourist trap like the Jewish quarter in Spring is next to nothing.  Some restuarant owners in Rome have been arrested for charging tourists hundreds of euro for next to near nothing.

What surprises the Romans is that the Americans are famous for being generous tippers it makes up for the fact that they often stroll around Rome shouting about how old everything is.

Zuckerberg is not short of a bob or two so the waiters started planning to go somewhere nice in August when Mr and Mrs Zuckerberg left without leaving a tip.

All that left the poor waiters at Nonna Betta, which specialises in Roman Jewish cuisine to tell their chums at the local media.

For the record it was a good lunch deal – deep-fried artichokes, fried pumpkin flowers and ravioli stuffed with sea bass and artichokes. It appears they saved loads by having a bottle of water and a pot of tea.

“I asked him ‘how was it?’ and he said ‘very good’,” the owner, identified only as Umberto, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The couple’s Roman adventure was supposed to be closely guarded secret until a Polish tourist spotted them in the Sistine Chapel, snapped a blurry photograph, and posted it on Twitter.

It seems that Zuckerburg must have heard about his company’s share price dropping down the loo while he was on his holidays and decided he should be saving a bit of cash.

Italian coppers arrest Anonymous cell

Italian police have carried out 32 raids across the country and fingered the collar of three people, including a minor, who are suspected of being the Italian leaders of the Anonymous hacker group.

State Police claim they have arrested the “the promoter” and some leading figures of the Italian cell of “Anonymous”, the hacker group.  So far no names have been released.

The raids were carried out by the anti-crime investigators of the National Computer Center  and coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Rome. Another person in the Swiss canton of Canton Ticino has also been arrested.

Local press here expect further arrests to follow.

In a statement, the Italian State police said that Anonymous had caused substantial damage to institutions and companies. Some sites were unable to operate for some time.

Out of all of the current hacker groups, Anonymous is the largest, but is also populated by the least technical people. Some of its members carry out attacks using software downloaded from the Internet and do not carry out the most basic attempts to secure their IP address.

There has been no official announcement from Anonymous about the arrests.