Well, this is embarrassing. The famously anti-piracy French President Nicholas Sarkozy is learning today that occupants of the Presidential Palace have been very naughty torrent-users. According to everyone’s favorite new tattletale, YouHaveDownloaded.com, six separate copyrighted works have been downloaded at Sarkozy’s home. How’s that three-strikes law working out?
The Ultrabook concept revolves around the devices in this new class of laptops being priced aggressively by PC vendors. The basic idea is that sub-$1000 pricing will be enough to lure consumers to these ultra-thin and light computers. So with affordable pricing being such an integral part of the whole idea, it’s always going to be an important thing to consider when looking forward to upcoming Ultrabooks like the Asus UX21 and UX31.
France instituted a controversial “three-strikes” law earlier this year and according to some numbers release by Hadopi, the agency that implements the system, they’re getting swamped. More than 18 million copyright complaints have been filed since the system was opened up to content owners.
The administrators of one of France’s most popular file sharing sites, “Liberty Land” have been arrested, TorrentFreak is reporting. The French trio are facing charges of organised counterfeiting, which could net them up to 5 years in jail and $700,000 in fines. The site is, as you might expect, down.
Google's semi-controversial Street View technology is once again making headlines, this time because of a heavy-handed fine imposed by France's data privacy regulator. According to an AFP report, France fined Google 100,000 euros today, or about $142,000 in U.S. currency, for collecting private information. It's the biggest fine ever handed out by the National Commission for Information Freedom (CNIL) since the organization obtained the power to do so in 2004.
Private copying levies can have a divisive impact on a room full of people with some sense of technology and law. It is arguably one of the most hotly debated areas of copyright law. In case you need to brush up on your knowledge of copyright law, a private copying levy is generally imposed on the sale of storage media that can be used for copying copyrighted content. The proceeds are distributed among copyright owners as prevenient compensation for copying.
The debate is about to heat up as France is now ready to expand the purview of its private copying levy beyond recordable media and MP3 players. The government there is considering taxing all non-Windows tablets with more than 40GB of storage. Apparently, they feel there is a strong case for taxing tablets as they can be used for duplicating copyrighted content. Despite the majority view that tablets are part of the genus Computer, the French possess enough profundity to point to something that makes the two substantially dissimilar: Windows.
Let alone the fact that even computers running a desktop OS, and not just tablets, can be used for duplicating content, it is ludicrous how the new law exempts tablets running Windows as it treats them as full PCs.
According to French trade magazine Numerama, tablet vendor Archos isn’t too pleased by the lopsided nature of the proposed law and has threatened to join a lawsuit against the legislation. Contending that it lets users turn the company’s Android tablets into full PCs by letting them install Linux on them, the company wants its tablets to be exempt from the levy in much the same way as Windows-based slates.
Armed with a new anti-piracy legislation, which seeks to promote “the distribution and protection of creative works on the internet" using a three-strikes policy, copyright holders in France have launched a massive hunt for illegal downloaders and file-sharers. The Hadopi law, as the three strikes anti piracy legislation is known, makes it incumbent on ISPs to identify alleged copyright infringers when approached by copyright holders with the IP addresses of such persons.
According to a report on a French website, a major ISP admittedly received the first batch of IP addresses a few days ago. The copyright holders are said to have hit the ground running with a very healthy rate of 10,000 IP addresses per day. However, you would probably want me to revisit the cliche in the last sentence on being told that they wish to ratchet up that average to around 150,000 IP addresses per day over the next few weeks.
The ISPs have no choice but to keep up with indefatigable copyright holders as a failure to identify alleged infringers within 8 days of being notified could cost them 1,500 euros per day for every unidentified IP address.
Last week, Google enraged German authorities by disregarding a deadline for submitting unauthorized Wi-Fi data it had amassed while collecting images for its Street View service. The company excused itself by saying that there were possible legal ramifications of such a handover that it needed to review, forcing the Hamburg data protection supervisor Johannes Caspar to hint at a criminal investigation against it.
“We screwed up. Let’s be very clear about that,” Mr Schmidt told the Financial Times. “If you are honest about your mistakes it is the best defence for it not happening again.” According to Schmidt, disciplinary action is currently underway against the software engineer who wrote the meddlesome code.
Google is one of the brightest stars in the tech firmament. But perhaps it would have been nicer for Google had its glow been a touch dimmer. Currently, it is too conspicuous to evade the gaze of authorities and regulators world over – the price of being too big. It once again finds itself caught in the crosshairs of the French government, which isn't too fond of the search engine giant.
The new levy being dubbed the “Google Tax” might also affect other players in the online advertising game, according to Patrick Zelnik, the lead author of the government-funded report behind the entire idea. The French government stands to earn $70 million this year, if it chooses to impose the tax. Zelnick is hoping that his committee's suggestions will be able to convince other European nation's as well.
“There is an opportunity here to promote innovative solutions, rather than extending the attitude of opposition between the Internet world and the cultural world, for example through the approach of taxation,” said Olivier Esper, Google France's general director.
Doesn’t seem to take a whole lot these days to get French knickers in a twist, and Google seems to have accomplished it big time. Rather than let Google--an American company--digitize the works held by France’s National Library, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said France would provide $1.1 billon for the job--France will go this one alone, thank you very much. According to Sarkozy: “We won’t let ourselves be stripped of our heritage to the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is.”
France’s effort comes on the heels of some failed attempts to offset the dominance of Google on the Internet in Europe. France and Germany planned a join-effort multimedia search engine, “Quaero” (Latin for “I seek”), but that’s been abandoned. (Making a search engine is tougher than it looks--ask Microsoft.) And France has been unsuccessful in prodding the European Union to undertake its own book digitization project.
Cash-strapped France plans to borrow the money to digitize the 14 million books and millions of other documents held by the National Library. The European Union isn’t too keen on France’s venture, as France’s debt and deficits are now at record levels. But, this sort of irrational, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants bravado served France well at the outbreak of World War II. It should serve them just as well now.