03 December 2010

Piracy at the PC Swap Meets

Following up from the article about a Minnesota Woman being fined $1,500,000 for downloading 24 songs, see article:


in Australia, PC Swap meets are organised at government venues, e.g. Town Halls that allow sellers to sell their PC equipment, on Saturdays and Sundays.

Also for sale, by the same definition, CD's / DVD's of pirated software are being sold by not one but at least 3 vendors.

The government is FULLY aware of this 'illegal' practice, but this has been going on for quite some time.

In the United States a private individual has been 'crucified' for downloading 24 songs (at $1.10 each) to the value of $24 dollars.

The individual pictured in this post is one of those people selling software at the PC Swap Meets. Naturally, their identity has been suppressed for obvious reasons.

Any action or inaction will be posted on the corpau blog.

Minnesota Mom Hit With $1.5 Million Fine for Downloading 24 Songs

What's the value of a song? Jammie Thomas-Rasset has spent the last few years in court debating that question. The Minnesota mother of four is being penalized for illegally downloading and sharing 24 songs on the peer-to-peer file-sharing network Kazaa in 2006, but how much she owes the record labels has been in question. The jury in her third trial has just ruled that Thomas-Rasset should pay Capitol Records $1.5 million, CNET reports, which breaks down to $62,500 per song. It's a heavy penalty considering the 24 tunes would only cost approximately $24 on iTunes, which was Thomas-Rasset' argument, too.

Thanks to Thomas-Rasset's colorful case, she has become the public face of the record industry's battle with illegal downloaders. In her first trial, in 2007, the jury demanded she pay $222,000 for violating the copyright on more than 1,700 songs by Green Day, Aerosmith and Richard Marx, to name a few. (Marx said he was "ashamed" to be associated with the "farcical" prosecution of an illegal downloader.) Thomas-Rasset maintained she wasn't the computer user who did the file sharing, and her legal team cited an error in jury instruction to secure a second trial in 2009 that ended with a much harsher result: an astronomical fine of $1.92 million. However, earlier this year a U.S. District Court judge found the $1.92 million penalty against Thomas-Rasset to be "monstrous and shocking" and "gross injustice" before lowering it to $54,000, or $2,250 a song. Thomas-Rasset and her legal team decided to appeal that decision, too.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the organization that represents the four major record labels, was pleased by the most recent decision, even if it has no intention to collect the $1.5 million from Thomas-Rasset. "Now with three jury decisions behind us along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset's willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions," the RIAA said in a statement. Earlier this year, the RIAA offered Thomas-Rasset the opportunity to end the legal battle for $25,000 and an admission of guilt; Thomas-Rasset declined.

Burying a Midwestern mom in insurmountable debt isn't the best publicity move, so rather than argue the labels are entitled to the cash, the RIAA has sought to make this trial into a cautionary tale for anyone considering illegally downloading music -- a reminder that there are penalties. But as the constantly declining weekly Nielsen SoundScan sales figures demonstrate, nothing seems to have deterred music fans from stealing rather than purchasing songs and albums. And in a digital world now dominated by Bit Torrent and Rapidshare, a trial over a music-sharing dinosaur like Kazaa seems nothing but antiquated. (Last month, after a decade of illegal file sharing, peer-to-peer service LimeWire was shut down by the government, much to the surprise of the millions who thought LimeWire had faded years ago into the Internet ether.)

Still, Thomas-Rasset and her legal team are already making plans to appeal, setting the stage for a fourth trial. "The fight continues," promised Thomas-Rasset's lawyer Kiwi Camara. Even if Thomas-Rasset were to win the next trial, the RIAA would likely appeal that decision to ensure that copyright infringement without penalization won't happen. This story has the potential to drag on well into the next decade -- when for $1.5 million, all of Thomas-Rasset's four kids could finish law school and take up the fight on her behalf.

new.music.yahoo.com 4 Nov 2010

In Australia the so called theft of property or piracy also occurs.

This is done in the form of Computer Swap meets that are organised at Government Town Halls.

That being, blatantly right in front of the government's nose.

When corporations steal a similar (24 songs at $1.1each = USD$24) or lesser amount, they are NOT penalised by their own legal system, ONLY rewarded for stealing from the public.

Dick Cheney faces bribery scandal charges in Nigeria

Nigeria's anti-corruption agency is to charge former US Vice-President Dick Cheney over a bribery scandal that involves a former subsidiary of energy firm Halliburton.

The case centres on engineering firm KBR, which admitted bribing officials.

A lawyer for Mr Cheney said allegations he was involved in the scandal were "entirely baseless".

Mr Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive before becoming vice-president to George W Bush in 2001.

A spokesman for the anti-corruption agency, Femi Babafemi, said the charges were likely to be brought against Mr Cheney next week.

Mr Babafemi said the charges were "not unconnected to his role as the chief executive of Halliburton".

KBR last year pleaded guilty to paying $180m (£115m) in bribes to Nigerian officials prior to 2007, when it was a subsidiary of Halliburton. The firm agreed to pay $579m (£372m) in fines related to the case in the US.

But Nigeria, along with France and Switzerland, has conducted its own investigations into the case.

Mr Cheney's lawyer, Terence O'Donnell, said US investigators had "found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton".

"Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless," Mr O'Donnell said.

Office raid

The bribes concerned the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in southern Nigeria.

KBR and Halliburton have now split, and Halliburton says it is not connected with the case against KBR.

Halliburton denies involvement in the allegations.

It has complained that a raid on its office last week by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission officials was "an affront against justice".

Ten people were detained for questioning and later released.

A prosecutor quoted by the Agence France-Presse news agency said those charged would include former and current leaders of Halliburton and officials from firms in a consortium involved in the LNG plant.

Nigeria is a member of the oil cartel Opec and is one of the world's biggest oil exporters.

bbc.co.uk 2 Dec 2010

Nothing new here.

Corrupt business dealings and corporate crime a (illegal) 'normality' at the top end of business / politics.

If and when these deals come out the real repercussions are muffled by the politicians and people involved, and generally the punishment, is not served.

Politicians then hide the fact of the allegations, by drawing attention that the information obtained, if from leaked document is 'illegal'.

Welcome to a new age of whistle-blowing

They have been denounced as "a criminal act" and hailed as the future of investigative journalism in equal measure.

But the question is: how did the Wikileaks disclosure of US military documents come about?

More than 90,000 documents, dated between 2004 and 2009, on the war in Afghanistan, have been released, but the whistle-blowing website will not disclose the identity of any of its sources.

In the aftermath of one of the biggest leaks in US military history, the US government will surely not be the only one wondering how this happened. 'Mishandling information'

After scrutiny by the Wikileaks website, the site gave access to the documents to three newspapers - the New York Times, Der Spiegel and the Guardian - ahead of public release.

As the media rushed to publish the story, the press were soon asking who might be behind such a huge leak - if, indeed, it was one person at all.

The Pentagon has already launched an investigation.

Wikileaks, which has a policy of protecting its sources, has not given any detail as to how many sources it received the documents from, or when it received them.

Media speculation has so far focused on 22-year-old Bradley Manning, an army intelligence analyst who is accused of mishandling and leaking classified information.

Private Bradley Manning US Private Bradley Manning is being detained in Kuwait

Specialist Manning, reportedly known by his screen name bradass87, was charged on Monday with eight violations of US criminal law and four violations of army regulations.

These include the leaking of a 2007 video of a deadly American helicopter attack in Baghdad.

Spc Manning is currently being held in pre-trial detention in Kuwait after being arrested while working in Iraq.

He is alleged to have released files kept contained on the Department of Defence's Secret Internet Protocol System (SIPR).

But Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says that there was "no allegation, as far as we can determine, that this material is connected to Spc Manning."

In any case, did he alone leak the sheer volume of records that has been released? If not, then will it even be possible to find out who did?

Start Quote

With technological advances - the internet, and cryptography - the risks of conveying important information can be lowered”

End Quote Wikileaks


But it is not about who has done it, but how, that is most important here. The true perpetrator of aiding the disclosure of confidential files is technology itself.

Such an initiative would have been far harder if at all possible - and more dangerous - 20 years ago.

As the Wikileaks website says itself, "with technological advances - the internet, and cryptography - the risks of conveying important information can be lowered".

The site, born in December 2006, now boasts more than a million documents.

Described on one blog as the "first stateless news organisation", Wikileaks has servers in countries which include Sweden and Belgium, where it benefits from press secrecy laws.

The idea behind the site is the need for transparency, with the basis being that it allows anyone to upload content, which will then be looked at by a group of volunteers, all journalists, who decide what to publish.

On submission of a document, which is encrypted, Wikileaks promises to prevent it being "technically traceable to your PDF printing program, your word installation, scanner, printer" and to make the contributor anonymous from an early stage.

'Easier than ever'

The homepage of the WikiLeaks.org website is seen on a computer after leaked classified military documents were posted to it July 26, 2010 Wikileaks says it makes contributors anonymous from an early stage

The release underscores the significance of technology to the future of journalism and transparency - and signifies a considerable shift between authorities and whistle-blowing.

By teaming up with national papers, the documents were able to reach a wider audience.

Unsurprisingly, though, the site has drawn its detractors - including those who would prefer it did not exist.

On the website, a leaked document, purportedly by the US army counterintelligence centre, looks into the threat posed by Wikileaks to national security - and how to marginalise it.

"The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistle-blowers could potentially damage or destroy [the website's] center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site," the document reads.

Start Quote

We have files that concern every country in the world with a population of over one million people, including the United States”

End Quote Julian Assange Wikileaks founder

If anything, this only proves that Wikileaks is succeeding at causing waves.

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the disclosure on the Afghan war was reminiscent of the 1971 leak of Pentagon files about the Vietnam war.

But - as opposed to the so-called "Pentagon Papers" - which were handed in hard copy to a journalist, "now you can take even more documents and give them to the whole world", he told AFP.

There are always going to be those who want to leak information, he says, but now it is easier than ever.

Meanwhile, Mr Assange says he believes that "courage is contagious" and that Monday's leak would encourage other whistle-blowers to step forward.

In a news conference on Monday, he said the organisation had "files that concern every country in the world with a population of over one million people, including the United States... Thousands of databases and files".

How the US government will react to such a high-impact disclosure is not known, but it should take note of what can happen when so many people have access to confidential information in a digital age.

According to an investigation by the Washington Post earlier this month into the US intelligence sector, 854,000 US citizens have the highest level of security clearance.

That's a lot of potential leaks.

bbc.co.uk 27 July 2010