Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Mega Strange

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    The release also said links (plural) had been made available for free download of the book. Not true. No-one had those links apart from the uploader and perhaps Whale Oil.

    Slater definitely did obtain the links in some way. They're the basis of his story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    Given Whaleoil's alleged friendship of John Banks and both parties animosity towards Mr Dotcom I can't but think its a Dotcom beatup story for the week that Banks is headline news. A timely distraction using a very newsworthy piece of local content...

    Samuel Scott's idea of having a digital version of books as part of buying the physical copy has massive merit, something publishers should take up (learn) from the music biz

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to SteveH,

    How did they identify those two instances? Mega are not able to access the file contents, right? If they identified the files by name, how did they verify those files were in fact the book itself and not (for example) someone’s review of the book?

    One would assume they found a shared link somewhere to another copy. For a period of time Mega were being quite pro-active in locating publicly shared links to infringing material and taking them down. I'm not sure if that's still happening, but it was a pretty unpopular move among illegal sharers when it started happening.

    In general I think Mega is only really used in small closed-access sharing groups now, otherwise there are many better options.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Mike Kilpatrick,

    Pardon? They took the infringing content down before they normally would have. Unless you believe any potential host/dropbox etc for online files should scan for possible copyrighted material before accepting it, what else are they supposed to do?

    I don't know if they can, around here that's a question way above my pay grade as they say. But should they? I think that's a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Just as I think it's perfectly legit for small publishers like Sam Elworthy and Fergus Barrowman to ask why they should have to put time and resources into playing take down request cat-and-mouse.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Kilpatrick, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yep, my bad. I shouldn't have written 'perhaps'. To suggest, however, as the press release did that links were out there allowing people to download the book freely seems to be drawing a rather long bow given only one person accessed the book on Mega - the uploader.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Vikram Kumar, in reply to SteveH,

    A lot of people have asked how MEGA identified the two files and any implications of that for privacy.

    I saw a tweet that pointed to the blog post on Whaleoil. There were screenshots of the two files, partially obscured. MEGA URLs have two parts- the first points to the file on MEGA and the second (optional) part is the decryption key. Our tech team were able to look at the screenshots and locate them from the first part of the respective links.

    MEGA does not takedown files for alleged copyright infringement without getting a formal notice from the copyright owner or their agent for exactly the reasons you have stated. However, in this particular case, I decided to act without waiting for a formal notice.

    MEGA did not have an ability to look at the files as the decryption keys part of the URLs were too obscured. In line with MEGA's published policy, the company acts on information received rather than make a subjective judgement about a particular file.

    This should re-affirm MEGA's user controlled encryption, i.e. without the decryption key that only the uploader has, MEGA is unable to view stored files. This also applies to doing a general search for a particular file by name as the name of files are also not visible to MEGA.

    MEGA protects privacy but will act when people abuse the service to the extent possible.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    jim.bob1974@gmail.com -- Throwaway or real? Who can say.

    My very first email address was actually jimbob@<some Hamilton ISP that no longer exists>, and I was born in 1974, so hey, maybe that's my secret throwaway email address...

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1822 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Kilpatrick, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I'm not really disagreeing with you Craig (although I think at the moment it's impossible to scan all uploaded content and I don't necessarily think it's a good step to take anyway).

    I do think it's unfortunate that small publishers have to put time and resource into fighting piracy and I do feel for them. If they had chosen their targets more carefully than just blasting Mega on this occasion I could well have supported what they wrote (and possibly shared it around on social media too).

    And I think it's great they've chosen the path of no DRM. Unfortunately for all publishers piracy is going to happen, particularly for high profile books like 'The Luminaries'.

    How they try and minimise that is the key and that's much more complicated than me criticising their press release, so I'll step away from that argument!

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    The question of whether Mega profits from illegally shared material is hard to say. Unlike Megaupload and most other free file lockers, there are no banner ads on Mega’s download pages (also no inducements to signup for a paid account for faster downloads etc), and given that you can get 50GB for free on Mega with just an email address it’s hard to see why a pirate would choose to use a paid account to host illegal files. If anything I’d say that illegal sharing costs Mega money.

    My understanding is that Mega isn’t even that popular within piracy circles as I believe there are download limits enforced also.

    Thank you, that's very informative to this ignorant soul.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I don’t know if they can, around here that’s a question way above my pay grade as they say. But should they? I think that’s a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Just as I think it’s perfectly legit for small publishers like Sam Elworthy and Fergus Barrowman to ask why they should have to put time and resources into playing take down request cat-and-mouse

    Craig, given the information that Mega could (potentially) have at their disposal, even if there were no encryption - a file name, the file itself, an email address of the user associated with the account - how would it be possible to determine if a file is infringing or not?

    I can buy the ebook and store it on my Mega account, that's legal. I can download the ebook on multiple devices and computers from that account (logged in or not). How can Mega determine if my file should be deleted or not?

    Scale that up to hundreds or thousands (or millions?) of files uploaded per day and then what?

    The only workable solution is acting on notice. And even then that can be abused (as it regularly is on YouTube where companies issue takedowns against non-infringing content to silence criticism etc).

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Virtually all music and most other video material is identified by YouTube, which notifies registered owners. Any original master recordings which appear in any context on YouTube effectively remain there with the permission of the rights owners, who collect a small revenue share on them.

    Alternatively, if the rights holder doesn't like their recording being used, they can make YouTube take it down or mute the soundtrack.

    Case in point: a couple of years ago I uploaded a video of me daggy dancing to Madonna's "Into the Groove" that was playing on the in-store music at a Farmers store I was in. Even though it wasn't the pure audio track, as soon as I uploaded it, it was identified as being Madonna's song. It stayed like that for ages, but recently I discovered the audio has since been muted. Which just makes the video look really weird (and also makes me want to replace the soundtrack with something even weirder).

    In conclusion: bloody Warners. I wish they'd get over their issues with YouTube.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1822 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But, of course, using a common, open format also has the side-effect of making your works more amenable to piracy.

    Sure but Macmillan imprint Tor Books (and it’s UK sister) seem to be doing just fine without DRM, and it would be a safe bet Stefan von Holtzbrinck wouldn’t be playing ball if it wasn't the case. (As Amazon discovered, you don't play chicken with the Holtzbrinick Massive lightly.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Hey, all. I have to get out of the bathrobe and go interact with meat people but thanks for the groaning buffet of thought-food. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Vikram Kumar,

    I saw a tweet that pointed to the blog post on Whaleoil. There were screenshots of the two files, partially obscured. MEGA URLs have two parts- the first points to the file on MEGA and the second (optional) part is the decryption key. Our tech team were able to look at the screenshots and locate them from the first part of the respective links.

    Thanks for the clarification Vikram. Can you confirm that the files were only ever downloaded by the same customer who uploaded them as Russell states? In his story Cameron Slater admits to downloading the files (presumably he'll be turning himself into the copyright tribunal momentarily), so if both claims are true then Slater must be the uploader.

    Incidentally we only have Slater's word that the files in question were in fact the novel The Luminaries. So we should be calling this alleged copyright infringement.

    Since Sep 2009 • 316 posts Report Reply

  • Vikram Kumar, in reply to SteveH,

    Yes, the two files were only ever downloaded by the same person who uploaded them and that too only once. This has been confirmed by our log files. Notably, the VUP press release was based on, and relied upon, Cameron Slater's blog post, in that it appears they themselves did not download or independently confirm the alleged copyright infringement.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to bob daktari,

    Samuel Scott's idea of having a digital version of books as part of buying the physical copy has massive merit, something publishers should take up (learn) from the music biz

    If I recall correctly, David Weber included a CD with one of his hard back "Honor Harrington" books that included E-formats of not just that book, but much of his back-catalog.

    One of the claims I've seen is that with so many new books coming out, an author is more at risk of not being noticed than of being pirated, and that giving away e-books (especially of older back-catalog stuff) can lead to increases in both the sales of the back-catalog and new books by the same author.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If you make books deliberately awkward to use with DRM that has side-effects ranging from not being able to copy and paste code snippets to Amazon deleting people's whole library then there's a strong temptation to try and grab an illicit copy - because that copy isn't just cheaper - it's *better*.

    Indeed.
    Adobe digital reader seems to have made it close to impossible to get legitimate titles onto our Sony e-reader. I've wasted a few afternoons, and then bought things on Amazon, despite not having a kindle, and grabbed an e-pub torrent, just to have a copy I could access (while feeling ok about having paid something).
    When the free copy is substantially better than the paid-for version, there's a problem.
    (That said: The Luminaries epub was the easiest, fastest and least painful ebook experience- was reading it within ten minutes of wanting it. Yay for VUP and meBooks)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1353 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Vikram Kumar,

    Yes, the two files were only ever downloaded by the same person who uploaded them and that too only once. This has been confirmed by our log files. Notably, the VUP press release was based on, and relied upon, Cameron Slater’s blog post, in that it appears they themselves did not download or independently confirm the alleged copyright infringement.

    So you're saying that only the uploader downloaded them, and Whaleoil says he downloaded them... The obvious conclusion here is... interesting.

    The allegation of copyright infringement is interesting too - Whaleoil's screenshots simply showed that the files were on the server, not that they'd been shared. If he'd wanted to prove illegal sharing he should have posted a screenshot of a post on some eBooks forum that included the link...

    Storing files in the cloud is not infringing on copyright.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    That said: The Luminaries epub was the easiest, fastest and least painful ebook experience- was reading it within ten minutes of wanting it. Yay for VUP and meBooks

    Credit where due, etc. Good on them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Storing files in the cloud is not infringing on copyright.

    You'll find a few copyright maximalists who'll argue that with you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    When the free copy is substantially better than the paid-for version, there’s a problem.

    This was the case for a math textbook I bought on Amazon this year. The Kindle reader is not designed for text books, that's for sure. You want fast scrolling, topic drilldown, and page numbers. The only nice feature was that it synchronized the page I was reading across devices. I was mighty jealous of the girl next to me who had just made a pdf out of photos of the book on desk-copy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Fergus Barrowman,

    In the interest of transparency, the press release was "Issued for Publishers Association of NZ by Pead PR", and was different from the draft I approved. And no, we didn't attempt to download the files or confirm the alleged infringement.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Stephen R,

    One of the claims I’ve seen is that with so many new books coming out, an author is more at risk of not being noticed than of being pirated, and that giving away e-books (especially of older back-catalog stuff) can lead to increases in both the sales of the back-catalog and new books by the same author

    exactly the same problem musicians (and others) face - there is so much accessible to those consuming art/culture, (that can be digitalised), being released & re-released and the like consumers are overloaded with choice and as such there's a huge drop off in sales from the big sellers (that chart and have major backing/marketing) and the rest

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    It stayed like that for ages, but recently I discovered the audio has since been muted. Which just makes the video look really weird (and also makes me want to replace the soundtrack with something even weirder).

    That's brilliant. You should post it in the next Friday music thread!

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    Assuming Cameron Slater is to be believed, same IP address uploading and downloading doesn’t exactly equate to same individual performing those operations. But it does make it seem likely he was present when the file was uploaded by his “source” as it would have at least been on the same network he then used to download it himself, if not the same computer.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 292 posts Report Reply

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