FryUp: Sovereignty ACTA est

It's a Goofy world when Disney writes New Zealand law. Plus: Telecom's journey

Operation transformation fiction Yes you did, Brett. And on Google Wave too. (Language warning) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcxF9oz9Cu0 Sovereignty ACTA est

Quick question: during the last election, or the one before that, did you as a voter give National or Labour a mandate to negotiate away sovereignty and ask them to introduce draconian copyright enforcement laws? If you didn’t, you should certainly poke your nearest MP about the super-secret ACTA negotiations currently and ask some pointed questions as to what the outcome of those will mean for New Zealand and its subjects. ACTA stands for the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” but it’s being extended to include copyright enforcement, natch. New Zealand is party to the ACTA talks — it seems a stretch to call them “negotiations” as they appear by and large be the dictate of rights holders who would like further maximise their copyright takings. Not that we know for sure of course, as ACTA talks are secret. Really very secret indeed, judging by how quiet our parliamentarians are about an issue that could have huge ramifications for their electorates. And yes, ACTA is where the "terminate your internet account on accusation" idea comes from, as enacted in New Zealand law with the controversial S92A and S92C clauses. Just to be clear here, the latest spillage of info from ACTA says we’re not talking about going after commercial counterfeiting operations. Instead, it’s non-commercial alleged copyright infringement. You share a file of any kind, as in posting a picture of something to Flickr, and pop goes your internet connection if there’s a complaint that it infringes copyright. Likewise, mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players are subject to searches on entering other countries. If you can’t prove you have the right to keep for instance song files on a device, it’s confiscation time. Or is it? We’re not being told what’s being agreed to at ACTA and we may never know until laws like S92A reappear in our books. EU’s initiative to defang ACTA-induced madness could be an example worth following in a stronger, better form that actually protects people’s rights but sadly, there’s nobody to champion such things in the Beehive. EU agrees on internet users rights EU kills three-strikes proposal (yay!) but all is not well (eek!) Copyright treaty is policy laundering at its finest ACTA update: a question of sovereignty, says law professor Groups complain of continued ACTA secrecy Public Knowledge: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Mark Harris: Mount up people, the real fight is just beginning

Telecom’s tough task

CEO Paul Reynolds’ task to clean the Augean stables after the Gattung era at Telecom isn’t an enviable one. If you look at the heritage Gattung left at Telecom, only the Southern Cross Cable System stands out as a positive one — and even that could’ve been better, had Telecom snapped up MCI-Verizon’s ten percent share when it was up for grabs. Other than that, Reynolds is dealing with a legacy that has the Commerce Commission watching Telecom’s every move like a hawk, and a government that assumes the incumbent is only interested in short-term business gains and doesn’t care about societal goals. That’s probably an easier position to be in rather than one that requires solid vision for the future and anticipating customer needs, but it does make Telecom just another telco. Nothing special, that is, and certainly not the technology and communications partner of the future for New Zealand it could’ve been. The new XT network shows a little what Telecom can do, if it sets its mind to it. Despite unkind comments from the competition, the truth is, XT didn’t fall over and die soon after launch. Sure, it’s had its share of teething issues, but feedback so far points to XT running just fine. But, XT is a cautious, conservative play to catch up with Vodafone while keeping the legacy fixed-line business primed for as long as possible. Maybe if that structural separation hammer came down hard on Telecom’s head, it would actually be better for the company? Telecom Q1 profits up ComCom goes legal over alleged separation breach Gen-i takes big earnings hit in September 09 quarter

Ascent of a humble editor

Actually, he was never that humble, our Paul, which is understandable now that he has attained enlightenment as an exalted social media guru, swooping down on the capital on November 18.

Having left this illustrious organ behind, Mr Brislen welcomes any and all questions on how he makes his new "controversial tool" work for Vodafone. Oo-err. Roger that. Perhaps we'll come along to listen to the guru "prattle on about the internet".

A Prinz among men

XKCD

Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X Cringely It's Apple's world, we just click in it

People can't get enough of Apple's aura of cool. But a bit more humility would make the company easier to live with

Well, it finally happened. Digital versions of the Beatles' catalog are finally coming to Apple. It's just not the Apple you're thinking of.

On December 8, you may be able to buy all of the recently released digitally remastered Beatles songs — along with 13 mini video documentaries — on an apple-green 16GB USB stick stuck into an apple-shaped container, courtesy of EMI and Apple Corps, the corporate entity started by John/Paul/George/Ringo way back when. The DRM-free tunes will only cost you US$280, or roughly $100 more than the same music in a 13-CD boxed set on Amazon. Only 30,000 will be sold, so if you're a BeatleManiac you'd better act now and pre-order yours (operators are standing by). A clever marketing ploy? You bet. And it works precisely because of the point I alluded to in my first paragraph: When you think of digital music, it's always the second Apple that comes to mind. Remember, Apple Corps has sued Apple Computer several times over the past 30 years on various copyright and trademark issues. This silly little product is clearly Apple Corps' cheeky way of tweaking Steve Jobs and years' worth of "the Beatles are coming to iTunes" rumours. This is yet another demonstration of the profound influence Apple Inc has had on our culture, and not just among the geekerati. The news is chock-full of examples. Like:

  • Today Apple announced that more than 100,000 apps are available for sale in its iPhone store — blowing away all of the other mobile platforms combined. Apple has created the App Economy, just as it created the Digital Media Economy with iTunes. Along the way, it's revolutionised our notions of what software is supposed to do and what you can expect to pay for it.

  • Microsoft just announced a dog-to-dish makeover for MSN.com's home page, its first full redesign in 10 years. As AllThingsD's Kara Swisher points out, it's "Apple-icious": "The new MSN homepage debuts tonight and you would be completely correct for thinking the recipe Microsoft has cooked up to inform its design ethos — white, clean and hiply modern — has definite echoes of a certain longtime tech rival....That would be Apple, of course, with a big dollop of Twitter and Facebook tossed in and finished off with a generous sprinkling of Microsoft’s new Bing search service."

  • Yesterday, consumer shopping site Retrevo released yet another of its silly surveys, this one about the iPhone. The results? Apple iPhone owners think owning cool gadgets is three times as attractive as having a college degree; roughly the same percentage would consider dumping a potential partner if they had uncool gadgets (like, say, a Windows smartphone); and one out of three iPhoners has actually used their beloved handset to dump said person. The iPhone generation sends more texts, reads more news, watches more video, and, yes, surfs more porn than users of BlackBerrys. They also have higher opinions of themselves.

Like I said, silly. Thing is, in the pre-iPhone epoch, nobody would have thought to survey Nokia or Motorola phone users about their lifestyle choices. It's the notion that owning an iPhone defines you as a type (the way using a Mac defined you as a type) that's key. Call that one the Gadget Ego Economy.I don't need to go into the Apple Tablet rumours that erupt virtually every week. In fact, just putting the words "Apple Tablet" into this blog post automatically boosts its Google Juice (so expect to see a lot more completely pointless references to that mythical device from here on out).Apple mania is becoming a cultural obsession, and not necessarily a healthy one. So there's little wonder why Apple is often so arrogant and impossible to deal with, for users and developers alike. The company's obsession with control — from what users can do with Apple products they've purchased to what bloggers can reveal about the company's future plans — is legendary. When you're the king, you don't have to worry about the peasants until they're storming the castle walls.A little more humility would make Apple an easier company to deal with, without damaging their aura of cool. As a wise man once said: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.Is Apple too powerful? Post your thoughts below or e-mail me: cringe@infoworld.com.

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