Oracle: A Gentle, Dulcet Reminder of What It Takes to Survive in the Digital Jungle

March 12, 2020

Before It Sued Google for Copying from Java, Oracle Got Rich Copying IBM’s SQL” is a deerskin moccasin stroll through a dark, dangerous thicket. A company with a penchant for oatmeal container architecture and renaming roadways should serve as a flashing yellow light.

The write up uses phrases like those favored by DarkCyber; for example:

Oracle’s history highlights a possible downside to its stance on API copyrights.

Yeah, but history is a consequence of bright individuals who seize on a particular molecule from the event stream. History does not highlight anything. Humans like lawyers, analysts, and writers do. The “possible downside” is a hedge against a former Marine who can be — ah, what is the word, — “frisky”.

The write-up says:

Oracle got its start in the 1970s selling a database product based on the then-new structured query language (SQL). SQL was invented by IBM. And Oracle doesn’t seem to have gotten a license to use it.

Yikes. What’s this mean? DarkCyber turns to the article for guidance:

Oracle got its start copying IBM’s software interface.

Yes, that’s clear.

Plus, there’s a molecule from the event stream; specifically:

Around 1977, Larry Ellison and his co-founders spotted an opportunity. They had recently started a software consulting company called Software Development Laboratories, but they wanted to transition to selling a software product. Ellison realized there was enough detail in IBM’s white papers to clone IBM’s database technology. He also realized that it would provide a credibility boost if he could say that their new Oracle database was fully compatible with IBM’s SQL standard. According to one of SQL’s designers, Donald Chamberlin, Ellison was so determined to achieve compatibility with IBM’s technology that he called Chamberlin in 1978 seeking more details about IBM’s implementation of SQL.

The digital equivalent of the two largest blocks in the former Soviet union sat down to talk turkey about Java. Oracle “owned” it; Google had some Sun Microsystems’ employees who had a bit of experience with the “write once, run anywhere” methods.

The write up states:

Google claims that “negotiations broke down over issues unrelated to money.” Google says Sun sought more control over the evolution of the Android platform than Google was willing to offer. So Google decided to build its own version of Java without a license from Sun.

The river flowed, and the rushing waters are behaving with the oddball physics of fluid dynamics. Oracle was thrashed; Google was cyclonic.

The roaring river of legal fees has reached the Supreme Court. Will the legal dam of the copyright crowd hold, or will the “let the digital water flow” of the Google crowd prevail?

The write up creeps quietly away, offering this statement:

…fair use is a notoriously complex and subjective legal standard. Any company wanting to make its software interoperable with a competitor’s product would have to worry that the competitor could sue, arguing that this use wasn’t as fair as Google’s use of Java. Most software companies don’t have Google’s legal resources or staying power, so the prospect of a lawsuit—even one they’re likely to win—could be a major deterrent to building interoperable software.

The shadow of no or reduced interoperability falls. On the other hand, consultants, integrators, resellers, and innovators see a new dawn rising.

Go with history. The sun comes up every day, at least so far.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2020

Server Obfuscation Explained

January 28, 2020

An online information service published an article about copyright enforcement: “Patreon Can’t Solve Its P#rn Pirate Problem.” Why can’t a service block its customers who are allegedly violating copyright?

Here’s the legal explanation:

Despite its gung-ho statement to Kotaku two years ago, Patreon now says its terms of service effectively tie its hands. “We can’t do anything,” says Colin Sullivan, Patreon’s head of legal. “We don’t enforce [copyright] because we don’t have a license to the content.” In other words, it’s legally on Patreon’s creators to enforce copyright on their own work.

Here’s a technical explanation about how Yiff Party remains difficult to pin down:

Yiff.Party’s backend is a bit of a chimera by design. Dozes employs a bit of tech called a “reverse proxy.” A typical proxy obfuscates the identity of the user accessing a server; a reverse proxy hides the identity of the server the client accesses. Between Yiff.Party’s server and the Yiff.party website sits another server. “Yiff.party’s main server stays hidden because the ‘real’ IP address isn’t being exposed since traffic is routed through a proxy,” says Dozes. Reverse proxies aren’t uncommon; large sites might use one to help them run faster. “It’s essentially a VPN, but for a website,” Dozes says. “If our real hosting provider found out they hosted the site, we would be at risk of losing all our data.”

Interesting, particularly the idea of “creators.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2020

Libraries Fight Publishers In Ebook Limitations

October 17, 2019

Public libraries are an equalizing tool for people who do not have access to technology, books, and other materials that come with higher incomes. Unlike academic and textbook publishers, popular book publishers have had working relationships with libraries for decades. One of the biggest publishing houses in the United States might bring that to an end if they instill limitations on ebooks. The Stranger shares one library’s story against publisher in, “Seattle Public Library ‘Denounces’ Publisher’s New E-Book Policy.”

Come November 1, 2019, Macmillan plans to only sell one digital copy of newly released ebooks for half price. Libraries will also be forced to wait two months before they can buy more copies and that will be at the full retail price. Digital ebooks sell for $60, but are $30 for many libraries due to their non-profit status.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s reasoning makes sense from a company trying to make a profit:

“The rationale behind this move, according to a draft of a memo to authors written by Macmillan CEO John Sargent, is “to balance the great importance of libraries with the value of [an author’s] work.” Sargent argues that library lending is “cannibalizing sales” of e-books. He thinks the embargo will help the e-books sell better online, and claims to have data proving that the publisher makes far less on “library reads” than they they do on “retail reads.””

Librarians speak the truth about the issue, because they are in the trenches where the action takes place. Libraries act as free PR for publishers and assist them in selling books with the profits going directly to the publishers, not libraries. Libraries also pay for ebooks than physical copies, despite it being cheaper to release ebooks.

This is going to hurt people with lower incomes, because they use libraries to get books they otherwise would not be able to afford.

The libraries, as always, will bear the brunt of this decision, because the general public does not understand or know about lending agreements between libraries and publishers. Authors could get bad reputations as well.

The number of people using ebooks and audiobooks has dramatically increased not only for the Seattle Public Library, but for libraries across the nation. Libraries have collected data that proves their circulating collections, physical and digital, do increase sales and boosts readership.

Libraries will also spend money, because of the products and services they offer people. If the price of ebooks go up, they will be forced to limit their collection’s holdings which will decrease circulation and the amount of people who visit. It would also lead to a decrease in readership and even book sales.

With an ever increasing cost of living, increasing the price for luxury goods like books will do more damage than boost sales. As a public institution, libraries have a good reputation and will give Macmillan a run for their pages.

Whitney Grace, MLS, October 17, 2019

YouTube and Copyright: Changes Made

September 11, 2019

Finally YouTube Changes Its Horrible Copyright System

YouTubers love and hate their platform of choice. They love that they have the freedom to make videos, but they hate YouTube’s unfair copyright infringement system. If you are unfamiliar with YouTube’s copyright infringement system, then read Gizmodo’s article, “YouTube Announces Some Changes To Its Infamously Awful Copyright Infringement System.”

The opening paragraph says it all:

“The number of issues plaguing YouTube at any one time boggles the mind, and range from accusations it promotes extremist content to reports its nightmare algorithm recommended home videos of children to the pedophiles infesting its comments sections. One of the less overtly alarming but still widespread issues has been the shoddy state of its copyright infringement claims system, which report after report have repeatedly indicated is trivially abused to file false claims, extort creators, and generally make YouTubers’ lives hell.”

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced in July 2019 that there would be numerous changers to the copyright claim system. The copyright claim system is different from the copyright infringement system, because the former is manual. Anyone who files a claim through the copyright claim system will need to input exact timestamps of the violation, instead of flagging an entire video.

Before YouTubers were not told how one of their videos violated a copyright claim. The new timestamp system will highlight the video’s section that is under scrutiny. YouTube will also promote more of its tools to make a video copyright compliant, such as muting sound or deleting a segment. These tools were available before, but YouTubers were unaware of where in their videos the problem was.

Problems still exist for content creators using copyrighted material for reviews, education, research, or news. Many YouTubers who make these types of videos claim their content falls under fair use guidelines.

Maybe the suffering of some YouTubers will lessen. Maybe.

Whitney Grace, September 11, 2019

Professional Publishers, Release the Legal Eagles

July 19, 2019

Most people don’t pay any attention to professional publishing. There are some folks who live and breathe the world of academics who write, fame loving lawyers who write essays about the “law”, and bright individuals who just want to share what graduate students have discovered. There’s also wonky papers cooked up so that the “authors” can attend a conference in Las Vegas, where some dreams can become reality.

Nature published “The Plan to Mine the World’s Research Papers.” The subtitle asks the question, “A giant data store quietly being built in India could free vast swathes of science for computer analysis — but is it legal?”

The answer may be, “Sure, the project is in India, a country which has taken an interesting approach to production of name brand pharmaceuticals.”

The write up is very long: Here’s a summary.

Copy journal, technical, and professional papers. Extract the text and images. Tag the content. Make the data available for data mining.

Simple enough.

DarkCyber noted this statement in the write up:

When Nature contacted 15 publishers about the JNU data depot, the six who responded said that this was the first time they had heard of the project, and that they couldn’t comment on its legality without further information. But all six — Elsevier, BMJ, the American Chemical Society, Springer Nature, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences — stated that researchers looking to mine their papers needed their authorization. (Springer Nature publishes this journal; Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its publisher.)

How many universities, researchers, and editors working at professional publishing companies would find a use for this information when it is free?

Enough to tip over the classy, little understood worlds of:

  • Tenure track processes
  • Library budgets
  • Professional publishing companies themselves.

Worth watching? Yes, indeed.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2019

Starz Confuses Inconvenient for Infringing

June 4, 2019

Surely, Starz sees its actions as simply cracking down in illegal content access, but TorrentFreak tells a different story in, “Starz Doesn’t Like News About Leaked TV-Shows, Takes Down TorrentFreak Tweet.” As it is wont to do, TorrentFreak reported a recent leak of several shows, including Starz’ “American Gods,” and auto-tweeted a link to the article. Soon, though, the tweet could no longer be seen; Starz had requested it be withheld as “infringing.” Writer Ernesto relates:

“According to the takedown notice, Starz argues that the tweet is infringing because it links to an article where people can see ‘images of the unreleased episodes’ and find more information about their illegal availability.’ For the record, our article only includes a single identifiable frame from a leaked ‘American Gods’ episode, to show the screener watermarks, which are central to the story. That’s just 0.001% of the episode in question, without audio, which is generally seen as fair use, especially in a news context.

As for the claim that the article includes information about the shows’ ‘illegal availability’, we only mention that they are being shared on pirate sites, without giving any names or links. That’s no ground for a takedown request.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s senior staff attorney agreed, and the write-up declares TorrentFreak’s intention to pursue the matter. As of this writing, it seems they persuaded Starz to see things their way, because the tweet is back in place.

Cynthia Murrell, June 4, 2019

Amazon Twitch: Streaming Copyright Protected Content? You Betcha!

May 30, 2019

I found the “insight” in “Twitch Is Temporarily Suspending New Creators from Streaming after Troll Attack” amusing. The least popular game on Twitch, an Amazon property, has been outed as a streamer of copyright protected content. Yeah, that’s news.

I would point out at 0733 am US Eastern on May 30, 2019, that Ciklonica, one of Twitch’s more interesting chat performers, is eating and streaming the Big Bang television program dubbed in Russian.

Here’s a snap taken at 0730 am US Eastern on May 20, 2019:

ciklonica sanp

How is Amazon’s SageMaker artificial intelligence system doing when it comes to recognizing streaming content with titling? What about the human reviewers who are working valiantly to manage the game lovers?

Maybe Google’s decision to kill its game streaming service is the equivalent of a mixed martial art corner man throwing in the towel.

I describe some of the more interesting content in my Dark Web 2.0 lecture next week at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference. The scope of copyright protected content theft is remarkable. Amazon Twitch is just a chuckle because regular Amazon does what it can to prevent its customers from stealing the “regular” service’s content.

Maybe the Amazon smart software technology can’t police Twitch? Maybe Amazon is looking the other way so it can assert plausible deniability about SweetSaltyPeach chatting? Maybe Amazon simply lacks the management expertise to deal with Twitch’s “how to cheat your friends at cards” information.

Games. Let them begin at the “real” news outfits and in the Twitch-verse.

Stephen E Arnold, May 30, 2019

Amazon Twitch Shakes Its Digital Fist Which Hits the Bits

May 29, 2019

In my talk on June 4, 2019, I have a couple of comments to make about illegal streaming services. One of my examples of outright copyright violation is Twitch. The DarkCyber team has been tracking popular music streamed during “game related chats” like pole dancing and body stretching exercise sessions. Individuals who play US television shows dubbed in Russian are waving their Fortnite weapons at US television producers. We also have examples of a Russia Today affiliate streaming the more visual incidents associated with yellow jacket protects. There are other examples of how the game streaming system is being manipulated. No Dark Web needed.

Amazon Twitch tries to curtail these activities. Some of them are just futile. There is a streamer from Florida who happily drives and live streams. The “star” often moves the camera around. Distracted driving? No just another example of what gamers can access without doing much more than clicking a link and popping a word or phrase into the Twitch search system.

Now the “real” media has discovered what the young at heart have known for quite a while: Amazon Twitch, like Facebook and YouTube live video, is a bit of a challenge. “Twitch Is Temporarily Suspending New Creators from Streaming after Troll Attack” documents one facet of the “live streaming” problem. From banning BadBunny (a star whom one pays to insult her followers) to SweetSaltyPeach (a star known for wearing interesting clothing and assembling toys), Amazon Twitch needs a rethink. DarkCyber is not sure cursing, soft porn, and stolen content are what some individuals think the service should be delivering. But there’s always the chance that DarkCyber cannot divine the master plan of the Bezos bulldozer.

The write up points out:

Twitch’s statement acknowledged that they “became aware of a number of accounts targeting the Artifact game directory” over the weekend. Twitch’s team also recognized trolls were using the category “to share content that grossly violates our terms of service.” The majority of the accounts that “shared and viewed content were automated.”

Now about Amazon’s Sagemaker system. Is it able to deal with Amazon Twitch? Humans to the bulldozer controls. On the double.

Stephen E Arnold, May 29, 2019

Legal Eagles and a Church Steeple

May 10, 2019

The new Notre Dame Spire may be protected by copyright.

Though the spire’s exact design is yet to be determined, the Notre Dame cathedral will certainly be rebuilt. By the time it is, will posting selfies in front of the finished masterpiece be considered a copyright violation? Techdirt describes “Why Your Holiday Photos and Videos of the Restored Notre Dame Cathedral Could Be Blocked by the EU’s Upload Filters.” We’re told that EU copyright law lets countries decide whether to protect the copyrights on architecture, sculpture, and other artworks in public view, or to grant “freedom of panorama.” France chose the freedom, with one key exception—any images used commercially require permission. Reporter Glyn Moody writes:

“This is why pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night taken for commercial purposes require a license: although the copyright of the tower itself has expired, the copyright on the lights that were installed in 1989 has not. And it’s not just about the Eiffel Tower. As the credits at the end of this time-lapse video show (at 2 minutes 10 seconds) other famous Parisian landmarks that require copyright permission to film them include the Louvre’s Pyramid and the Grande Arche in the French capital’s business district. It is not clear whether taking photos or videos of these landmarks and then posting them online counts as commercial use. They may be for personal use, and thus exempt in themselves, but they are generally being posted to commercial Internet services like Facebook, which might require a license. That lack of clarity is just the sort of thing that is likely to cause the EU Copyright Directive’s upload filters to block images of modern buildings in France — including the re-built spire of Notre Dame cathedral, if it is a new design.”

Moody is very critical of the Copyright Directive, the legislation that harmonizes copyright law across the EU, as favoring corporate interests over citizens. He notes that full freedom of panorama across the union has been proposed, but that France resists the idea. Even so, unless and until personal social media posts come to be considered “commercial,” the threat of censored vacation photos remains academic.

Cynthia Murrell, May 10, 2019

Happy Holidays: Google News May Be Mortally Wounded

December 25, 2018

I read “Google Says EU Rules Will Force It to Cut News Services.” My first reaction was, “There goes traffic to the news Web sites.” Then I thought, “What traffic?”

The write up reports:

Google has claimed it will be forced to slash the range of news thrown up by its search engine if European rules to protect copyright owners come into force.

Those copyright rules were, in part, triggered by Google itself. The click loving newspapers took a middle of the road approach: Not good, not bad.

Now the EC has cranked out a copyright regulation with Article 11. The lingo refers to “neighboring rights.” The idea is that Google has surfed on hard working journalists’ work. I assume the fraudulent stories in Der Spiegel are not included. (Yikes, a back link. Trouble looms for the Beyond Search goose.)

If the GOOG sticks in a link, the GOOG has to pay the publisher. It gives me a headache to think about the “who”. Many newspapers are pastiches of content from a wide range of sources. The copyright sensitive Associated Press is not going to be happy if one of its syndicated stories is not handled in a way that makes the AP’s legal eagle happy.

To sum up: The Google News death watch has begun. Will the GOOG survive or will it succumb to the EC’s immune system?

Stephen E Arnold, December 25, 2018

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