Paul Gregg

Jack of all Tech.

On Software and Game Copyright and Second Hand sales.

Written By: pgregg - Aug• 07•2012

 

This morning I got into a little twitter spat with a local game developer Matt Johnston. Basically he is arguing against companies like GameStop because they do not provide any revenue back to the original developers of the game. As he is a game developer, he is very obviously on the side of the games companies.

Matt made a blog article and very nicely quoted me in the article – one of the tweets during the to-and-fro conversation. Well as much as 140 characters allows.

Matt makes several points, one of which is that if we allow* a second hand market, then DRM will happen; and we don’t want DRM, so we shouldn’t have a second hand market.

(* note that it is not the right of the games companies to allow or ban it in the first place).

DRM is a red herring and not at the heart of the issue. DRM may be the games companies answer to the problem it perceives – but at the end of the day, DRM only hurts those people who actually pay for the game.

I could go onto many underground sites and find the latest games “for free”. Who wins there?

I don’t as I do believe the game should be paid for. I have a large collection of both Wii originals, and a large Steam archive.

Having said that, morally, I have a real objection to the games companies thinking they can ride roughshod over consumer rights and long established principles and doctrine of first sale.

The second hand market is both legal in the physical works *and* in the digital world. And thankfully we now have case law to back this up.

Last month, in the EU, Oracle lost a case (Oracle vs UsedSoft) trying to prevent resale of licenses to its software.

The court wrote:
“A rightholder who has marketed a copy in the territory of a Member State of the EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy.”

Further, Oracle, and Matt here, opposes further distribution based on licensing terms. The court also rejected this view, thus:
‘The principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website. Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy.
‘Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.’

http://www.gamerlaw.co.uk/2012/07/legality-of-second-hand-sales-in-eu.html
http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2012/07/04/curia-digital-distribution/1

In summary, as a gaming company, you would love to make income on the second hand sales of your games, who wouldn’t.  However, morally it is wrong.

Would you like the government to charge VAT on second hand goods? No? – they already got their cut, as have you in your first sale.

Thankfully, the law agrees with me.

 

Image: http://www.stockvault.net/photo/106338/video-game-controller

Leaving Menshn for good

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 11•2012

I’ve decided to close my Menshn account, folks. It’s over.  After four weeks of micro-menshning and meeting great friends and colleagues (largely not on Menshn), I’m off. It’s been amazing but it never provided the community feeling it once promised.

So I’ll be posting my rants on twitter and my blog instead, and I’ll be blogging more here and writing for a range of other channels.

Friends can email me via the usual address, add me on Facebook or connect with me on twitter.com, where my username is pgregg.

So to my hundred (automatically assigned) followers – see you around – it’s (mostly) been a pleasure, but largely a technical disaster.

Menshn: Another password design flaw

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 11•2012

Ok – so I forgot my password on Menshn, again, and went to reset my password. Normal email address+token thing – except I noticed another problem.

Menshn emails you a link in the form:

pwreset.php?e=email@address.com&c=8chartoken

At least they are not emailing plain text passwords again. But, I noticed that the token link can be used both multiple times, and it does not expire.

Requesting a new token to be emailed to you invalidates earlier tokens – however it remains the case that the most recent pwreset token stays valid.

Ooops. Bad Menshn, bad. Back to the naughty corner for you.

At least clear the stored token when the user uses it once (and ensure you don’t accept blank tokens).

Menshn DNS is a (technical thingy).

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 10•2012

So Menshn changed their DNS and stopped their site working for a number of users.

Users pointed it out and Menshn did what Menshn does and blamed everyone else but themselves. I call it the Apple Defence. Or #You’reHoldingItWrong.

What Louise probably doesn’t know is that whoever is advising her*, plainly doesn’t know the first, or last, thing about DNS.

*assuming she has an advisor, perhaps Bozier, as no geek worth his (or her) salt will ever say “technical thingy”.

No Louise, DNS migration does not take 24 hours. It is not the fault of the other ISPs. It is your own fault.

Now Louise and Bozier have both blocked me on twitter, but I’m a magnanimous chap – in the words of Sid [Ice Age] “I’m too lazy to hold a grudge” – so I’ll tell them how to fix it next time.

DNS records have this little number attached to them called a TTL – or Time To Live. Normally the domain TTL is 86400 seconds, or, as you’ve found, 24 hours. This number is entirely within your control. It is the number *you* give to other ISPs when they ask for your zone information. So when their systems receive that data, they can, rightly, assume that the data is good for the next 24 hours.

Thus, when you are planning a domain/DNS change – what do you do? You lower the number to an acceptable outage window, e.g. 60 seconds on your original DNS zone(s) servers. Further, you need to do this at least 24 hours in advance of the change to allow the existing longer TTL records out there to expire.

Thus when you switch DNS servers, or server IPs, your maximum outage window is the new lower TTL.

Welcome to the Internet. It’s a technical thingy.

Louise Mensch, MP, brands me a spammer.

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 09•2012

So after my latest round of tweets with Corby MP Louise Mensch nee. Bagshawe, she has effectively called me a spammer and forbade me from tweeting her any longer (or I’ll be blocked). So be it. I won’t tweet her any more.

She has invited me to email her – but why would I do that? That just makes everything private – and I can be more easily ignored in private.   I did highlight the latest copyright infringements on Menshn to her, however that has yet to be rectified on the site.

So, since I’m now apparently a spammer it is time to question Ms. Mensch’s understanding of a few words.

1. Democracy. You would think a Member of Parliament would get this one right. Apparently not.

We’ll take Wikipedia’s opening paragraph:

Democracy is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizens of a nation together determine public policy, the laws and the actions of their state, requiring that all citizens (meeting certain qualifications) have an equal opportunity to express their opinion.

 

2. Censorship.

Again, lets take Wikipedia’s opening paragraph:

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

3. spam. (using lowercase because Hormel trademark requests the capitalised version remain for the lunch meat product).

Again with Wikipedia:

Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media…

So, I’m not quite sure what the metaJesus thing is all about – but basically I’m a spammer.

All my messages (see previous blog posts), including *everything* on Menshn and tweets has been critical comment. Pointing our flaws in their web site, security, and actual Copyright Infringement. Not complaints; and most certainly not spam by any definition.

Is there a lesson here? Yes. If you talk about something that Mensch doesn’t want to talk about or hear, Louise will define your message as “spam”, delete, block or otherwise censor you. Thereby enabling Menshn to claim they do not censor (except when they want to).

Ironic however, that Louise doesn’t want me to tweet her, yet does invite me to comment via email – which is closer to the definition of spam!

Perhaps one of her Corby constituents will pass her a dictionary. It appears she may have use of one.

I will not be tweeting this message to Louise or I’ll be blocked from her twitter feed also, but please feel free to let her know yourself.

I’m also done with Menshn. I am obviously not welcome as my preferred topics of conversation are not catered for.

Further examples of Copyright Infringement by Menshn

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 08•2012

Following on from my earlier article on Copyright Infringement by Menshn and a find on Menshn co-founder Luke Bozier’s personal web site, I found a few more copyrighted images that Menshn are using without proper attribution.

When you create an account on Menshn, you get randomly assigned a profile picture from their library of, supposedly, Creative Commons images. Except, Menshn’s view of Creative Commons appears to amount to “I found it on the Internet so it must be OK”.

Here’s one of Eleanor Roosevelt, original image is owned by “onecle” with a license of “Attribution, Share-alike”. Menshn has no Attribution.

 

Here is another one of a cast of Susan B. Anthony, original image owned by “cliff1066TM”, again with an Attribution license.

Menshn’s other co-founder, Louise Mensch has at least taken some interest in my articles – so I expect they will be gone* soon.  (*rather replaced, because if they are deleted, many individuals are going to have a broken profile picture).

Now taking bets on how long it’ll take before I get bored of all this. (#joke, lest I fall foul of some gambling law somewhere)

 

First rule of Menshn is talk about Menshn, unless you are on Menshn.

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 08•2012
  1. The first rule of menshn is you do talk about menshn. Please feel free to invite your friends, spread the word, and post about us on Facebook and Twitter.   (c) Menshn, Screenshot below:

Yet, if you do talk about Menshn within Menshn – you will get banned.

Yes, I got banned. I talked about Menshn in the Menshnabout room (and before that existed, the politics ones).

Here is Menshn co-founder admitting this (because all I ever posted in Menshn were messages about Menshn, mostly critical, or pointing out that they were committing Copyright Infringement offences).

 

Edit: Found a cool plugin that lets me import tweets as comments, so I have pulled in the relevant conversations from twitter. Louise did not post what you see below, I used the plugin to pull them in.

Let’s use Wikipedia’s page on Censorship, which defined it thus:

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

In this case, the controlling body is Menshn, or to be more precise, its co-founders and staff. The speech or public communication is criticism of Menshn. Menshn admits it will block this speech. Therefore, Menshn engages in censorship. Q.E.D.

Now, would any reasonable person be able to say Censorship does not exist on Menshn? I believe the evidence speaks for itself and the evidence is damning.

 

Why Menshn will fail

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 08•2012

One of the driving factors of social media is the human need to be heard. The belief that somewhere, out there, someone is not just interested in what you say, but more fundamentally, has the ability to hear (or see) what you say (and write).

When the Social Media platform fails in that most fundamental of principles then you have to wonder about its long term prospects for survival.

I created several different accounts on Menshn, using different browsers and networks to simulate how multiple individuals would interact. (note that the rules do not prohibit this)

One thing stood out above all others – any posts by these accounts in any “room” or topic, does not appear in that room. Even when I wait hours, none of the posts appeared visible to the other accounts watching that room.  The posts are visible to the account who posted the message – just not anyone else. That, my friends, reduces the confidence in the service and as others begin to realise the futility of their efforts will result in the demise of the network.

When you lose the trust of the public, the network is doomed.

Abiding by the first rule of Menshn, please spread this article. :)

The first rule of menshn is you do talk about menshn. Please feel free to invite your friends, spread the word, and post about us on Facebook and Twitter.

 Final note: I did not, and do not, engage in any unauthorised intrusion attempts to collect any information in my research. All research is purely from observations that could be made by any individual.

Blog change to WordPress

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 07•2012

Well, I thought after calling out Menshn for security flaws, I ought to check if my Movable Type was up to date. It wasn’t and one of the changelogs suggested I should upgrade.

However, the upgrade went badly leaving me unable to login at the blog level, or anyone to comment. Admin area was fine.

My upgrade path to Movable Type 5 was blocked because they decided to remove Postgres support. So it put it into the same camp as WordPress. Conveniently there is a PG4WP “plugin” (hack) that lets (most of) WordPress work on Postgres, yay!

Cut to the chase, WP + PG4WP installed. Blog exported/imported. Comments migrated – however I lost a few comments because of a bug in the WP Import incorrectly creating SQL for some articles. Didn’t like the <span style=”color: rgb(0, 0, 187);”> one little bit.I recreated the 4 missing entries manually, but the comments from the originals refused to import.

A mod_rewrite rule to strip the .html from the old MT page urls, and things should be up and running.

 

 

 

Luke Bozier of Menshn has form on Copyright Infringement

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 05•2012

3rd in my series of articles about Menshn.

So, today (or last night), Luke Bozier blocked me on twitter. Seems like a pointless act since anyone not logged into twitter can read all his posts anyway.  However, it did cause me to google his name and I came up with two personal web sites of his for his blog at:
Out of interest I had a click through some articles and came across an image on:
Well no, not murder, but yes Copyright Infringement.
You see the image of the Chernobyl Guard is (c) Trey Ratcliff at http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-433927398 and all he asks for the use of the image is Attribution. However, Luke Bozier does not provide that attribution.
Screenshot of Luke’s site at the time of this article (because Luke is quite efficient at removing the images when I call him out on his law breaking).
45-luke-bozier-copyright-infringement-1-thumb-500x487-44.jpg