People Power: Facebook Revolt Sees Off Dodgy New TOS Clause

Facebook Revolt Sees Off Dodgy New TOS ClauseBrandishing virtual pitchforks, a user revolt against a new Terms of Service (TOS) agreement foisted on Facebook fans has seen the company perform a swift volte-face.

Faced with growing masses of outraged users and tenacious Twitterers – and with the thread of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) coming onboard – Facebook crumbled in the face of complaints that their updated terms equated to nothing more than, “We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever.”

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Flickr/Getty Deal: Analysis

Flickr/Getty Deal: AnalysisThe deal between Getty and Flickr, which exclusively gives Getty the right to pick the best images from Flickr and sell them via to their customers in the creative, commercial and editorial industries — they call it the ‘first commercial licensing opportunity for photo-enthusiasts in the Flickr community’ — is, in many ways, inevitable.

Getty have caused a considerable amount of heart ache to professional photographers by re-adjusting their rates and contracts for images in their commercial library.

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Video ID Matches: YouTube’s Anti-Piracy Tools

Video ID Matches: YouTube's Anti-Piracy ToolsAlways keen to stay on top of how content is being used and distributed, a few of us at DL have been playing around with the playlists and ‘channel’ building abilities of YouTube of late.

While compiling and organising collections of strange video that we found, an interesting options popped out at us.

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GPL Legal Action In USA Against Monsoon Multimedia

GPL Legal Action In USA Against Monsoon MultimediaUS company, Monsoon Multimedia is being taken to court for violating the terms of the open source NGU General Public License (GPL) of the BusyBox project.

This is the first time this has happened in the US, as previous infringements have been sorted out through correspondence and talking. Having been through this process already and not getting the desired outcome, the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) feels there is on option by to pursue it through the US courts.
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Google Car License Plate: Sweden

Google Car License Plate: SwedenNews reaches us from Helsingborg, on the gorgeous west coast of Sweden, that some sneaky chap has registered their car license plate as G O O G L E.

Joakim Jardenberg, the clever fellow who thought up the jolly wheeze, has also blogged the adventure (for those of you who read Swedish!).

He raises some interesting points about brands and by extension, individuals registering trade marks as car registrations, while pointing out that “one of the highest valued brands in the world, Google, is now my number plate.”

Anyone for “adPlate or plateSense,” japes Joakim, who is a development manager at the newspaper, Helsingborgs Dagblad (who have the super cool short domain name

Google Car License Plate: SwedenWhat’s Google reaction?
Rather amusingly, Joakim’s been on to Google Sweden and has had a response from Maria Göth, their PR manager.

Google have made a statement about … not making a statement, which reads

We cannot make a statement before we know exactly what has happened. The persons at “Vägverket” (The authority which is responsible for the roads and car regulations) who handles personal number plates is on vacation but we shall contact them on Monday.

We await further news with bated breath …

Many thanks to Anders Olausson, long time chum on Digital-Lifestyles for the pointer.

Beatles Songs For iTunes?

After years of throwing squadrons of lawyers at each other, the big Apples – Apple Inc and Apple Corps – kissed and made up a few months ago and now it looks like they can’t stop the love.

Beatles Songs For iTunes?Yesterday, record company giants EMI Group PLC announced that it planned to unveil “an exciting new digital offering” with Steve Jobs and the gang at Apple, leading pundits to conclude that The Beatles’ music catalogue is finally about to be made available through Apple’s iTunes online music store.

Spinning the expectation-o-meter right up to eleven, EMI revealed that their chief executive, Eric Nicoli, and Apple head honcho Jobs will be holding a news conference today, which will be supplemented by a “special live performance.”

Beatles Songs For iTunes?The Beatles have famously refused to sign up to iTunes and other online music services for years, and many expect the download charts to be instantly filled up with the Fab Four’s songs as soon as their catalogue becomes available.

Of course, the fact that the story broke on April Fool’s Day has led some to think it might be a bit of a jolly wind-up wheeze, so I guess we’ll have to wait to see if the scheduled 1pm conference happens or not.

Mind you, if it is an April Fool’s it’s a pretty crummy one compared to Google’s TiSP Toilet wireless network one.

Who Owns YouTube/BBCWorld?

BBC and YouTube PartnerWhen an important deal like the YouTube/BBC one comes around, we feel we want to find out that little bit extra about it. Sadly neither of the press departments have been given the go ahead to provide journalists any further clues as to how the deal went down.

Given that frustration, we thought we’d apply a little lateral thinking to the situation and have a sniff around in a few places online to see if we can dig up some more.

Lots of investigation drew a blank, but realising that the address of the BBCWorld YouTube Channel hadn’t been given when the press information had been distributed at the announcement, we made a couple of guesses what it might be and it ended up being the obvious one.

One of the questions that we had was how long the deal had taken to negotiate. As mentioned there was no official word on it, but reveals that a channel has been previously setup. The question is, is this an official BBC channel – setup over 9 months ago, or is there a 24 year old Australian squatting the BBC’s channel name.

If it is a BBC channel, it shows that there’s been a very long period of negotiation – 9 months – between the BBC and YouTube to get to the point of them announcing the deal.

If it isn’t, it will be interesting to see what YouTube’s approach will be to an individual registering a name that their largest content partner owns.

Keep your eyes on to find out the answer.

iTunes Illegal Declares Norway Consumer Watchdog

iTunes Illegal Declares Norway Consumer WatchdogNorway has declared iTunes to be illegal because it doesn’t allow songs downloaded from the online music store to be played on any other equipment except their own, today’s FT reported.

This is the first time, worldwide, for action like this to have been successful, despite bodies in other countries threatening the same, including France.

The decision by the Norwegian consumer watchdog, which the FT describes as “powerful” is based on Apple’s restrictive approach breaking their consumer protection laws.

Apple have until the 1 October deadline to make their FairPlay DRM schema available to other technology companies or face fines, or ultimately have the service shutdown.

iTunes Illegal Declares Norway Consumer WatchdogThe original complaint was made by Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor to the Norwegian Consumer Council. He told the FT that “he was in negotiations with pan_European consumer groups to present a unified position on iTunes’ legality.”

Worrying news for Apple, especially when they hear that Germany and France have joined Sweden and Finland. When added together, this comprises more than 100m European consumers.

BPI vs AllofMP3: Granted ‘first hurdle’ by UK High Court

BPI vs AllofMP3: Granted 'first hurdle' by UK High CourtUK British music recording industry trade association, the BPi, has today issued a statement that they have “successfully jumped the first hurdle in its battle to have unauthorised Russian download site declared illegal.”

AllofMP3 has been really getting on their wicks for a long time, as it sells music downloads for normally under $2 per _album_ rather than the 99c per track that iTunes has made standard. Given the choice between the two prices, many people are going the cheaper route offered by

To take action against an entity outside the UK, the BPI is required to apply to the UK High Court. This is what has now been granted.

The BPI’s next steps aren’t certain and they told us that they contemplating various options. Possibilities include taking personal legal action against the owners/directors of AllofMP3 or against the company as a legal entity.

They informed us that various treaties exist between the UK and Russia for pursuing legal actions.

BPI vs AllofMP3: Granted 'first hurdle' by UK High CourtThe argument of the BPI is that AllofMP3 has no right to be selling the music, as they aren’t licensed to do so. AllofMP3 counter that they are “authorized by the license # LS-3М-05-03 of the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (ROMS) and license # 006/3M-05 of the Rightholders Federation for Collective Copyright Management of Works Used Interactively (FAIR).”

We asked the BPI about this and they claimed that ROMS “wasn’t a collection society recognised by the UK industry.”

It’s clear that the BPI isn’t going to just let AllofMP3 continue with what they view as illegal activity. Taking legal action across International boarders is pretty tough, as is enforcing these legal actions. The BPI’s lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee.

ifpi’s words on AllohMP3’s view on their legality

Ofcom GSM Guard Bands License Awards Explained

Ofcom Awards Licenses For The GSM Guard BandsThe frequencies 1781.7-1785MHz paired with 1876.7-1880MHz known as the GSM Guard bands have been made available to 12 licensees under the Wireless Telegraphy Act. They are national UK licenses, though the operators of the licenses will have to cooperate amongst themselves so that interference between themselves doesn’t occur. Ofcom expect the licensees to form an industry body that will self-regulate. Operators will also be required to register all radio equipment in the “Sitefinder” database (currently populated by the GSM and 3G operators).

Even though the licenses are only low power (sub 200mW compared to 10’s of Watts for traditional GSM systems), they are suitable for services such as in-building GSM, local area GSM (such as in a theme-park) or other constrained areas. There are 15 GSM channels available, each one being able to carry 8 voice calls i.e. 120 voice calls in total. Having a reasonable number of channels will allow multiple operators to co-exist in an area and also allow single operators to cover larger areas (in such a way that multiple GSM basestations won’t interfere with each other).

Though it is expected the main use will be low power GSM, Ofcom have not specified what the licenses should be used for and as such, can be utilised for any service, such as localised wireless broadband, as long as the GSM spectral masks are adhered to (which will ensure interference doesn’t occur with the existing GSM operators).

Ofcom Awards Licenses For The GSM Guard BandsWinning Licensees
The 12 companies winning licenses and the prices they paid were: – (note all bids in GB pounds £)

British Telecommunications PLC 275,112
Cable & Wireless UK ( England) 51,002
COLT Mobile Telecommunications Ltd 1,513,218
Cyberpress Ltd 151,999
FMS Solutions Ltd 113,000
Mapesbury Communications Ltd 76,660
O2 ( UK) Ltd 209,888
Opal Telecom Ltd 155,555
PLDT ( UK) Ltd 88,889
Shyam Telecom UK Ltd 101,011
Spring Mobil AB 50,110
Teleware PLC 1,001,880

Ofcom published the complete matrix of bids as the award was for between 7 and 12 licenses. It was a close thing at 8 licenses as a few bidders put in high entries for low numbers of licenses and dropped the amount as the license numbers increased.

Ofcom arranged the auction in a sealed bid process in a “what you bid is what you pay” arrangement, which lead to the lowest price paid as £50,110 by Spring Mobil and the highest £1,513,218 by COLT (30x as much). Some have argued that the highest bidders paid over the odds, but they are putting a good spin on it saying that it’s in-line with their mobile strategy. The total amount of the licence fees paid was £3.8million, not bad for Ofcom’s first spectrum auction.

Of course, compared to the license fees paid for 3G spectrum (around £6bn per license) it’s peanuts.

A license, but what to do with it?
Having a license is all very well, but now licensees must be wondering what they’ve got themselves into. Just because they can run a GSM service doesn’t mean anyone will use it, in fact it may well be difficult to get people onto your network.

It’s extremely unlikely the existing mobile operators are going to want to have anything to do with these new upstarts, they’ve invested millions (err, billions) to get to where they are today. The last thing they want is new entrants poaching customers or moving users off their networks when they move into, say, an office environment. They especially don’t want their customers doing it with equipment (i.e. handsets) that they’ve heavily subsidised.

Unfortunately, what this means is that the new players are going to have to issue new SIMs (Subscriber Identity Modules) and they won’t work on existing GSM networks, or users will manually have to select the new network when they’re in range. This makes it all very difficult, and users won’t bother if it’s hard.

Ofcom Awards Licenses For The GSM Guard BandsNew entrants could enter into roaming agreements with the current operators, but unless Ofcom mandates this (which is unlikely) there’s likely to be strong opposition. Since some of the license winners already have GSM networks, they can offer localised services knowing there’s no interference problems with existing infrastructure.

Deals with foreign GSM operators?
One way ahead is for a licensee to make an agreement with a foreign operator and the localised network just becomes an extension of their foreign network, but then when users roam on to the network they’ll be subject to roaming charges which, as both Ofcom and the EU Government know too well, can mean very high charges for the end-user. If roaming charges do decline then this may well be a way forward.

There’s also a big potential opportunity for the Channel Islands GSM networks here, as they abide by UK numbering plans, so though they are considered “foreign”, their numbers look like UK numbers, including mobile ranges. They could offer roaming agreements and even offer SIMs which would still look like UK numbers.

So the future’s bright, but it will be an interesting few years to see if any of the new entrants can really pull anything off.