WINOL: Features Archive

At the age of just 15, Paul Blackburn was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years. Presented, edited and produced by Tom Morgan.

Media Law - Year Three Notes Archive

A collection of posts looking at media law, including tips for journalists, case examples and information on the various codes of conduct. Click here for more.

American Election 2012 - US Embassy Report

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty McDonagh spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

Work Experience: The One Show

This blog post serves as a summary of what I got up to during my time at the BBC and also provides some information on how the One Show is run.

Work Experience: PC Advisor

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The first of these placements was at PC Advisor in London.

Work Experience: Basingstoke Gazette

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The second of these placements was at the Basingstoke Gazette.

HCJ Notes Archive: Year One and Year Two

A collection of lecture notes, seminar papers and seminar summaries from Year One and Year Two on the HCJ course at the University of Winchester

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Lawsuit Against Hurt Locker Downloaders Targets Record Number of Users

The producers behind the 2008 blockbuster Hurt Locker are filing a lawsuit against American users who downloaded the film illegally using the online BitTorrent client.

BitTorrent, released in 2001 by American software developer Bram Cohen, allows users to share large files between themselves in small amounts of time.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Hurt Locker has won six Oscars including best picture and also managed to scoop up over $17 million at the US box office. This recent case against piracy is now the biggest file-sharing lawsuit of all time.

Kathryn Bigelow (Pictured above) behind the scenes during shooting, which began In 2007

Originally, the suit was filed against approximately 5,000 I.P addresses, however 20,000 further downloaders have since been added to the list. Voltage Pictures hope the lawsuit will help recover revenue lost to piracy.

The writers over at TorrentFreak have managed to get their hands on the document that lists the I.P addresses of those being targeted. It is available HERE.

The producers behind the award-winning film are expected to settle for cash payments from the users that obtained Hurt Locker through illegal means, or to be more precise, through peer-to-peer-file-sharing networks. The process of identifying the downloaders will be particularly difficult, considering both the sheer number of those who pirated the film and also the fact that many may have hidden their I.P addresses by using internet networks different to their own.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Facebook Founder and Google Chief Address Internet Regulation

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attended the second day of the e-G8 forum this week, addressing the issue of Internet regulation.

The e-G8 forum is a 'unique gathering of the world's top Internet and digital leaders', as the official website claims, with personalities such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and eBay president John Donahoe arriving at this years meeting in France.

Zuckerberg made it clear that he was against increasing regulatory measures being implemented in the future, saying: “You can't isolate some things you like about the Internet, and control other things you don't.” Zuckerberg has joined Internet activists in an attempt to battle against complete governmental control of the net, with many other influential characters associated with the world of online media echoing his thoughts. The 27-year-old entrepreneur said it will be difficult to find a way to regulate the Internet and also allow it to evolve.

 
  French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Pictured above) supports online regulation [Image:Getty]

Google's chief Eric Schmidt, who also attended the 2-day gathering in Paris, agreed with Zuckerberg, describing how technological developments will make governmental attempts for control redundant. He told attendees: “Technology will move faster than governments, so don't legislate before you understand the consequences".

In contrast, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he was in favour of strict online control. Existing laws in France concerning piracy laws are already particularly tough and Sarkozy wishes to maintain this level of authority in other areas of the web.

Online regulation is yet to affect 'Wikileaks' however, a website that, in its own words, aims to reveal 'suppressed and censored injustices'.

Other issues such as the downloading of illegal materials were also on the agenda this year. Currently, over 60 countries censor the Internet in some form and statistics released recently have shown this number continues to rise.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Hargreaves Report Aims to Overhaul UK Copyright Laws

On the 18th May the Hargreaves review was finally published, taking a look at the British law systems current stance towards copyrighted material, patents and the transfer of music files.

Professor Ian Hargreaves proposed a digital marketplace to be implemented by the end of 2012, from which copyright content can be purchased and sold. Hargreaves' system has been described as a 'content exchange'.

2 years have passed since the report, entitled 'Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth', was requested by David Cameron. 

 The report encourages an overhaul of current UK copyright rules and regulations [Image: ComputerActive]

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has told the media he is fully behind the ideas put forward in the Hargreaves report, stating: “In recent years, the UK has failed to make the changes needed to modernise copyright law, for which we will pay an increasing economic price as we make our way into the third decade of the commercial internet.” He went on to add that he 'supported' plans to make alterations to the copyright system.

The professor shared his idea of an improved system for dealing with content where the rights owner isn't known, also addressing what should and shouldn't be considered 'unlawful' when it comes to copying music to and from devices. At present, current laws 'obstruct innovation and economic growth in the UK', the report states.

Hargreaves argues that copying music from CD's to portable media players should not be considered 'unlawful', which it is as things stand. This digital transfer process is used on a regular basis by MP3 owners, yet is still technically illegal.

When asked about his opinions towards Britain current copyright system, Hargreaves said: “In recent years, the UK has failed to make the changes needed to modernise copyright law, for which we will pay an increasing economic price as we make our way into the third decade of the commercial internet.”

The Hargreaves report may prove to be the answer to adapting and improving an admittedly old-fashioned system.

Sales Figures for Amazon's Kindle Put Print Books to Shame

Online retailer Amazon.com has revealed that online sales figures for its reading device, the Kindle, have outweighed those of print books.

In their press release the company revealed that 'for every 100 books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books.' Furthermore, the press release notes that if Amazon's free Kindle offerings were included in this figure (which they weren't) the figure would be even greater.

What does this have to say for the future of print books? An article on Engadget earlier this week stated that sales of e-books in American generated approximately $90.3 billion in revenue in February this year. Clearly, the technology associated with the e-book has not only proved itself to be easy to use and versatile in nature, but massively popular also.

Amazon's Kindle, pictured above, is the world's most popular e-book reader [Image:static.guim.co.uk]

Amazon's latest announcement will be bad news for print retailers and independent booksellers, whom are clearly affected financially by the Kindle and similar devices.

When asked if he had forseen the potential success of the Kindle, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said: “We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly - we've been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years.”

The Kindle bookstore now offers users a collection of over 950,000 paid titles and over 1.8 million free titles.

Three Minute Philosophy - Quick, lighthearted Revision

I've embedded a couple of videos from this YouTuber in my past posts on the blog, but I thought it would be useful to post all the relevant videos into this post for quick access to all the content.

YouTube user 'CollegeBinary' produces a mixture of hand-drawn cartoons describing the backgrounds and key works of history's philosophers, many of whom we have discussed as a part of the HCJ course. It's a nice way of revising the material because the videos themselves are fairly funny yet manage to make some good philosophical points and arguments. Below is a list of the videos that talk about philosophers we've discussed in the past.

Three Minute Philosophy - Plato

Three Minute Philosophy - Kant

Three Minute Philosophy - David Hume

Three Minute Philosophy - John Locke

Three Minute Philosophy - Rene Descartes

J'accuse and the Dreyfus Affair - Seminar Summary

The Dreyfus Affair is a story of social injustice, following the wrongful conviction of French army captain, Alfred Dreyfus.

After secret documents were found in a waste paper bin at a German embassy, it became obvious that the French had a spy at the facility. The documents that were discovered discussed the future plans of the French military. Somebody in the French army was taking documents and handing this information to the Germans.

The French army framed Dreyfus, claiming it was him that was passing around the sensitive information. There were many reasons why Dreyfus was chosen to take the blame, but the most obvious was due to an overwhelming sense of anti-Semitism from the army. The fact Dreyfus was a particularly clever individual also made him seem suspect. After being pronounced guilty of treason, Dreyfus was sent to 'Devil's Island' in 1894, which remained part of the French penal colony until 1952.

A writer and novelist named Emile Zola (Born 1840) was present at Dreyfus' trial, and was disgusted and horrified by the way the French captain had been framed. This was ultimately his reasoning behind writing the famous 'J'accuse' article - to expose the Government for their actions. Unfortunately, Zola was tried and convicted of libel as a result of J'accuse, which saw him fully identify those he felt were guilty.

J'accuse was published in 1898, on the front page of 'L'aurore', a Paris daily paper. It was a massively controversial article, because it exposed the government for falsely accusing Dreyfus and knowing that they were doing so. The article was addressed to the President of France, Felix Faure. After its publication, the article became one of global interest. J'accuse is a fantastic example of how Journalism can be used to spread a message to the public and expose the truth. As Zola states himself, 'my duty is to speak, I do not wish to be an accomplice'. This phrase helps convey the freedom of the press and the power of Journalism.


Eventually, an officer decided to look further into the case in the search for truth, and found evidence suggesting Dreyfus had indeed been wrongfully accused. The identity of the real culprit was discovered - Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. Because of Zola's article, Dreyfus was allowed to leave Devil's Island. However, the duration the writer had spent at the penal colony meant he returned a broken man, unable to speak properly and physically and emotionally exhausted.

Throughout J'accuse, Zola personifies France, with phrases such as 'but what spot of mud on your name' and 'France has this stain on her cheek'. These common references to France being left tarnished after the affair give an insight into Zola's attitude towards the situation, also suggesting that such marks can be fixed by exposing the truth.

Addressing the President directly, Zola suggests that the affair will not only affect the reputation of France, but also its government. He writes: "History will write that it was under your presidency that such a social crime could be committed". Zola suggests that the president will be remembered as the person who allowed such a 'social crime' to take place, without making any attempt to bring justice to the ill-accused.

On a personal note, I think Zola is a man to be greatly respected for his courage. He clearly knew of the implications of publishing J'accuse, yet chose to go ahead with it anyway due to his overwhelming belief that framing an innocent man was wrong and the truth needed to be known. The writer is more than willing to directly name those he holds responsible. For example, he refers to Lieutenant Colonel du Clam as 'nefarious' (Wicked, cruel, immoral) and then goes on to speak of him as 'the first culprit in the appalling miscarriage of Justice'. J'accuse concludes with Zola listing those who he feels play a key role in Drefus' false conviction.

Zola points out that there are a number of people who are not only corrupt, but manage to maintain a position of great authority. Such figures include the minister of war, General Mercier ('whose intelligence seems poor') the head of high command, General De Boisdeffre ('who appears to have yielded to his clerical position') and assistant manager of high command, General Gonse ('whose conscience puts up with many things'). Of these characters, Zola argues Du Paty de Clam is the most influential and therefore the most corrupt. He has the power to shape the actions of the other individuals mentioned.

Many links can be drawn between the Dreyfus affair and the case of Stephen Lawrence. Stephen was a black 18-year-old student who was the victim of a racial attack. He was stabbed to death whilst waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April, 1993. The Daily Mail picked up on the case 4 years later and published the names of five men who they believed were Stephen's killers. The headline used by the newspaper read: "Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us." Obviously, the clear link between the Mail's article and J'accuse is that in both cases the people the writers held responsible were positively identified and challenged.

The Daily Mail clearly identified the men they believed were behind Stephen's murder

Below the Mail's headline was a picture of the 5 men who had been named. To this day, the men identified have not sued the paper. The case of Stephen Lawrence led to alterations in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Following the changes, it was decided retrials would be allowed if there was 'new and compelling evidence' to justify doing so.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Sony In Customer Data Breach, Users Furious

I've held back on writing about the Sony hack attack recently because there have been so many developments in the story and I quite like the idea of having some form of summary of the situation on the blog. It's proven difficult as new information has been surfacing on pretty much a daily basis, but here's my look at the recent Sony hacking attack.

Let's start from the beginning. On April 21st, via the official PlayStation Blog, Sony posted a message to the site titled 'Update on PSN Service outages', stating: "While we are investigating the cause of the Network outage, we wanted to alert you that it may be a full day or two before we’re able to get the service completely back up and running". At this time, there was no sense of the scale of the problem. Sony customers were merely told the online service would be inaccessible for a short while.

For those who are not familiar with the 'PlayStation Network' (otherwise known as the 'PSN'), it is an online service which enables Sony PlayStation 3 owners to download content from an online store after inputting credit card details and other personal information including home addresses, billing information, names and ages.

Photograph: Julian Stratenschulte/Picture Alliance/Photoshot

Two days after the original notice to customers, Sony posted another, admittedly more sinister-sounding message onto the blog which said: "An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th."

On 26th April, Sony confirmed they had become the victims of a successful hacking attempt resulting in the names, addresses and passwords of approximately 77 million users being compromised. This places the hack as one of the largest ever attacks on a commercial organisation. Naturally, the PlayStation Blog was completely flooded with furious users demanding to know more about the situation. What caused the most upset was the fact that the company had known about the hack for a week, yet had failed to keep customers informed as the story developed.

Sony were slow to respond to questioning initially, but have since claimed that the credit card details stolen from their servers were encrypted. This means that it is not as easy for hackers to obtain the information as first thought. Users on the blog have also expressed their anger, expressing confusion over how an electronic giant like Sony could be so careless with confidential, private customer data. There's a clear risk of identity theft here, which could be massively damaging.

Former editor of 'GamesIndustry.biz', Rob Fahey, has slammed Sony, writing "[they were] on the short list of firms I trusted to the same level as Amazon, Apple and their ilk with my personal and financial details. No longer".

It's not just consumers Sony are having to answer to, either. Governments and agencies across the world are demanding information. Parties such as the FBI and Government Privacy Officials from Australia, Canada and the U.K are in contact with the company. Reports state Sony has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Diego. Its 'cybercrimes' unit is said to be conducting an investigation.

A screenshot of the PSN's online interface

Since the news of the hack surfaced, web analysts have attempted to calculate the financial damage the attack has caused. Michael Pachter, a gaming research analyst, claims that Sony lost at least $10 million in revenue and $3 million in profits in the initial week the PSN was down. Obviously, as the service remains offline, Sony continue to lose substantial amounts of money. This is a massive mistake for Sony and the Online Security Team, made evident by the 5.2% drop in Sony's stock price since the breach took place.

On a personal note, I feel it'll be particularly interesting to see whether the recent Sony hack will effect online content purchases from other sources. Customer loyalty may also alter financial income for Sony in the future. Will customers be willing to trust the company again with their details after such a massive mix up?

On 20th April, Sony announced plans to begin the arduous restoration of some online services this week. The company has claimed services will be restored by region. Some customers claim the service is back online in part of Japan, but this has not been officially confirmed by Sony. If you're a PlayStation 3 owner like myself, I'd make a note of the following statement from Sony:

"To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit reports."

That's a summary of the situation so far. As a PlayStation owner myself, I'll be following this story carefully. I'll post again in the future with an updated summary of the situation.

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