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Several organizations including domain name registrar Namecheap are asking the public to protest a new ICANN proposal that will ban private domain name registrations. The proposal was heavily lobbied for by various copyright holder groups, who want to make it easier to expose pirate site operators. In recent months copyright holders have been increasingly pushing for changes in the domain name industry. Groups such as the MPAA and RIAA, for example, want registrars to suspend domain names of clearly infringing websites. While this is unlikely to happen on a broad scale in the near future, a new ICANN proposal may put an end to private domain name registrations for some websites. A new proposal (pdf) will no longer allow â€˜commercialâ€™ sites, which could include all domain names that run advertisements, to hide their personal details through so-called WHOIS protections services. This change is backed by copyright holder groups including the MPAA, who previously argued that it will help them to hold the operators of illegal sites responsible. â€œWithout accurate WHOIS data, there can be no accountability, and without accountability it can be difficult to investigate and remedy issues when individuals or organizations use the Internet in illegal or inappropriate ways,â€ MPAAâ€™s Alex Deacon said recently. â€œEnsuring this data is accurate is important not only to the MPAA and our members, but also to everyone who uses the Internet every day.â€ On the other side of the spectrum, the proposal has ignited protests from privacy advocates and key players in the domain name industry. Digital rights group EFF points out that copyright holders can already expose the operators of alleged infringers quite easily by obtaining a DMCA subpoena. This is something the RIAA has done already on a few occasions. EFF further warns that the new rules will expose the personal details of many people who have done nothing wrong, but may have good reasons not to have their address listed publicly. â€œThe limited value of this change is manifestly outweighed by the risks to website owners who will suffer a higher risk of harassment, intimidation and identity theft,â€ EFFâ€™s Mitch Stoltz writes. Namecheap, one of the largest domain registrars, also jumped in and sent a mass-mailing to all their customers urging them to tell ICANN not to adopt the new proposal. â€œNo WHOIS privacy provider wants their service to be used to conceal illegal activity, and the vast majority of domain owners are not criminals. Using a WHOIS privacy service is no more suspicious than having an unlisted phone number,â€ Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall notes â€œThese new proposed rules would wreak havoc on our right to privacy online. ICANN is moving quickly, so we should too â€“ contact them today and tell them to respect our privacy,â€ he adds. ICANN is currently accepting comments from the public and Namecheap is encouraging its customers to use the Respect Our Privacy campaign site to protest the proposed changes. Of course, Namecheap has more to worry about than the privacy of its users alone. The company itself operates the Whoisguard service and earns a lot of revenue through these private registrations. Thus far most of the responses received by ICANN have come in through the special campaign site, arguing against the proposal. The commenting period closes in two weeks followed by an official report. After that, the ICANN board will still have to vote on whether or not the changes will be implemented. https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-concerns-may-soon-kill-domain-name-privacy-150625/
Amazon Amazon introduced a new file storage and collaboration service calledZocalo thatâ€”on first blush, at least, looks like it might be a Dropbox killer. Much like Dropbox and other cloud storage services, Zocalo lets you sync files between the Amazon cloud and your phone or PC. It has a business twist too, helping IT staffers control who gets access to which files. The product must be making some Dropbox executives uneasy, because unlike its other big competitorsâ€”Google and Microsoftâ€” Dropbox itself is a pretty big Amazon customer. The startup uses Amazonâ€™s S3 storage service to store the more than 500 million files that get uploaded to Dropbox each day. Thatâ€™s going to make it pretty much impossible for Dropbox to undercut Amazonâ€™s pricing. Zocalo starts at $5 per user per month for 200GB of storage. Dropbox charges twice that for half as much storage. But price isnâ€™t everything, and Dropbox still has a several advantages that Amazon will be hard-pressed to overcome. 1. Sync is incredibly hard to get right Dropboxâ€™s greatest strength is that it makes syncing files with the cloud and sharing them with other users seem so easy. But itâ€™s not. Behind the scenes, Dropbox has a vast system of software keeping track of which files have been edited when, and who has access to what. Sync is a particularly difficult problem, and one small bug can lay waste to years of important user data. Err the other way, and youâ€™re constantly resurrecting long-deleted files. Amazon has the technical chops to build a reliable storage and synchronization system, but making it as invisible to the end-user as Dropbox is no easy task. Dropbox has a seven-year head start here. And customers have shown, again and again, that theyâ€™re actually happy to pay more money for a tool with fewer features as long as itâ€™s easy to use. 2. Dropboxâ€™s â€œusers firstâ€ strategy Dropboxâ€™s strategy has always been to win end-users over first, then sell to the business side. Amazon is taking the opposite approach, by appealing directly to businesses. The problem with this approach is that even if Amazon is successful in selling its service to a business, the managers of that business still have to convince their employees to use it. Employees who are already Dropbox might not want to make the switch â€” especially if Zocalo ends up being even slightly harder to use than Dropbox. Could Amazon appeal directly to end users in this space? It already tried that with Amazon Cloud Drive, which is still around, but has been largely forgotten since its 2011 launch. 3. Branding Amazon already has a dizzying number of services and features under the Amazon Web Services umbrella, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. And the company is always adding more. That means it could be easy for the product to be overlooked, much as Cloud Drive has. Thatâ€™s made all the worse by the name Zocalo. In Spanish, ZÃ³calo means â€œplinth,â€ which is a platform for pillars or statues. It can also refer to the Plaza de la ConstituciÃ³n, the public square in the center of Mexico City. Unfortunately, itâ€™s not a word that means much to non-Spanish speakers, and itâ€™s particularly hard to remember. Bu now, just about everybody knows about Dropbox. Independence Ahead? Of course itâ€™s not all smooth sailing for Dropbox and other competitors. This move will put pricing pressure on Dropbox, and it may need to spend some of $1.1 billion itâ€™s raised on gaining more independence from Amazon. Startups are always in danger of being squashed by larger companies and bigger marketing budgets and the ability to undercut them on cost. But that problem is magnified when youâ€™re running your service on infrastructure owned and operated by the same big companies you have to compete with. Weâ€™ve already seen this with Amazon Prime, which competes with Netflix, another major Amazon Web Services customer. But Amazon is still a long way from killing Netflix, and thatâ€™s good news for Dropbox. http://www.wired.com/2014/07/amazon-zocalo/
The MPAA is concerned that innovation in the film industry will be ruined if consumers get the right to resell movies and other media purchased online. Responding to discussions in a congressional hearing this week, the MPAA warns that this move would limit consumer choices and kill innovation. mpaa-restrictedThis week the U.S. House of Representativesâ€™ Committee on the Judiciaryâ€™s Subcommittee Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing on the issue of â€œdigital resales.â€ In other words, whether consumers should be allowed to sell digital videos, music files and software they purchased previously. Proponents of the rights to resell digital goods want the First Sale Doctrine to apply in the digital domain as well. However, this argument is meeting fierce resistance from the entertainment industries who see this right as a threat to their online business models. For example, the record labels previously pointed out that MP3s are simply too good to resell, as they donâ€™t deteriorate in quality. Responding to the hearing in Washington, the MPAA also voiced its critique of the plans. According to the movie studios digital resales would hamper innovation, increase prices and decrease the availability of online film. In their view it would undo most of the innovation the Internet brought. â€œCritics say the movie and television industry was slow to embrace the Internet. But ironically, now that online video is ubiquitous, some of these same critics are trying to reverse time and drag the creative communityâ€”along with audiencesâ€”back into the pre-Internet era,â€ MPAAâ€™s Neil Fried notes. The ability to resell movies bought on the Internet has the potential to create a huge secondary market. This would make it much cheaper for consumers to access media, and the MPAA believes therefore that content creators will be wary of making it available in the first place. â€œA new government mandate requiring creators to allow reselling of licensed Internet content would undermine incentives to create, reduce consumer choices, and deter innovation,â€ Fried argues. â€œForcing creators to allow resale of Internet content they license would either require creators to substantially raise prices or discourage them from offering flexible, Internet-based models in the first place,â€ he adds. The MPAA believes that those who want to own movies and resell them should stick to the offline world. The physical ownership model doesnâ€™t translate to the online world, which is better off with a licensing scheme that restricts resales. â€œThis is a relatively new marketplace. Government intervention now, seeking to force the content community to return to a 1908 construct built around physical ownership, will only short-circuit the experimentation and innovation that is going on all around us,â€ Fried says. Of course there are also many people who object to the arguments of the copyright holders. John Ossenmacher, CEO of the MP3-reselling platform ReDigi, gave a testimony during the congressional hearing where he laid out a variety of counterarguments. According to Ossenmacher the content owners are trying to change consumer rights that have been in place for more than hundred years, only to guarantee maximum profit for themselves. â€œThe First Sale doctrine is premised on a simple concept â€“ you bought it, you own it â€“ and it has never concerned itself with a specific format or technology, nor with the condition of the goods being resold. It establishes the commonsense principle that the creator deserves to be paid once, and then the owners, and subsequent owners, have the right to resell that good, to donate it or to give it away,â€ Ossenmacher said in his testimony. â€œIt is not an extreme position to advocate that â€˜you bought it, you own it.â€™ It is a logical, conservative position that adheres to the long-standing principles of law. It applies in every other type of good; it should apply here as well,â€ he added. It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out in the months to come. One thing is for certain, we havenâ€™t heard the last of it yet. http://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-consumer-right-resell-online-videos-kill-innovation-140608/