UK, US Play Piracy Tug-of-War
Today in international tech news: British officials blast America's "ludicrous" extradition request, Europe OKs the Sony-led purchase of EMI assets, a Chinese micro-blog vanishes after one day, and more.
04/19/12 8:37 AM PT
There is cross-party pressure in the UK to stay the extradition of 23-year-old Richard O'Dwyer, who founded a website that shared links to TV shows, according to reports.
Last month Theresa May, the UK home secretary, approved the extradition request to send O'Dwyer to the U.S., where he faces up to 10 years in prison for copyright violations.
O'Dwyer's website, tvshack.net, was founded in 2007 and acted as a search engine for TV shows, directing people to both authorized and unauthorized sites. U.S. authorities claim that O'Dwyer netted nearly more than US$230,000 from advertising during the three years he ran the site.
The president of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, called on Theresa May to review her decision to approve the "ludicrous" extradition, while Conservative backbenchers said extraditions such as O'Dwyer's serve as "a thorn in the side of the special relationship."
Conservative backbencher Dominic Raab, a prominent civil liberties campaigner said he struggled to see the difference between O'Dwyer's actions and those of major search engines.
"If what Richard O'Dwyer has done is illegal under UK law, surely many of the other search engines would be guilty too," he said. "Each new case like this creates a thorn in the side of the special relationship. We want strong extradition rules for terrorists and others, but when people see laws used against an enterprising 23-year-old, they lose faith."
While tvshack.net has been seized by the U.S. government, a number of sites have arisen in its stead. Project Free TV and TV Duck are among the multitude of places where viewers flock for free television content.
China is stealing U.S. military and civilian space technology, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
China's goal, according to a report from the State Department and Department of Defense, is to impede U.S. access to intelligence, navigation and communications satellites.
Bloomberg cites a pair of U.S. intelligence officials who said China was trying to deny the U.S. military access to the seas and airspace around China. The officials also said that China's political system "discourages independent thinking that spawns innovation," which forces the country to rely on reverse-engineering technologies that were created in the U.S. and Europe.
China denies that its government is engaging in "cyberespionage," calling such accusations a "Cold War ghost."
Scooping Up EMI
The European competition regulator will reportedly allow a consortium led by Sony to buy EMI Music's publishing assets for $2.2 billion.
Sony was able to avoid an in-depth probe from the European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union, by agreeing to sell certain assets.
To gain approval Sony agreed to sell several music catalogues -- including Virgin Records in the U.S. and in Europe and Famous Music in the UK, representing songwriters including Ozzy Osbourne, Culture Club and Tears for Fears -- according to the Financial Times.
The deal is still awaiting regulatory decisions in the U.S., Australia and Brazil. However, clearance in Europe is considered to be the most critical step in gaining global approval for the deal.
The Guardian reports that the deal will give Sony a 25 to 30 percent share of the global music publishing market.
There are reports that Sony plans to cut at least 300 EMI employees over the next two years.
Chinese Blog Vanishes
Things still aren't settled in the world of Chinese social media.
TechInAsia.com published an article Thursday detailing a brand new micro-blogging platform that had suddenly vanished.
Sina, a Chinese media company which operates the Twitter-like site Sina Weibo, launched a similar platform designed for users to submit news and images, according to the article. Importantly, the site allowed users to operate anonymously -- despite recent pleas from state-run media to disallow anonymous logins on social media sites
Lo and behold, the platform was running for all of one day. What's more, links to stories about the platform, which had appeared on multiple sites, led to "404 Error" messages.
From the TechInAsia.com article:
So what is going on here? ... It's too early to be sure, but the fact that news stories about the platform's launch have apparently been deleted from China's biggest news portals sure makes it feel like the service was taken down intentionally, and that traces of its existence are currently being scrubbed from the Internet. Given that it as an anonymous news reporting tool, I can't say I'm surprised.