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Submission + - How the UK police can coerce journalists into surrendering photographs 1

Andy Smith writes: I'm a press photographer. Recently the police wanted to seize some of my work photos to use as evidence in a prosecution. As a member of the National Union of Journalists I adhere to a strict code of ethics and I couldn't surrender the photos. Rather than trying (and likely failing) to get a warrant to seize the photos, the prosecutor used a tactic that nobody had heard of before: He got a warrant to seize all of my cameras, computers, memory cards, etc, even though the photos were in a secure location, not at my home or in my possession. I was then given 24 hours to retrieve and hand over the photos, or the police would raid my home and take everything, effectively ending my career.

Submission + - When ISP copyright infringement notifications go wrong

Andy Smith writes: Yesterday I received an email from my ISP telling me that I had illegally downloaded an animated film called Cubo and the Two Strings. I'd never heard of the film and hadn't downloaded it. The accusation came from a government-approved group called Get It Right From a Genuine Site. I contacted that group and was directed to their FAQ. Worryingly, there's no way to correct a false report. The entire FAQ is written from the position that either you, or someone on your network, definitely downloaded what you're accused of downloading. Their advice to avoid any problems with your ISP is simply to not download anything illegally again. But if they can get it wrong once, then surely they can get it wrong again. How widespread is this problem? What safeguards are in place to ensure that people aren't falsely accused? Why has the government allowed this scheme to operate without the accused having some right to defend themselves?

Comment Sick of torrent sites (Score 2) 79

I'm so sick of most torrent sites nowadays. There's one I still use, an ExtraTorrent proxy, that is just about tolerable, but every other site I've tried over the past year is full of popups, popunders, redirects, etc. I've got popups blocked, adverts blocked, everything blocked that I know how to block, and still the sites are practically unusable.

When I read this story, just out of interest I went to the https version of the pirate bay to see if it worked. Clicked on the search box and immediately I had a full-screen popup, two smaller popups, and a text-to-speech reader (ffs!!) reading out a warning message about my system having been compromised and giving me a phone number to call.

Comment Death of newspapers (Score 5, Insightful) 311

Will newspapers die? Hopefully not.
Are they dying right now? Yes.

Or, more accurately, they're being killed from within. What you have to remember is that newspapers aren't run by journalists, they're run by managers and salesmen who don't seem to understand their target market (readers) or their product (quality reporting). They don't seem to look further than the next issue -- if that hits the streets then great, job done. Who cares how it's achieved.

Here in the UK, so many quality journalists and photographers are being let go because managers see staff as an expendable resource. Got 20 journalists working their arses off to produce the paper? Cool, sack 10 of them and use agency copy. The public will never notice, right? That's £200,000 saved per year. When the readership halves because of rubbish content, we'll dream up some other excuse to explain that away. And then we'll sack more staff. Never the managers. They're not expendable. Always the journalists.

I'll give you an insight in to where the power lies at newspapers. About 2 years ago I was working at a great bi-weekly city newspaper. We were working on a story for the next day's paper and I went over to talk to the news editor. He told me that there might not be space to run the story anymore, because four news pages had been dropped. Why? Because the paper liked to have a 50/50 split between editorial and adverts. The ad sales team had sold a full four pages less adverts than they were meant to. So to make everything look right with the upper management, the manager of the ad sales team simply had four news pages dropped.

It wasn't like we were short-staffed that week or there had been a shortage of stories. The news was written, the photos had been taken, the pages were being made up. And four pages were wiped out, just like that, to make one sales guy look good.

Ask anyone who works in newspapers if they've ever heard of the editorial team having ad pages dropped to make space for news. Go on, have a guess how often that happens.

tl;dr: Newspaper sales are dropping. Managers try to save money by making the newspapers worse. Sales drop further. And so on.

Submission + - Advertisers already using new iPhone text message exploit

Andy Smith writes: The annoying App Store redirect issue has blighted iPhone users for years, but now there's a new annoyance and it's already being exploited: Visit a web page on your iPhone and any advertiser can automatically open your messages app and create a new text message with the recipient and message already filled in. We can only hope they don't figure out how to automatically send the message, although you can bet they're trying.

Submission + - Wizards of the Coast ban sex offender from Magic, allow drug dealer (wordpress.com)

Andy Smith writes: Possibly the biggest controversy to ever hit the world of Magic: The Gathering is the banning of top-eight player Zach Jesse, a convicted sex offender who was 'outed' by another player. Adding some flavour to the mix is that another top Magic player, Patrick Chapin, is a convicted drug dealer. Rather than banning him, though, Wizards employed him as an intern and added him to the Magic Hall of Fame. This raises the issue of companies over-ruling laws that should, in theory, allow time-served criminals to step back in to society and rebuild their lives.

Comment Charging (Score 1) 674

I was born and lived in Yorkshire, England for 20 years, a place that has a light-hearted reputation for being tight with money. A couple of years ago my girlfriend and I went on a road trip and visited Yorkshire. We had breakfast in a cafe where I plugged in my phone. The owner came over and started talking about how we were putting him out of business and electricity isn't cheap etc. We thought he was joking at first. But then he asked us for 50p to cover the cost of the electric. He was serious.

Comment Trust (Score 0) 217

I'm struggling to think of any company that I trust less than Google. I mean, I don't really "trust" any company, but with Google I specifically distrust them. Anyone who has had to deal with their various press offices around the world will have sensed that there's something creepily wrong with that company. The whole operation screams "go away".

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