Fluffeh writes: "Around a year ago, a person working for the ABC in Australia with the highest levels of access to systems got caught caught with his fingers on the CPU cycles. The staffer had installed BitCoin mining software on the systems used by the Australian broadcaster. While the story made a bit of a splash at the time, it was finally announced today that the staffer hadn't been sacked, but was merely being disciplined by his manager and having his access to systems restricted. All the stories seem a little vague as to what he actually installed however — on one side he installed the software on a public facing websever, and the ABC itself admits "As this software was for a short time embedded within pages on the ABC website, visitors to these pages may have been exposed to the Bitcoin software" and "the Coalition (current Opposition Parties) was planning on quizzing the ABC further about the issue, including filing a request for the code that would have been downloaded to users’ machines", but on the other side there is no mention of the staffer trying to seed a BitCoin mining botnet through the site, just that mining software had been installed."
Fluffeh writes: "In Australia, we have the right to record TV and play it back at a later date, we also have the right to transcode from one format to another, so anyone with a media server can legally back up their entire DVD collection and watch it without all those annoying warning and unskippable content — as long as we don't break encryption (please stop laughing!). Optus, Australia's second largest Telco has been raising ire though with the new TV Now service they are offering and Big Media is having a hissy fit. They recently offered the service that does the recording on behalf of the customer. Seems a no brainer right? Let the customer do what they are allowed to legally do at home, but charge them for it. Everybody wins! Not according to Sports Broadcasters who made this statement when Optus said they would appeal their recent loss in an Australian Court to the highest court in the land: "They are a disgusting organisation who is acting reprehensibly again and now putting more uncertainty into sports and broadcast rights going forward I’m really disappointed and disgusted in the comments of their CEO overnight." Is this yet another case of Big Media clutching at an outdated business model, or should consumers be content with just doing their own work?"
Fluffeh writes: "This morning the Australian Division of GAME saw an email from their Marketing Manager confirming that the 95 store chain has gone into voluntary administration. PriceWaterhouseCoopers partner Kate Warwick said "Initially we will continue to trade all stores, operating these on as close to a ‘business as usual’ mode as possible whilst we get a clearer understanding of the current state of the business and actively pursue options to secure its future." in a statement today. It also seems that GAME is having a bit of a fire sale, with many titles including quite a few new releases now in a $5-$74 bargain bin. Ms. Warwick also noted that the company’s customers hold various claims against the company under loyalty cards, gift cards and vouchers. Ms. Warwick said “We are working on schemes aimed at giving customers some return on these claims if they are used to make additional purchases.”"
Fluffeh writes: "The Greens have demanded that Australia’s Government cancel its participation in the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement international treaty in the wake of an expected imminent rejection of the proposal by the European Union and significant and ongoing global protests against a number of its terms expected to harm Internet freedom. Late last week, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said that ACTA was unlikely to come into effect in Europe, despite the fact that most of the 27 EU states have signed the treaty. Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam, who has been a strident critic of ACTA said the “ACTA bandwagon has crashed” and it was “time for Australia to get off”. “I am hoping [DFAT] will take a second look, and conduct a proper analysis on the threats to privacy, cheaper medicine and our economic interests posed by this Agreement.”."
Fluffeh writes: "Hot on the heels of other taxminimisation strategies that have been reported lately, Google Australia seems to have paid a mere $74k on estimates of around a $1 billion dollar income. In its financial statements, Google Australia did not list its activities as being the provision of advertising and software services, both of which it charges Australian customers for. Instead, it noted that it has agreements with its US parent, Google Inc, and a company called Walkway Technologies for the provision of research and development services, and with Google Ireland and Google Asia-Pacific for the provision of sales and marketing services. Consequently, almost all of Google Australia’s revenues were listed as being for services thus rendered to those companies."
Fluffeh writes: "The United States’ global trade representative has strongly criticised a perceived preference on the part of large Australian organisations for hosting their data on-shore in Australia, claiming it created a significant trade barrier for US technology firms. A number of US companies had expressed concerns that various departments in the Australian Government, namely the Department of Defence had been sending negative messages about cloud providers based outside the country, implying that “hosting data overseas, including in the United States, by definition entails greater risk and unduly exposes consumers to their data being scrutinised by foreign governments”. Recently, Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner Anthony Bendall highlighted some of the privacy concerns with cloud computing, particularly in its use by the local government. He said the main problems were the lack of control over stored data and privacy, in overseas cloud service providers."
Fluffeh writes: "Richard Bell, an Australian Film Maker, on a fellowship in New York, produced and directed approximately 18 hours of raw footage for a film with the help of an assistant called Tanya Steele and paid her for these services. Ms Steele, through her American lawyers, sent letters to Mr Bell and his agent claiming that she owned the copyright in the footage and demanding that the trailer be removed from the Internet. She also caused the Vimeo website to remove the trailer. In response, Bell went to the (Australian) courts, which declared him the owner of the copyright in the film, and deemed Steele's threats "unjustifiable". Bell then asked for damages. These were granted in the latest judgment because Bell had lost the opportunity to sell some of his works, which typically cost tens of thousands of dollars, as a result of Steels' threats. The Australian judge awarded over $150,000 in damages plus another $23,000 costs against her."
Fluffeh writes: "The Australian Attorney-General (Queen's Representative who can sack the Australian Federal Government) has been making moves to ensure that Australian Law keeps pace with emerging digital technologies (Warning, PDF Link) and that Copyright Law is fair for both Copyright Holders and for Consumers. That means that the Australian Law Reform Commission will review the last ammendment in 2006 to the Australian Copyright Act of 1968 looking into detail at including the fair use '10 per cent rule', fair dealing of creator and user rights, private copying when format-shifting or time-shifting and whether legitimate non-commercial use of copyright works online, such as social networking, should be permitted. “In our fast changing, technologically driven world, it important to ensure our copyright laws are keeping pace with change and able to respond to future challenges.” Further reading is also available on TechDirt who seem very pleased with this progressive move forward."
Fluffeh writes: "Australia’s competition regulator will today take iconic technology giant Apple to court for advertising its new iPad tablet as featuring “4G” speeds — which are not supported on Australian telecommunications networks. One of the key features of the new iPad is support for 4G speeds, however, the 4G speeds which the new iPad supports will not be available in Australia, with Apple’s technical specifications page only listing it as supporting the 700Mhz and 2100Mhz spectrum bands, neither of which are being used in Australian telcos to provide 4G services. The case is a bit shaky in many opinions though, as Apple does state in the fine print "4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US; and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. Data plans sold separately. See your carrier for details.""
Fluffeh writes: "The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade emerged as ACTA’s cheerleader-in-chief in Australia (later picked up on other sites), trumpeting the benefits of the treaty before a rare open federal parliamentary committee. Australia’s lack of public and political opposition to ACTA stands somewhat alone in the international community, accentuated by limited local media coverage. The rare light shone on Australia’s role in negotiations during last week’s “Justice Standing Committee” hearing only came after the treaty had already been signed in October, 2011 – as was noted more than once by the handful of politicians present. Senator Scott Ludlam, an outspoken supporter of Julian Assange and his Wikileaks organisation, seized the opportunity to grill the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and other supporters of ACTA who presented themselves.
The articles also go into depth about the impacts of ACTA on many areas — such as Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, a government program that provides subsidised drugs and medicines to the entire population. Bans on the use of generic medicines could see massive blow-outs in the cost of the scheme."
Fluffeh writes: "Following up on the recent news-storm after Chinese vendor Huawei was banned from work on the Australia NBN the Greens have yet again stood up for transparency by questioning the government. As Huawei has not been accused of breaking any Australian laws, the Government’s apparent intervention in NBN Co’s tendering processes raises questions that need answering. If the Government has evidence that there is a dangerously close relationship between Huawei and Beijing’s political and military interests – it should make that information public."
Fluffeh writes: "The video game retailer, Game, which runs 1,270 shops, half of them in the UK, and employs 10,000 people worldwide is hanging by a thread after it filed for administration and admitted the business was worthless, jeopardising 6,000 jobs in the UK. Game shops remain open and a fire sale has started. The company admitted on Wednesday that the business had "no equity value" when its shares were suspended from stock exchange trading. The company needs to raise around £180m (around US$280m) to stave off collapse."
Fluffeh writes: "Continuing the recent stories on the secret, closed door, FOI blocked talks, the Australian Greens have filed a motion in the Senate requesting that the Government release documents regarding its closed door meetings on Internet piracy which the Attorney-General’s Department has blocked from being released under Freedom of Information laws. This morning, Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam filed an order in the Senate that the Government disclose details of the most recent meeting. “The Government refuses to reveal almost any information about the attendees, the substance or the outcomes of the meeting,” he said in a separate statement. “A Freedom of Information request from a journalist looks like it’s been met with maximum resistance.”"
Fluffeh writes: "Australian shopping centres will monitor customers' mobile phones to track how often they visit, which stores they like and how long they stay. One unnamed Queensland shopping centre is next month due to become the first in the nation to fit receivers that detect unique mobile phone radio frequency codes to pinpoint location within two metres."