Monday, July 7, 2008

ISPs and download caps

The download cap debate by ISPs has been swirling around the blogosphere of late. Is there another motive why ISPs would like to see download caps imposed?

Over the past few years the amount of entertainment media on the Internet has exploded. From downloading music posted on discussion boards to watching CBS's Jericho and ABC's Lost online. The amount of entertainment available is staggering, I have only named two of my favourites.

The purpose of download caps is to help ISPs manage their respective networks. After all a report from Sandvine shows that the P2P traffic accounts for 44% of Internet traffic, and 14.8% of Internet traffic is a result of streaming media. (I am not sure where iTunes or Netflix online videos fit into this picture.) ISPs have also argued that network management would help other users, by freeing up some bandwidth from the P2P users. (Wise assumption that we need to test).

However there could be anther reason why ISPs are pushing for download caps. Most of the progams I have seen have a limit, one was for 5GB and another for 40GB total for a month. But each plan has a mechanism in place to allow for more data to be downloaded, for a price. So if you watch a lot of TV online (like me), play a lot of online games (me again), download lots of files (me again, you have to love researching and articles in PDF that are 12MB), or have a particular amount of fun with digital photography which you must share with friends and family(me yet again) you could be in some trouble.

The download caps amount to nothing more than a potential new revenue stream for ISPs, especially if the download caps are small. It should be interesting how the future unfolds.

Gaming consoles and libraries

USA Today had an interesting story over the holiday weekend. HERE. I thought I would bring it up since libraries are starting to using gaming nights to draw in young patrons. Maybe libraries should consider blocking gaming nights, just as many blocked the use of social networking sights. (Severe sarcasm!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google and Book Scanning

Coming out of my comprehensive examination preparation last week, I had to reach out to friends to figure out what the deal is with Google and book scanning.

If you don't know already, Google is attempting to scan in the contents of libraries for various reasons. (I don't know them all, and I am not sure anyone does truly). Here is the issue.

Google is scanning in some copyrighted books, along with works in the public domain. How has Google not been shut down for violating copyright? There are certain provisions in the Copyright Act for libraries, Section 108. I would call attention to this section as it seems that Google is violating the copyright arrangements since Google is neither a public library, a non-commercial entity, not open to the public, nor has the format of the book become obsolete.

Thought I do not know what Google plans to do with the vast amount of information it has already scanned, the section I call attention to seem to show that it is not protected and is infringing on copyright. Google has recognized this in some ways by attempting to reach agreements with publishers.

Joyfully, my comprehensive examination did not have a question about Google book scanning or the copyright implications. Though I would have loved to take a stab at answering the question.

In the library profession, it seems there are three facets to the Google book scanning situation. First, is the group of librarians that love the idea. It will keep libraries relevant. How will it keep libraries relevant if patrons can simply go to and find all the books.. Second, is the group that Google is evil and stealing away from the public, while also breaking the law. I somewhat agree, but by virtue of this being my blog, I am in a third group. Those who see that the Google book scanning project has issues pertaining to libraries, copyright, and various other issues.

So I am interested in seeing Google move forward, only to see how the situation develops for all those involved.

Cox Communtions and computer scanning

The term scanning may be incorrect, but I cannot think of a better adjective at the moment. Please note this is a story about a friend, not myself. I am a reformed 'pirate' or 'patriot for free information'.

Last week my friend received a telephone call concerning his Internet connection. It seems that he had finally been busted for downloading the newly released movies and music from other users of Limewire. Cox informed him that they would turn off the Internet connection until they could verify that he had deleted the infringing copyrighted works.

They went so far as to tell him what the file names were and a general time line pertaining to when they were downloaded. Shocked, my friend complied and deleted the files.

When he called Cox back, they activated his Internet service. After about 5 minutes of my friend waiting on hold, Cox confirmed that he had deleted the files.

Here is the conundrum floating around in my head. How did Cox know that he deleted the files? I am pretty sure I know how they discovered they were shared, but how did they know he deleted them? Unless all they did was activate the Internet service and analyze the traffic of Limewire.

My other puzzle is how can they legally monitor the traffic of a user. Obviously they knew the files were there, they had the exact file names. I have read about the services of companies that monitor and download copyrighted work to identify copyright infringement. How is Cox involved though.

So not only do we have the US Government potentially sniffing our communications, but also our ISPs looking into the packets of our communications. (Though some have said this has been going on for a long time).

It should make anyone uneasy. The situation does highlight the need for privacy reform in the United States.

No response

Unfortunately, it appears that Senator McCain will not be responding to my inquiry relating to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.