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Grokster and ID theft duke it out for your attention

Combine the two and get outta jail free?

Letters The Supreme Court ruling that Grokster is responsible for the actions of those that use its software has stirred more that a little discussion online. Readers of El Reg are no quieter than average, and naturally, you start by shouting at us about something:

Your pro-file sharing stance is hypocritical. You deny the movie making "pigopolists" have a right to fair and reasonable copyright protection such as a right not to have their content "shared" all over the internet, while at the same time you protect your own content with a copyright notice. If you don't like copyright and the protections it affords to content creators, then place a disclaimer on all Register articles giving anyone permission to reproduce them as they see fit. You produce a lot of quality content, business and technology websites could use your content as site fillers. Or perhaps copyright is not such a bad idea after all?


I think this ruling defies belief. I've heard a lot of analogies used to describe how crazy it is (gun manufacturers being sued for murders involving their weapon) but they don't seem completely accurate as they don't usually demonstrate 'inducement' to the illegal act. Presumably though, we can hope to see police forces around the world issuing speeding tickets directly to the manufacturers of the vehicles instead of the drivers. Surely creating and selling a vehicle that can exceed the maximum speed limit of the particular country in which it is sold can be classed as inducing its users to speed? In what way is this analogy different? Car manufacturer's even advertise their products in a way that encourages driving to the limit. When was the last time you saw an advert for a Porsche talking up its great fuel economy?

Just because its not easy to catch the actual perpetrators of a crime doesn't mean you should invent laws to target the providers of a product that has significant legal uses.

Its all about the money, plain and simple.


surely this makes Microsoft directly responsible for the actions of virus writers that use there environment to produce the malicious code?


"The ruling means that developers of P2P software can be held liable for their users' actions and that the software makers must work to prevent the distribution of copyrighted material." Well, doesn't that mean that Smith & Wesson can be held liable for each murder, robbery and kidnapping in which one of its guns is used ? From now on, will the car manufacturers be held liable whenever someone driving a car they produced is involved in an accident ?


If the distributors of P2P software can be held liable for the uses to which consumers put that software, then surely by the same logic, the distributors of firearms and ammunition can be held liable for shootings -- a position which weapons distributors have always strenuously denied.

The obvious counter to this would be a cry of "You can't compare guns to computer software". But if the software in question were performing encryption, that would actually make it technically a weapon. {Remember the fuss over PGP?} Even if neither Grokster nor StreamCast support encryption, the next generation of P2P software almost certainly will include encryption. I'm willing to bet that we haven't heard anything like the last of this matter. Just wait till the next time some kid goes off on one with a gun .....


Also big news this week was the discovery by a Sun newspaper reporter that call centre staff in India are prepared to sell the details thousands of UK banking accounts, password particulars and credit cards numbers. For the right price, of course:

Hi John,

While the police cannot prosecute in India I wonder if the Information Commissioner could prosecute the bank / data controller for not implementing appropriate security in relation to the protection of the information.

Best regards,


Can I demand from my bank so that my data is not being processed outside the country?


Take a level 1 call center worker who is sneered at by his employer, his customers and everybody with a better job, pay him as little as you can [that was the whole point in the first place], be amazed when he finds a new revenue stream selling valuable information to people who do want to cough up the dough. Talk about shooting yourself in the gonads.

Ultimately the company goes into damage control. Nobody cares about the level 1 who gets to spend 10 years in a rat hole in India. And the poor trusting customer gets his account serviced from behind and enjoys years of poor credit ratings, jumping through hoops to prove he's not a swindler and sees the 7th gate open in the form of a bureaucracy which is going to acknowledge he's the victim of a crime every step of the way and yes, he/she is not responsible, but they're going to pay for it, with interest anyway. Coz' we're cool like that.

Statistically one of the credit cards that gets stolen will belong to an outsourcing CEO, his spouse or one of the kids. Then the problem may get some attention.


"Unfortunately we have no jurisdiction to prosecute this in the UK. "

Well, how about prosecuting the companies using this service? Safe Harbour laws and the protection acts mean that if you outsource a function you are still responsible for its' failures.


A very reasoned (cough, cough) response to India's request for more visas:

So "Outsourcing" hundreds of thousands of valuable US & UK jobs to India isn't enough and the bleeding push and pull starts want more H1B visa's so they can come over here and take even more? Fie, say I!

If US legislators pass an increase in H1B's, I say we try them for treason!

With GM, Ford and other large corporations being in such bad shape, "we, the people" are only a matter of a few years from being "third worlders" ourselves!!!! Giving up more good paying jobs to foreigners makes no sense and will ultimately end our way of life!

The only laws I want to see passed, are rulings that tie worldwide trade to currency value and mandate relative equality of personal wages & benefits, applying tariffs to ensure the same. Put every country on an equal monetary playing field, where Ambition, Knowledge, Ingenuity and Innovation win out over "low wages" & no benefits.

If this cannot be quickly accomplished, we will fall into another Great Depression of the likes of 1929, so you should be prepared for the most violent revolution you have ever witnessed. Millions of unemployed people worldwide will descend on their governments politicians like rabid dogs and rip them limb from limb. After all, if the US people can't afford to buy their own products; they won't be buying anyone elses. If most US citizens lose their homes and possessions, there WILL be civil war!

If we can't buy YOUR products or services, you will fall with us.

France and Germany presently have the largest per capita unemployment and are thus the closest to collapse and their situation must be closely monitored. We English speaking countries are next in line.

If our respective governments (and the banks & corporations that actually run them) think that they can bankrupt us and foreclose on our businesses, homes and farms; they are sadly mistaken.

As I recollect, it was tried by your government back in the mid 1700's and look where that got them!

As we approach Independence Day, remember that our forefathers founded this country on the basis of "Government For, Of and By the People". I don't remember seeing "Corporations or Banks" anywhere in the mix.

As to Bill Gates, the pseudo philanthropist; try spending some of your billions in your OWN country. Otherwise no one will be able to afford computers and thus your operating system sales will plummet. Not to mention all the US poor and soon to be homeless people who could benefit from your help.


Samsung filed a patent covering a method of allowing phone users to recall an SMS message. Well, that's stupid, you said:

Great, but won't people have to have phones which can accept delete commands? Which makes it utterly pointless for about 2 years, kinda like video messaging / calling. And what to say someone won't figure out a way to spoof delete messages and effectively destroy all unread messages? Mind you, not much highly important information is sent by sms, so I guess it'd just be a case of someone missing out on social messages. Just makes it easier/more obvious for mobile phone virus writers..., now we might actually see some mildly annoying "viruses".


I worry that these kinds of features can leave gapping opportunities for crackers and malware



I'm not sure whats more worrying about this- that they've come up with a proprietary system for remotely deleting a message (which means it'll only work if other phone manufacturers/networks implement the system, and don't provide a way to turn it off) or that they've been granted a patent on it (... I think I'll go and patent my device for entering characters onto a terminal, with a key provided to allow for the deleting of aforementioned characters...)


Surprisingly little abuse arrived in our inboxes after we ran a story on the spectacular claims that Doctor Who is better than Star Trek:

Doctor Who is only marginally better than the original Star Trek. Overall Dr Who was let down by shoddy direction and lacklustre music. Some of the writing was quite clever, but it didn't really survive the implementation. I felt particularly betrayed by the penultimate episode's 'Ann-droid' (one of only about 4 eps I bothered to watch), so I decided to do about 20km on the cycle of violence. Unfortunately my route was not as pretty as Charles Johnson's (see here).

Please bring back quality programming like Blake's 7!


I hope you've got your asbestos-lined undergarments on. As they say here in the Midwest US, "Them's fightin' words!" :) As for me, I remember seeing the old Dr. Who on PBS here many years ago and really enjoyed it. I was too young to remember the actor at the time, but I believe it was the more popular/well-known one. I even have my own 12-foot long, multicolored scarf that I break out in the cold weather here (not quite as long as The Doctor's, I know, but I get some great looks from people when I do wear it). I truly wish PBS would pick up the new series. I'd like to see how the new one's been going. I could do for some good sci-fi television.

I'm also a long time Trekkie. Not a fanatical one, mind you, just a pleasant armchair fan. Voyager remains my all-time favorite (after the original, of course). I never got attached to TNG and Enterprise, well, pretty much sucked. It had potential, but never reached it. And when our local UPN affiliate stopped broadcasting it after the 2nd season, I can't say I shed any tears over it.

Thanks again for a great site from a fan in Kansas!

Seth Galitzer

He's been keeping the Daleks off our backs for longer than anyone can comfortably remember. Giving him his just due in a popularity contest is really the very least we can do. You can win a car in a game show, he gets top honours by shoving Star Trek aside. He's been cheated!


Yes, we follow your logic there perfectly...

You were all very amused by Microsoft's recent "independent" study and its startling conclusions that Microsoft's own shiny software is less expensive to patch than open source products:

All this article about "independent" M$ studies start boring me. What about introducing counter. Instead of article El Reg can put out a head line like: M$ did it again - Nth time. And no article please. Or I will have to open article, read it on, to just find that M$ did again. Nth time in a row. With no juicy details. (*) Boring, wouldn't you agree? As added gain to ElReg, you will not have to write article - just put cliche headline.

(*) This time was especially boring. No kidnappings, no hostages, no blood, no chase with chain-saw.


"Risk is defined as the number of days between when a vulnerability was identified and when a patch was made available, combined with the amount of time it took organizations to deploy the patch. The study concludes that even when a greater number of patches are deployed for Windows, the costs are lower because it takes about half as much effort per patch to complete the task," Microsoft said.

Bollocks! Here at $DAY_JOB we run 100+ Windows systems, including more than a dozen servers. It takes a full man-day to patch them all once per month, and ensure that they all boot back up (often several times) and don't fail on reboot.

That doesn't take into account the mobile systems, either, which are catch-as-catch-can, and each requires several hours of software maintenance quarterly. At my own business, I run a dozen Linux servers and a couple of Linux desktops. It takes about 2 minutes once per week to enter the command lines to perform updates and patches *on all of them at the same time,* and only very rarely is a reboot required - can't recall the last one, in fact, but it wasn't this year.

If Microsoft wants any kind of respect, they're going to have to stop the obvious, outright lies about how they are so much "less expensive" than Linux. The fact is that Windows is outrageously expensively, that Windows is deliberately limited in its licensing life (no one wants to run an unsupported OS, and MS knows that - so they end-of-life their flagship products every 5 years or so and force purchase of all new software for those who foolishly continue to stay on the merry-go-round), and that maintaining Windows servers is far more tricky and expensive than equivalent Linux systems.

But, hey, I'm just a guy who does both and gets paid for it. What do I know? Microsoft hasn't paid me to make any decisions in their favor, so I must not know anything, right?


A special prize for the most confused correspondent of the week. Please note that in our coverage of the penchant virus writers are showing for using the promise of celebrity pictures to distribute their malware, we did not include any photography at all. Particularly not of Britney Spears.

Dear John, I do not like what you are doing with Britney Spears.

I don't like the type of photos of Britney you have on your site. They embarrass me. You show her naked. I think this is disrespectful of Britney. I feel annoyed about these photos. i would like you to put nicer photos of Britney on your site.

from Nic Breen

And finally, a complaint:

Subject: So small you missed it

Have you fallen asleep after a heavy lunch? This article, from 25 June New Scientist, is exactly the sort of thing I read the Reg for, or rather it is your summary and witty headline and subhead that I read the Reg for. My partner pointed this out to me, for heaven's sake, complete with her own pithy comments.

In case there is something wrong with the link, here is the headline:

Brain scans find the penis at last

disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

Thanks for raising this with us, Mr. Disgusted, though we think your subject line betrays the fact that you're actually angling for a job as a Reg headline writer.

That's all 'til Friday, folks. ®

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