The New ‘Copyright Alert System’ Takes Aim at the Wrong People

fbi_seal_large_verge_medium_landscapeWith the new Copyright Alert System, the MPAA and RIAA are dropping the hammer… On the wrong people…

Internet Service Providers, the MPAA/RIAA, and the Federal government have all teamed up and decided that they are going to fix the problem of internet piracy and copyright infringement. They’ve worked for years, struggling to come up with a comprehensive solution to such a horrible and thoughtless crime epidemic. Piracy is corroding the soul of America, let’s face it. Multinational Corporate-Run Motion Picture Studios work extremely hard to distribute a product that they can make a profit from, and despite the fact that the box office just had its best year in a decade, the scourge of internet piracy has to be stopped.

WarOnDrugsInfographicLike the equally important and equally effective War on Drugs and War on Terror, the War on Piracy has become one of the most important wars of our age… Symbolizing not only the great struggle for the morality of this nation, but for the very souls of our children as well. For what are we if we teach our kids that theft is acceptable? What are we saying about our society if we don’t let our most important corporate citizens set an example for what is and what isn’t appropriate economic responsibility? And now, after years of work, countless man-hours of thoughtful analysis, finally the policy makers AND the government have given the Corporate-Run Motion Picture Studios have a weapon they can finally use to target offenders… Education.

Internet-PiracyAlso called the Six-Strikes Program (just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?), the Copyright Alert System was finally rolled out this last week, and citizens can sleep a little easier at night knowing that the intellectual property of their beloved Multinational Corporate-Run Motion Picture Studios is safe at last. The copyright owners have tried for a decade now to stem the tide of illegal file-sharing, and since going after the source of pirated movies and music (the downloadees) hasn’t worked, it’s only logical that the next step is to go after the downloaders.

And the best news? It’s not TOO unconstitutional!

anonymous-maskBut seriously, with the new system, if a major motion picture studio invades your privacy and detects that you have illegally downloaded copyrighted material, they now have the ability to let your internet service provider know that this breach (that is the breach that YOU have made) has occurred. The ISPs can then send you a pop-up or alert with educational tips about the importance of copyright law and possible consequences for future theft can be. How about that? A private coalition of corporations can watch your activity and report it to other corporations so that those other corporations can take away some of your freedom! This is truly a step forward in privatizing our liberty.

Let’s say you want to know if the new Green Day album is worth buying or not (Cause let’s face it, at this point in their career, and in this economy, you can’t afford to go spend money on an album that is going to suck and you’re never going to listen to), so you go to your local peer-to-peer network and find an illegally distributed copy of their new album for free. Now you download that file and listen to it. Sure enough, your hunch was right, the new Green Day is worse than whatever a Bruno Mars is. So you don’t buy the album. Now little do you know the Recording Industry Association of America is the one who put that copy on that peer-to-peer network… As bait… That’s strike one. The RIAA has been watching the network, and now they’re watching you. You might not have been on the list, but now you are.

pirate-bayHowever the more likely situation is this: You’re a good consumer. You work, pay taxes, go to the movies, buy iTunes songs AND albums of bands you love, you buy video games, Blu-Rays, Netflix, Amazon streaming, etc… You’re the prime example of the modern media consumer. However you’re hiding a dark and terrible secret, you’re also a downloader... As a movie fan, you love films, but you’re also not rich, so you can’t afford to pay for every single movie you want to see. You don’t go to the movies with video cameras, you don’t upload your screener copies of awards considerations, you don’t even upload CDs you buy for others to get… You’re simply A CONSUMER… Just like the MPAA/RIAA wants you to be. You grew up with your parents teaching you how to hook two VCRs together to record a crappy copy of Tron for pity’s sake.

torrentWould you be surprised to hear that this new Copyright Alert System might just violate a few federal laws? Like primarily that one that says a person is innocent until proven guilty? Or that a person has a right to due process? Or that these coalitions of corporations and internet service providers completely blocked all subscriber/consumer representation from the drafting of their “system?” Or that this whole process runs without any kind of oversight whatsoever?

Or that the Constitution of the United States of America gives CONGRESS sole right to enforce copyright laws and that only our federal courts have the right to punish violators?

Guess that makes this whole Copyright Alert System work-around as shady as it sounds. Watch your back, and call your congressman. Seriously. Here’s the link to find out who is your representative in congress and tell them how you feel about this draconian, privatized law-enforcement system.

Why Occupy?

There is a sickness in our country. A binding and far-reaching disease that has decimated our economy, corrupted our leaders, and left Americans holding the bag. It has been said that the top 1% of people in the country control 99% of the wealth, power, and government; it has also been said that we must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Over the past few years we’ve seen the divide between the haves and the have-nots widen astronomically. While investment bankers made billions off the backs of stretched-thin Americans who believed it was their time to prosper as well, corporations were given the go-ahead to channel unlimited amounts of money into political contributions by the Supreme Court. Millions of hard-working citizens lost their jobs, their homes, and their livelihoods while tax money went to bail out the investment banks and the insurance companies that made it all possible.

Always follow the money.

There is one reason our government does not work. There is one reason “our representatives” play politics instead of doing their jobs. There is one reason why even the media we rely on to get our facts and become informed citizens is slanted and processed and mainly just plain hype. It is money. It is greed.

-Corporations and people with money are able to exert influence and control over the American political system through campaign contributions and funneling cash into campaigns and lobbyists.

-Major corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google are pushing for a “tax holiday” in which the TRILLIONS$$ they hold in US BANKS as “overseas profits” (ie what they claim are profits made in business abroad, and thus avoiding having to pay US Taxes) will be transferred into the “US economy” without the appropriate taxes paid. These corporations claim this money will then boost the economy by allowing them to spend it on hiring, creating jobs, etc. However Congress has done this before. In 2004’s “the American Jobs Creation Act,” Congress allowed major corporations to bring home offshore profits at a tax rate of 5.25% – a fraction of the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent.  A two-year study by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that companies involved in the tax break failed to create new jobs and instead boosted executive paychecks.

-Despite bringing in $150 billion at a reduced tax rate, the top 15 corporations actually eliminated more than 20,000 U.S. jobs. They also reduced their research and development spending, despite arguments that the tax break would help companies spend more money on innovation.

-While those corporations whittled away their payrolls, they also spent more money on repurchasing their own stock (to increase its value) and on increasing executive pay. These stock repurchases went up by “16 percent the first year after the tax break and 38 percent the second year. Executive pay went up 27 percent the first year after the tax break and 30 percent the next.” (Carl Levin, US Senator, Argus Press)

-Since 2004, the corporations have dramatically increased the amount of money they keep offshore to avoid paying American taxes.

-At the height of the mortgage crisis in 2008, TARP and the American Taxpayer bailed out the very banks that created the crisis in the first place in order to save the economy from certain collapse. Original criteria and regulation for TARP was rejected by said banks in lieu of a loosely defined executive pay cap instead. Basically the banks that created the economic crisis told Washington that they wouldn’t take the TARP money if there were strict regulations on how they could spend it. That money should have been a solid stimulus for the failing economy, yet here we sit three years later in the midst of the same recession.

We were told we had a chance at the American dream… but came to realize that it was truly, only a dream. We went to college to better ourselves and make something with our lives, only to find the jobs we studied for disappear before our very eyes. We pulled ourselves up by our boot straps only to find ourselves in a race that needed nicer, fancier foot wear in order to compete. In America it is fairly easy to make money if you have it to begin with, but the simple truth is- the poor are staying poor, and the rich are still getting richer.

If you’ve seen the news lately you’ve seen the Occupy Wall Street movement. It started a month ago with a call to action from Anonymous, urging New Yorkers to peacefully, calmly, and democratically camp out in Zuccotti Park. Since that day the movement has not only gained press, but momentum as well. Joining the streaming/blogging/YouTubing protesters we’ve seen US Marines in dress uniform, heads of major labor unions, and celebrities alike… They’ve been corralled, arrested, pepper-sprayed, and yet almost a month later, the movement is spreading… All the while it is being laughed at by the mainstream media who view them as leaderless, left-wing, anarchist burn-outs, who should be looking for work.

Conservatives blast the movement for it’s lack of cohesiveness and singular vision, however is another mission statement what this country really needs? It is time to throw out the buzz words and the paradigms, the press releases and the sound bytes. Occupy has become larger than anyone could’ve imagined a month ago. What started with a protest in Lower Manhattan has steamrolled across the country, gaining momentum and support.

The time has come. The movement is here. They can not ignore it any longer. Use your voice. Use your internet. Use your hands. Do something. The revolution will not be televised.

“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Want to Win a Ride to Space?

As we ride the backlash from NASA’s Space Shuttle Shutdown, Seattle elite are starting a contest to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle, and the grand prize? A ride in to orbit… well… almost. Private company SpaceAdventure is currently developing craft to carry paying passengers into sub-orbit for around 6 minutes of zero-gravity at a time. So technically space, but not quite a stay on the uber-expensive orbital hotel opening next year.

The tiered contest starts with open registration on the Space Needle’s website starting today, and will advance through a random selection via computer and 1-minute videos that will eventually be voted on. There will, of course, be a physical evaluation phase as well, no wants exploding hearts or brain aneurysms on their hyped-up privatized “space-flight.”

Regardless, it doesn’t sound like you’ve got anything to lose from entering… well besides your lunch somewhere above the Earth.

Good luck!

Why I Wanted Her to Be Guilty (Casey Anthony’s Verdict is in)

I grew up in the 80s and was a teenager in the 90s- so after watching OJ and Menendez and the like for the better part of a decade I swore on my life I wouldn’t get wrapped up in another damn trial/media circus… Well that all went out the window this morning when I heard the verdict was in for Casey Anthony- the mother who stood accused of killing her two-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Now I admit, I watch the Today show religiously, so I’ve watched the disappearance, arrest, and now trial progress over 3 years… and the entire time I never doubted for a second that this woman killed her child and buried her in the swamp with duct tape on her mouth and nose. From the 30-day period which Casey Anthony chose NOT to tell authorities that her daughter had been missing, to the pictures that surfaced of her partying and “living it up” while her daughter had been missing… it just added up. As a parent of two kids I have been haunted by the pictures of little Caylee for 3 years, and after watching the circus that was the trial on national television, I KNEW that after only a day and a half of deliberations that the jury had reached a guilty verdict.. and I was relieved.

Then the bombshell: Casey Anthony was found not guilty of all charges except lying to police… for which she will probably get time served and non-supervised probation… I, like millions of people around the world, am in shock.

My objectivity met head-on with my desire… no… my NEED for justice for that poor little girl… and it lost. I can’t say that the verdict has  changed anything in my outlook of the entire situation. I can’t lie, I believe she is guilty. What kind of monster does the things she did? She knew her daughter was missing and she went out and got tattooed, partied, and lived the care-free lifestyle of a 20-something-year-old kid. Not a single iota of parental instinct showed in those things she did do… so it’s an easy leap for me to assume that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a damn duck, then she killed her kid.

Now I don’t know what to believe. After seeing her parents’ testify on the stand, and knowing the circumstances of the case… I turned to my honey yesterday and said there was just too much Reasonable Doubt, and that she was going to walk… now I’m extremely sad I was right.

Not because I think this woman is a monster, or because I hate her for what I still think she did… but because of little Caylee Anthony. I wanted that one thing that everyone else who has watched this debacle has come to need: Justice for that poor little girl.

Now that justice is gone. Whether it is because Casey Anthony really didn’t do it, or because the State of Florida dropped the ball in an epic way… the fact will still remain:

Justice was not served for Caylee today.

The X: Legend Continues With X: Rebirth

I’m talking revolution… One of the greatest space simulation games I’ve ever stumbled across, is about to be reborn. For those of you who know, the X: Universe is a fully formed universe whose mantra is TRADE, FIGHT, BUILD, THINK. Complete with interstellar trade, governments, militarism, and a complex economy, X:3 is a milestone in gaming. For years, German gamemaker Egosoft has been transporting players to a galaxy full of humans, aliens, pirates, peace, glory, war, and most of all: cash in it’s X: series. A fully explorable universe that players will either conquer, or get chewed up, and spit out by. Flying stealthy advanced fighters, to giant turret-filled destroyers, the X: games have brought the universe to your home desktop. Now it’s time for a rebirth.

Long after the events of the previous games, a  supernova renders all previous modes of interstellar travel useless, and the universe much, much “smaller.”

Even the Future has Light Rail!

“In the distant future, the X: Universe faces a period of profound and irrevocable change. While the universe stumbles towards an uncertain future, countless adventures await as new enemies rise in search of power.”

Space-Traffic!

Staying true to the “sandbox,” go anywhere, explore anything format, X: Rebirth brings us a revolution in one of the most popular and critically acclaimed space simulation games ever made. You enter the shoes of a new, brave young hero, who, along his unlikely female ally, will travel the universe in an ancient, battle-worn ship with a glorious past. Two adventurers, alone against the galaxy, the fate of the universe (indeed their very existence) rests in your hands!

Blade Runner Anyone?

From the looks of it, X: Rebirth, is changing (and adding) some serious changes to it’s fundamental formula. With the traditional “jumpgates” obsolete now, more emphasis has been put on interaction. Whereas before, the entire game was played from the cockpit of a spaceship… every indication now points to an out-of-ship experience for players. If you look carefully at some of the screen captures I took from the official teaser, you can see everything from “traffic lanes” in space to highly-populated stations. Even Egosoft has announced that a new interface is going to revolutionize the game. This has really got my interest peaked more than the other big 3 sequel releases this fall: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and the ever-anticipated Uncharted 3 (seriously, if you’ve never played an Unchartedgame, go buy a PS3 and do yourself, and your life, a favor).

An interview with Egosoft’s Bernd Lehahn detailed

Q: “Why another X game? What happened to the “end of the X trilogy” statement?”

Open-Mouthed Galactica? :)

A: “Well that is still true. At least partially ;) We worked on the old X games from 1996 until 2007. That was 11 years of development and 11 years mostly filled with adding features.
Adding features is pretty cool, as you have this solid foundation. You never have to start from scratch. We replaced the graphics engine twice, and we made many other big changes to the technology, but we were never at a point where nothing would work. That’s a very luxurious position for a game developer to be in.

Escaping Orbit

BUT (and it’s a big but), adding features to an existing game design has limits. Especially when we talk about the actual gameplay design. Adding so many features that were not originally planned for was a bit like building a higher and higher tower. You run into problems. Problems like a user interface that gets more and more complex and that’s rarely a good thing.

So in 2007 we decided we need to cut off that legacy and do a fresh start.”

The Rebirth begins this winter this Christmas… stay glued to TOOMBLOG for more details!

BREAKING NEWS: The Playstation Network is Back Up and Running as of 12 am PST

After three weeks of issue-skirting press releases and Call of Duty: Black Ops withdrawals, fanboys can now rejoice as the Playstation Network is now back online after three longs weeks of waiting. If you remember: a few months ago iPhone hacker GEOHot finally jailbroke the Playstation 3, after almost 5 years of release. When GEOHot went live with his information, Sony responded with a request in court for streaming giant Youtube to turn over any IP addresses of people who had viewed GEOHot’s “how-to-jailbreak-your-PS3″ video. As Sony put the pressure on GEOHot, hacker group Anonymous issued a warning to Sony not to push the envelope too much, or there would be disastrous results.

A few weeks later, Sony’s Playstation Network was the victim of a massive hack, in which hackers stole millions of IDs from Sony’s Qriocity Music service. Sony promptly took the PSN offline, leaving many gamers in the lurch as a bulk of Sony’s games are multi-player.  As the days dragged on, Sony issued another press release stating that hackers had indeed infiltrated the accounts of millions of Playstation Network users, including areas where credit card numbers and identification are kept.

Sony was then called before congress to explain themselves and to find out why they took so long to issue a statement to users (In fact it took over a week for Sony to say a word about the incident). In the meantime, hacker group Anonymous has adamantly denied the hack, while Sony has definitely set it’s sights on them.

But what did Sony expect when they’re running 5 year old systems that support the PSN, and had barely any anti-intrusion software present at the time. Since the attack, however, Sony has employed protection giant Norton (by Symantec) to not only help them secure the Playstation Network for the future, but to investigate why and how this happened in the first place.

When I was finished downloading an update to a brilliant little piece of freeware call PS3 Media Server tonight, I found that my PS3 was prompting me to update… my heart skipped a beat when I realized what that meant. That I could scoop almost everyone with this story! To quote the mighty Wayne’s World “GAME ON!”

Battlestar Galactica Open Beta Goes Online- Join The Fight!

Those of us Battlestar Galactica nuts who can’t get enough of BSG since it left the air are getting a chance to join the fight against the Cylons in an epic Space Battle MMOG. Taking place right after the Battle of the Resurrection Ship in season 2, the Galactica and Pegasus are under attack from a massive Cylon fleet looking for retaliation. During the battle a strange energy signature is discovered from a nearby ancient (and destroyed) space station and before the Cylons can move in for the kill, Adama orders a red-line jump to safety. The strange energy is triggered by the FTL drives of the fleet, and causes a massive FTL overload that sends the fleet (and the pursuing Cylons) across the Universe to a strange and uncharted galaxy.

The galaxy, in fact the game, resembles X3: Universe games, with a few dozen “systems” that ships can jump to and from in order to finish the ultimate goal of the game: find enough resources to repair the fleet’s FTL drives and jump away from the Cylons, which are on the other side of the galaxy. The story is identical for those who wish to play as Cylons, however characters, ships, etc are all different. In this new galaxy, remnants of an ancient race are found with a few different kinds of ships (which are able for purchase throughout the game). Starting out in a Viper, you must complete missions, mine minerals, defeat Cylon patrols, engage in PVP combat, etc. in order to rank up. A “cubit system” is available for those who wish to purchase in-game money to use for things (apparently frowned on by the gaming community for some reason).

The craziest thing about this game, is you play it in your web-browser via UNITY Game Engine, the gameplay flows nicely, space combat is fluid and fun, and the graphics are beautifully rendered. If you’re a fan of the X3 games or any other space combat games, Battlestar Online is the game for you. Whether you feel like going head-to-head with NPC Cylon Raiders, or PVP fleet battles, or even planting a mining ship on a huge planetoid and guarding it with your life from Cylon attackers, this game (while in it’s infancy) is the most fun I’ve had outside of a PS3. It seamlessly combines the facets of a Massive Multiplayer Online Game, with the ability to head out on your own and complete individual missions for the good of the fleet.

While I’ve only made it to a “Level 11″ (I’ve seen guys flying around that are level 60+ !), so far I haven’t had a chance to get bored with the game. I’ve managed to hook up with a large Flight Wing and every time I play I hook up with a squad to all share whatever resources are reaped from mining, NPC capping, or Cylon OP Popping (when a fleet jumps into a Cylon system to attack their base and destroy it). I can always tell how good a game is by how much flak I get for playing it too much, for BSG Online I’m getting level 7 (out of 10) flak from my honey… possibly level 8. :)

If you’re in the mood for some BSG action, space combat, or just want to see what the future of browser-based gaming looks like, Battlestar Galactica Online is the game for you! Good hunting nugget!

Wow

20110505-025618.jpg

I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for reading my blog. I’ve been scrambling to find some balance between a (now) full-time job, a family, Eugene Daily News, Toomblog, and the novel… (plus my quota of movies, tv, music, and extracurricular activities) and needless to say when I apply more focus in one area, the others suffer.

Now if I can just quit focusing QUITE so much on ECA’s I’ll be in good shape. Unfortunately, that’s something I’ve always struggled with and will for awhile… Fortunately, on the other hand, I’ve obsessive/compulsive, which means my sense of duty to all aspects of my life will pull me in several directions, and some writing is BOUND to come out of it. (lol)

Thanks for hanging in there, and thank you for making TOOMBLOG a hit! I’m cruising toward 2000 views in just under a month- and growing everyday! Spread the word and I’ll get on the next BSG File tonight!

-TOOMB