Tag Archives: warner

TuneIn Radio Infringed Sony & Warner’s Copyrights, High Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tunein-radio-infringed-sony-warners-copyrights-high-court-rules-191101/

TuneIn is one of the most prominent and recognizable providers of radio content in the world.

Available for free or on a premium basis, the service offers access to well over 100,000 radio stations and millions of podcasts. It doesn’t provide this content itself but acts as an indexer (“audio guide service”, according to TuneIn) for those looking to access third-party streams.

In 2017 it emerged that Sony Music UK and Warner Music UK had sued the US-based company in the UK, claiming that since many of the TuneIn-indexed stations are unlicensed to play music in the region, linking to them amounts to infringement of the labels’ copyrights.

Today, the High Court of England Wales handed down its decision and it doesn’t look good for TuneIn. The judgment begins by stating the opposing positions of the labels and TuneIn, which are particularly familiar in these types of disputes concerning hyperlinking.

“The claimants say that a finding for the defendant will fatally undermine copyright. The defendant says that a finding for the claimants will break the internet,” Justice Birss writes.

The labels argued that TuneIn needs a license, an assertion “strongly disputed” by TuneIn. The company argued that it does not “store any music, and merely provides users of TuneIn Radio with hyperlinks to works which have already been made freely available on the internet without any geographic or other restriction.”

In other words, TuneIn presents itself as not unlike Google search but instead of indexing websites, it indexes and links to radio streams. However, Justice Birss declared the service to be “much more than that”, in part due to its curation and search features.

“I find therefore that the activity of TuneIn does amount to an act of communication of the relevant works; and also that that act of communication is to a ‘public’, in the sense of being to an indeterminate and fairly large number of persons,” he writes.

The ruling, which was first published by a blog connected to Bird and Bird, the law firm that represented TuneIn, runs to 47 pages and is both extremely detailed and complex. However, the conclusion to Judge Birss’ judgment can be summarized in a straightforward manner.

When TuneIn supplied UK users with links to radio stations that are already licensed in the UK, the company did not infringe Sony or Warner’s copyrights.

However, when TuneIn supplied UK users with links to radio stations that are not licensed for the UK or are not licensed at all, the company did infringe the labels’ rights.

Noting that TuneIn cannot rely on the safe harbor defenses under the E-Commerce Directive, Judge Birss declared TuneIn, “liable for infringement by authorization and as a joint tortfeasor.”

The full judgment can be found here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Trump’s Sons, Attorney, & Social Media Chief All Got DMCA Notices Over ‘Photograph’ Meme

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/trumps-sons-attorney-social-media-chief-all-got-dmca-notices-over-photograph-191008/

Last week, US President Donald Trump made headlines when he tweeted a short video meme aimed at discrediting political rival Joe Biden.

It contained a clip of Nickelback’s video ‘Photograph’ which resulted in the tweet being taken down for copyright infringement.

Soon after, a copy of the DMCA notice that caused the takedown was published on the Lumen Database, which revealed that the sender was Warner Music Group. However, TF has learned that wasn’t the only takedown notice to target Trump and his supporters over the now-controversial clip.

Trawling through the latest notices sent to Lumen by Twitter we can see that not only were some of Trump’s closest allies also sent takedowns for copyright infringement, but also that other music companies got in on the act too.

The original complaint against Trump’s account (here) was quickly followed by another against the account of his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The notice was sent by Nickelback’s management at Union Entertainment Group on behalf of Roadrunner Records, which in turn is owned by Warner.

As the DMCA notice below shows, the cited copyrighted material is “The Master Recording of ‘Photograph’ by Nickelback and the accompanying music video.”

Two other DMCA complaints were also filed at Twitter detailing a pair of allegedly-infringing tweets posted Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. and Dan Scavino, the White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President.

These were sent on October 3, 2019 by anti-piracy company GrayZone on behalf of Warner Music. In common with the complaint filed against their father’s account, YouTube was cited as the source of the material.

Finally, the second son of Donald Trump, Eric, also received an additional notice from Union Entertainment Group, again on behalf of RoadRunner Records.

While plenty of other people tweeted and retweeted the allegedly-infringing video, a flood of additional takedown notices doesn’t appear to be in the archives at Lumen. That doesn’t mean to say they don’t exist, however, since it’s certainly possible Twitter doesn’t pass everything on.

Interestingly, there is an ongoing debate as to whether the use of the video in the clip was actually fair use, with many Trump supporters claiming that as a parody, it should be protected from takedowns. Countering firmly, former RIAA executive vice president of communications Jonathan Lamy believes otherwise.

“This one was a clear cut no-brainer,” he said on Twitter. “On copyright grounds and also perhaps falsely implied endorsement.”

Since Giuliani also got a notice and presumably a strike against his Twitter account, it would be very interesting if – as an attorney – he decided to send a counter-notification. As fair use battles go it might get a little messy but things are pretty messy already.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Aussie Music Industry Wins First Ever Stream-Ripping Site Blocks

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/aussie-music-industry-wins-first-ever-stream-ripping-site-blocks-190516/

The worldwide music industry is making no secret of its disdain for so-called stream-ripping sites.

Utilizing content culled mainly from YouTube but also other streaming platforms, these services convert streams into downloads, allowing users to permanently store content – usually music – on a local machine.

Earlier this year the fight to curtail the growth of such platforms landed in Australia. Music labels Sony, Universal, and Warner, with assistance from Music Rights Australia and the Australasian Performing Right Association, eventually appeared in Federal Court during April, asking for action against four key players.

2conv, Flv2mp3, FLVto, and Convert2mp3 (full list of domains below) are considered some of the most significant stream-ripping sites. The music industry asked the Court to prevent users of local ISPs from accessing them. None are located in Australia but that’s convenient from a blocking perspective – Australian law requires them to be based overseas.

Lawyers for the music entities argued that the services are all unlicensed and that while some of the platforms indicate that users themselves should obtain licensing to rip content, that was a “meaningless warranty.”

This morning, ComputerWorld reported what observers believed to be the inevitable outcome. Justice Perram of the Federal Court has sided with the record companies and ordered local ISPs to block access to the sites. The order covers Telstra, Foxtel, Optus, TPG and Vodafone, plus subsidiaries, the publication reports.

Before last year’s amendments to Australia’s Copyright Act, obtaining an order to have these sites blocked would have been more difficult.

Previously, in order for a platform to be rendered inaccessible by ISPs, it would need to have a “primary purpose of infringing”. Last November’s changes lowered the bar so that sites “with the primary effect” of infringing or facilitating infringement can also be blocked.

Another element that would’ve helped the Court side with the music companies is the fact that all of the targeted platforms have been involved in legal action in other countries.

Convert2mp3 is Germany-based and was previously declared illegal and blocked in a first-of-its-kind case in Denmark. The other three services are all based in Russia, with FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com embroiled in legal action with labels in the United States.

In that action, the platforms have thus far come out on top but from the labels’ perspective (1,2) this is unacceptable. Tofig Kurbanov, the Russian operator of the stream-ripping sites, says that if the record labels want a legal battle, they should have that fight in Russia.

In a reply brief filed at the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit earlier this month, Universal, Warner Bros, and Sony argued that the confrontation should take place in the United States. Previously, US District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton dismissed the case due to a lack of jurisdiction.

It’s clear that the labels in the US and elsewhere are determined to stamp out the stream-ripping threat, wherever it may appear.

As reported here on TF yesterday, the RIAA recently obtained a DMCA subpoena to unmask the operator of stream-ripping site YouTubNow, a platform with an estimated 15 million monthly visits.

The domains to be blocked by ISPs in Australia are as follows:

2conv.com
Flv2mp3.by
Flv2mp3.com
Flv2mp3.org
Convert2mp3.net
Flvto.biz
Flvto.com

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ISP Telenor Will Block The Pirate Bay in Sweden Without a Shot Fired

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-telenor-will-block-the-pirate-bay-in-sweden-without-a-shot-fired-180520/

Back in 2014, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Bredbandsbolaget, one of Sweden’s largest ISPs.

The copyright holders asked the Stockholm District Court to order the ISP to block The Pirate Bay and streaming site Swefilmer, claiming that the provider knowingly facilitated access to the pirate platforms and assisted their pirating users.

Soon after the ISP fought back, refusing to block the sites in a determined response to the Court.

“Bredbandsbolaget’s role is to provide its subscribers with access to the Internet, thereby contributing to the free flow of information and the ability for people to reach each other and communicate,” the company said in a statement.

“Bredbandsbolaget does not block content or services based on individual organizations’ requests. There is no legal obligation for operators to block either The Pirate Bay or Swefilmer.”

In February 2015 the parties met in court, with Bredbandsbolaget arguing in favor of the “important principle” that ISPs should not be held responsible for content exchanged over the Internet, in the same way the postal service isn’t responsible for the contents of an envelope.

But with TV companies SVT, TV4 Group, MTG TV, SBS Discovery and C More teaming up with the IFPI alongside Paramount, Disney, Warner and Sony in the case, Bredbandsbolaget would need to pull out all the stops to obtain victory. The company worked hard and initially the news was good.

In November 2015, the Stockholm District Court decided that the copyright holders could not force Bredbandsbolaget to block the pirate sites, ruling that the ISP’s operations did not amount to participation in the copyright infringement offenses carried out by some of its ‘pirate’ subscribers.

However, the case subsequently went to appeal, with the brand new Patent and Market Court of Appeal hearing arguments. In February 2017 it handed down its decision, which overruled the earlier ruling of the District Court and ordered Bredbandsbolaget to implement “technical measures” to prevent its customers accessing the ‘pirate’ sites through a number of domain names and URLs.

With nowhere left to go, Bredbandsbolaget and owner Telenor were left hanging onto their original statement which vehemently opposed site-blocking.

“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” they said.

In March 2017, Bredbandsbolaget blocked The Pirate Bay but said it would not give up the fight.

“We are now forced to contest any future blocking demands. It is the only way for us and other Internet operators to ensure that private players should not have the last word regarding the content that should be accessible on the Internet,” Bredbandsbolaget said.

While it’s not clear whether any additional blocking demands have been filed with the ISP, this week an announcement by Bredbandsbolaget parent company Telenor revealed an unexpected knock-on effect. Seemingly without a single shot being fired, The Pirate Bay will now be blocked by Telenor too.

The background lies in Telenor’s acquisition of Bredbandsbolaget back in 2005. Until this week the companies operated under separate brands but will now merge into one entity.

“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget today take the final step on their joint trip and become the same company with the same name. As a result, Telenor becomes a comprehensive provider of broadband, TV and mobile communications,” the company said in a statement this week.

“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget have shared both logo and organization for the last 13 years. Today, we take the last step in the relationship and consolidate the companies under the same name.”

Up until this final merger, 600,000 Bredbandsbolaget broadband customers were denied access to The Pirate Bay. Now it appears that Telenor’s 700,000 fiber and broadband customers will be affected too. The new single-brand company says it has decided to block the notorious torrent site across its entire network.

“We have not discontinued Bredbandsbolaget, but we have merged Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and become one,” the company said.

“When we share the same network, The Pirate Bay is blocked by both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and there is nothing we plan to change in the future.”

TorrentFreak contacted the PR departments of both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget requesting information on why a court order aimed at only the latter’s customers would now affect those of the former too, more than doubling the blockade’s reach. Neither company responded which leaves only speculation as to its motives.

On the one hand, the decision to voluntarily implement an expanded blockade could perhaps be viewed as a little unusual given how much time, effort and money has been invested in fighting web-blockades in Sweden.

On the other, the merger of the companies may present legal difficulties as far as the court order goes and it could certainly cause friction among the customer base of Telenor if some customers could access TPB, and others could not.

In any event, the legal basis for web-blocking on copyright infringement grounds was firmly established last year at the EU level, which means that Telenor would lose any future legal battle, should it decide to dig in its heels. On that basis alone, the decision to block all customers probably makes perfect commercial sense.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Aussie Federal Court Orders ISPs to Block Pirate IPTV Service

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/aussie-federal-court-orders-isps-to-block-pirate-iptv-service-180427/

After successful applying for ISP blocks against dozens of traditional torrent and streaming portals, Village Roadshow and a coalition of movie studios switched tack last year.

With the threat of pirate subscription IPTV services looming large, Roadshow, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount targeted HDSubs+ (also known as PressPlayPlus), a fairly well-known service that provides hundreds of otherwise premium live channels, movies, and sports for a relatively small monthly fee.

The injunction, which was filed last October, targets Australia’s largest ISPs including Telstra, Optus, TPG, and Vocus, plus subsidiaries.

Unlike blocking injunctions targeting regular sites, the studios sought to have several elements of HD Subs+ infrastructure rendered inaccessible, so that its sales platform, EPG (electronic program guide), software (such as an Android and set-top box app), updates, and sundry other services would fail to operate in Australia.

After a six month wait, the Federal Court granted the application earlier today, compelling Australia’s ISPs to block “16 online locations” associated with the HD Subs+ service, rendering its TV services inaccessible Down Under.

“Each respondent must, within 15 business days of service of these orders, take reasonable steps to disable access to the target online locations,” said Justice Nicholas, as quoted by ZDNet.

A small selection of channels in the HDSubs+ package

The ISPs were given flexibility in how to implement the ban, with the Judge noting that DNS blocking, IP address blocking or rerouting, URL blocking, or “any alternative technical means for disabling access”, would be acceptable.

The rightsholders are required to pay a fee of AU$50 fee for each domain they want to block but Village Roadshow says it doesn’t mind doing so, since blocking is in “public interest”. Continuing a pattern established last year, none of the ISPs showed up to the judgment.

A similar IPTV blocking application was filed by Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) last year.

TVB wants ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG plus their subsidiaries to block access to seven Android-based services named as A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

The application was previously heard alongside the HD Subs+ case but will now be handled separately following complications. In April it was revealed that TVB not only wants to block Internet locations related to the technical operation of the service, but also hosting sites that fulfill a role similar to that of Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

TVB wants to have these app marketplaces blocked by Australian ISPs, which would not only render the illicit apps inaccessible to the public but all of the non-infringing ones too.

Justice Nicholas will now have to decide whether the “primary purpose” of these marketplaces is to infringe or facilitate the infringement of TVB’s copyrights. However, there is also a question of whether China-focused live programming has copyright status in Australia. An additional hearing is scheduled for May 2 for these matters to be addressed.

Also on Friday, Foxtel filed yet another blocking application targeting “15 online locations” involving 27 domain names connected to traditional BitTorrent and streaming services.

According to ComputerWorld the injunction targets the same set of ISPs but this time around, Foxtel is trying to save on costs.

The company doesn’t want to have expert witnesses present in court, doesn’t want to stage live demos of websites, and would like to rely on videos and screenshots instead. Foxtel also says that if the ISPs agree, it won’t serve its evidence on them as it has done previously.

The company asked Justice Nicholas to deal with the injunction application “on paper” but he declined, setting a hearing for June 18 but accepting screenshots and videos as evidence.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Terabytes Of US Military Social Media Spying S3 Data Exposed

Post Syndicated from Darknet original https://www.darknet.org.uk/2017/11/terabytes-us-military-social-media-spying-s3-data-exposed/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=darknetfeed

Terabytes Of US Military Social Media Spying S3 Data Exposed

Once again the old, default Amazon AWS S3 settings are catching people out, this time the US Military has left terabytes of social media spying S3 data exposed to everyone for years.

It’s not long ago since a Time Warner vendor and their sloppy AWS S3 config leaked over 4 million customer records and left S3 data exposed, and that’s not the only case – there’s plenty more.

Three misconfigured AWS S3 buckets have been discovered wide open on the public internet containing “dozens of terabytes” of social media posts and similar pages – all scraped from around the world by the US military to identify and profile persons of interest.

Read the rest of Terabytes Of US Military Social Media Spying S3 Data Exposed now! Only available at Darknet.

Time Warner Hacked – AWS Config Exposes 4M Subscribers

Post Syndicated from Darknet original https://www.darknet.org.uk/2017/09/time-warner-hacked-aws-config-exposes-4m-subscribers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=darknetfeed

Time Warner Hacked – AWS Config Exposes 4M Subscribers

What’s the latest on the web, Time Warner Hacked is what it’s about now as a bad AWS S3 config (once again) exposes the details of approximately 4 Million subscribers.

This follows not long after the Instagram API leaking user contact information and a few other recent leaks involving poorly secured Amazon AWS S3 buckets and I’d hazard a guess that it won’t be the last.

Records of roughly four million Time Warner Cable customers in the US were exposed to the public internet after a contractor failed to properly secure an Amazon cloud database.

Read the rest of Time Warner Hacked – AWS Config Exposes 4M Subscribers now! Only available at Darknet.

Defending anti-netneutrality arguments

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/07/defending-anti-netneutrality-arguments.html

Last week, activists proclaimed a “NetNeutrality Day”, trying to convince the FCC to regulate NetNeutrality. As a libertarian, I tweeted many reasons why NetNeutrality is stupid. NetNeutrality is exactly the sort of government regulation Libertarians hate most. Somebody tweeted the following challenge, which I thought I’d address here.

The links point to two separate cases.

  • the Comcast BitTorrent throttling case
  • a lawsuit against Time Warning for poor service
The tone of the tweet suggests that my anti-NetNeutrality stance cannot be defended in light of these cases. But of course this is wrong. The short answers are:

  • the Comcast BitTorrent throttling benefits customers
  • poor service has nothing to do with NetNeutrality

The long answers are below.

The Comcast BitTorrent Throttling

The presumption is that any sort of packet-filtering is automatically evil, and against the customer’s interests. That’s not true.
Take GoGoInflight’s internet service for airplanes. They block access to video sites like NetFlix. That’s because they often have as little as 1-mbps for the entire plane, which is enough to support many people checking email and browsing Facebook, but a single person trying to watch video will overload the internet connection for everyone. Therefore, their Internet service won’t work unless they filter video sites.
GoGoInflight breaks a lot of other NetNeutrality rules, such as providing free access to Amazon.com or promotion deals where users of a particular phone get free Internet access that everyone else pays for. And all this is allowed by FCC, allowing GoGoInflight to break NetNeutrality rules because it’s clearly in the customer interest.
Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent is likewise clearly in the customer interest. Until the FCC stopped them, BitTorrent users were allowed unlimited downloads. Afterwards, Comcast imposed a 300-gigabyte/month bandwidth cap.
Internet access is a series of tradeoffs. BitTorrent causes congestion during prime time (6pm to 10pm). Comcast has to solve it somehow — not solving it wasn’t an option. Their options were:
  • Charge all customers more, so that the 99% not using BitTorrent subsidizes the 1% who do.
  • Impose a bandwidth cap, preventing heavy BitTorrent usage.
  • Throttle BitTorrent packets during prime-time hours when the network is congested.
Option 3 is clearly the best. BitTorrent downloads take hours, days, and sometimes weeks. BitTorrent users don’t mind throttling during prime-time congested hours. That’s preferable to the other option, bandwidth caps.
I’m a BitTorrent user, and a heavy downloader (I scan the Internet on a regular basis from cloud machines, then download the results to home, which can often be 100-gigabytes in size for a single scan). I want prime-time BitTorrent throttling rather than bandwidth caps. The EFF/FCC’s action that prevented BitTorrent throttling forced me to move to Comcast Business Class which doesn’t have bandwidth caps, charging me $100 more a month. It’s why I don’t contribute the EFF — if they had not agitated for this, taking such choices away from customers, I’d have $1200 more per year to donate to worthy causes.
Ask any user of BitTorrent which they prefer: 300gig monthly bandwidth cap or BitTorrent throttling during prime-time congested hours (6pm to 10pm). The FCC’s action did not help Comcast’s customers, it hurt them. Packet-filtering would’ve been a good thing, not a bad thing.

The Time-Warner Case
First of all, no matter how you define the case, it has nothing to do with NetNeutrality. NetNeutrality is about filtering packets, giving some priority over others. This case is about providing slow service for everyone.
Secondly, it’s not true. Time Warner provided the same access speeds as everyone else. Just because they promise 10mbps download speeds doesn’t mean you get 10mbps to NetFlix. That’s not how the Internet works — that’s not how any of this works.
To prove this, look at NetFlix’s connection speed graphis. It shows Time Warner Cable is average for the industry. It had the same congestion problems most ISPs had in 2014, and it has the same inability to provide more than 3mbps during prime-time (6pm-10pm) that all ISPs have today.

The YouTube video quality diagnostic pages show Time Warner Cable to similar to other providers around the country. It also shows the prime-time bump between 6pm and 10pm.
Congestion is an essential part of the Internet design. When an ISP like Time Warner promises you 10mbps bandwidth, that’s only “best effort”. There’s no way they can promise 10mbps stream to everybody on the Internet, especially not to a site like NetFlix that gets overloaded during prime-time.
Indeed, it’s the defining feature of the Internet compared to the old “telecommunications” network. The old phone system guaranteed you a steady 64-kbps stream between any time points in the phone network, but it cost a lot of money. Today’s Internet provide a free multi-megabit stream for free video calls (Skype, Facetime) around the world — but with the occasional dropped packets because of congestion.
Whatever lawsuit money-hungry lawyers come up with isn’t about how an ISP like Time Warner works. It’s only about how they describe the technology. They work no different than every ISP — no different than how anything is possible.
Conclusion

The short answer to the above questions is this: Comcast’s BitTorrent throttling benefits customers, and the Time Warner issue has nothing to do with NetNeutrality at all.

The tweet demonstrates that NetNeutrality really means. It has nothing to do with the facts of any case, especially the frequency that people point to ISP ills that have nothing actually to do with NetNeutrality. Instead, what NetNeutrality really about is socialism. People are convinced corporations are evil and want the government to run the Internet. The Comcast/BitTorrent case is a prime example of why this is a bad idea: government definitions of what customers want is actually far different than what customers actually want.

The Cost of Cloud Storage

Post Syndicated from Tim Nufire original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/cost-of-cloud-storage/

the cost of the cloud as a percentage of revenue

This week, we’re celebrating the one year anniversary of the launch of Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. Today’s post is focused on giving you a peek behind the curtain about the costs of providing cloud storage. Why? Over the last 10 years, the most common question we get is still “how do you do it?” In this multi-billion dollar, global industry exhibiting exponential growth, none of the other major players seem to be willing to discuss the underlying costs. By exposing a chunk of the Backblaze financials, we hope to provide a better understanding of what it costs to run “the cloud,” and continue our tradition of sharing information for the betterment of the larger community.

Context
Backblaze built one of the industry’s largest cloud storage systems and we’re proud of that accomplishment. We bootstrapped the business and funded our growth through a combination of our own business operations and just $5.3M in equity financing ($2.8M of which was invested into the business – the other $2.5M was a tender offer to shareholders). To do this, we had to build our storage system efficiently and run as a real, self-sustaining, business. After over a decade in the data storage business, we have developed a deep understanding of cloud storage economics.

Definitions
I promise we’ll get into the costs of cloud storage soon, but some quick definitions first:

    Revenue: Money we collect from customers.
    Cost of Goods Sold (“COGS”): The costs associated with providing the service.
    Operating Expenses (“OpEx”): The costs associated with developing and selling the service.
    Income/Loss: What is left after subtracting COGS and OpEx from Revenue.

I’m going to focus today’s discussion on the Cost of Goods Sold (“COGS”): What goes into it, how it breaks down, and what percent of revenue it makes up. Backblaze is a roughly break-even business with COGS accounting for 47% of our revenue and the remaining 53% spent on our Operating Expenses (“OpEx”) like developing new features, marketing, sales, office rent, and other administrative costs that are required for us to be a functional company.

This post’s focus on COGS should let us answer the commonly asked question of “how do you provide cloud storage for such a low cost?”

Breaking Down Cloud COGS

Providing a cloud storage service requires the following components (COGS and OpEX – below we break out COGS):
cloud infrastructure costs as a percentage of revenue

  • Hardware: 23% of Revenue
  • Backblaze stores data on hard drives. Those hard drives are “wrapped” with servers so they can connect to the public and store data. We’ve discussed our approach to how this works with our Vaults and Storage Pods. Our infrastructure is purpose built for data storage. That is, we thought about how data storage ought to work, and then built it from the ground up. Other companies may use different storage media like Flash, SSD, or even tape. But it all serves the same function of being the thing that data actually is stored on. For today, we’ll think of all this as “hardware.”

    We buy storage hardware that, on average, will last 5 years (60 months) before needing to be replaced. To account for hardware costs in a way that can be compared to our monthly expenses, we amortize them and recognize 1/60th of the purchase price each month.

    Storage Pods and hard drives are not the only hardware in our environment. We also have to buy the cabinets and rails that hold the servers, core servers that manage accounts/billing/etc., switches, routers, power strips, cables, and more. (Our post on bringing up a data center goes into some of this detail.) However, Storage Pods and the drives inside them make up about 90% of all the hardware cost.

  • Data Center (Space & Power): 8% of Revenue
  • “The cloud” is a great marketing term and one that has caught on for our industry. That said, all “clouds” store data on something physical like hard drives. Those hard drives (and servers) are actual, tangible things that take up actual space on earth, not in the clouds.

    At Backblaze, we lease space in colocation facilities which offer a secure, temperature controlled, reliable home for our equipment. Other companies build their own data centers. It’s the classic rent vs buy decision; but it always ends with hardware in racks in a data center.

    Hardware also needs power to function. Not everyone realizes it, but electricity is a significant cost of running cloud storage. In fact, some data center space is billed simply as a function of an electricity bill.

    Every hard drive storing data adds incremental space and power need. This is a cost that scales with storage growth.

    I also want to make a comment on taxes. We pay sales and property tax on hardware, and it is amortized as part of the hardware section above. However, it’s valuable to think about taxes when considering the data center since the location of the hardware actually drives the amount of taxes on the hardware that gets placed inside of it.

  • People: 7% of Revenue
  • Running a data center requires humans to make sure things go smoothly. The more data we store, the more human hands we need in the data center. All drives will fail eventually. When they fail, “stuff” needs to happen to get a replacement drive physically mounted inside the data center and filled with the customer data (all customer data is redundantly stored across multiple drives). The individuals that are associated specifically with managing the data center operations are included in COGS since, as you deploy more hard drives and servers, you need more of these people.

    Customer Support is the other group of people that are part of COGS. As customers use our services, questions invariably arise. To service our customers and get questions answered expediently, we staff customer support from our headquarters in San Mateo, CA. They do an amazing job! Staffing models, internally, are a function of the number of customers and the rate of acquiring new customers.

  • Bandwidth: 3% of Revenue
  • We have over 350 PB of customer data being stored across our data centers. The bulk of that has been uploaded by customers over the Internet (the other option, our Fireball service, is 6 months old and is seeing great adoption). Uploading data over the Internet requires bandwidth – basically, an Internet connection similar to the one running to your home or office. But, for a data center, instead of contracting with Time Warner or Comcast, we go “upstream.” Effectively, we’re buying wholesale.

    Understanding how that dynamic plays out with your customer base is a significant driver of how a cloud provider sets its pricing. Being in business for a decade has explicit advantages here. Because we understand our customer behavior, and have reached a certain scale, we are able to buy bandwidth in sufficient bulk to offer the industry’s best download pricing at $0.02 / Gigabyte (compared to $0.05 from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft).

    Why does optimizing download bandwidth charges matter for customers of a data storage business? Because it has a direct relationship to you being able to retrieve and use your data, which is important.

  • Other Fees: 6% of Revenue
  • We have grouped a the remaining costs inside of “Other Fees.” This includes fees we pay to our payment processor as well as the costs of running our Restore Return Refund program.

    A payment processor is required for businesses like ours that need to accept credit cards securely over the Internet. The bulk of the money we pay to the payment processor is actually passed through to pay the credit card companies like AmEx, Visa, and Mastercard.

    The Restore Return Refund program is a unique program for our consumer and business backup business. Customers can download any and all of their files directly from our website. We also offer customers the ability to order a hard drive with some or all of their data on it, we then FedEx it to the customer wherever in the world she is. If the customer chooses, she can return the drive to us for a full refund. Customers love the program, but it does cost Backblaze money. We choose to subsidize the cost associated with this service in an effort to provide the best customer experience we can.

The Big Picture

At the beginning of the post, I mentioned that Backblaze is, effectively, a break even business. The reality is that our products drive a profitable business but those profits are invested back into the business to fund product development and growth. That means growing our team as the size and complexity of the business expands; it also means being fortunate enough to have the cash on hand to fund “reserves” of extra hardware, bandwidth, data center space, etc. In our first few years as a bootstrapped business, having sufficient buffer was a challenge. Having weathered that storm, we are particularly proud of being in a financial place where we can afford to make things a bit more predictable.

All this adds up to answer the question of how Backblaze has managed to carve out its slice of the cloud market – a market that is a key focus for some of the largest companies of our time. We have innovated a novel, purpose built storage infrastructure with our Vaults and Pods. That infrastructure allows us to keep costs very, very low. Low costs enable us to offer the world’s most affordable, reliable cloud storage.

Does reliable, affordable storage matter? For a company like Vintage Aerial, it enables them to digitize 50 years’ worth of aerial photography of rural America and share that national treasure with the world. Having the best download pricing in the storage industry means Austin City Limits, a PBS show out of Austin, can digitize and preserve over 550 concerts.

We think offering purpose built, affordable storage is important. It empowers our customers to monetize existing assets, make sure data is backed up (and not lost), and focus on their core business because we can handle their data storage needs.

The post The Cost of Cloud Storage appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

The Fleischer 100: Pi-powered sound effects

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fleischer-100/

If there’s one thing we like more than a project video, it’s a project video that has style. And that’s exactly what we got for the Fleischer 100, a Raspberry Pi-powered cartoon sound effects typewriter created by James McCullen.

The Fleischer 100 | Cartoon Sound Effects Toy

The goal of this practical project was to design and make a hardware device that could play numerous sound effects by pressing buttons and tweaking knobs and dials. Taking inspiration from old cartoons of the 1930s in particular – the sound effects would be in the form of mostly conventional musical instruments that were often used to create sound effects in this period of animation history.

The golden age of Foley

Long before the days of the drag-and-drop sound effects of modern video editing software, there were Foley artists. These artists would create sound effects for cartoons, films, and even live performances, often using everyday objects. Here are Orson Welles and the King of Cool himself, Dean Martin, with a demonstration:

Dean Martin & Orson Welles – Early Radio/Sound Effects

Uploaded by dino4ever on 2014-05-26.

The Fleischer 100

“The goal of this practical project was to design and make a hardware device that could be used to play numerous sound effects by pressing buttons and tweaking knobs and dials,” James says, and explains that he has been “taking inspiration from old cartoons of the 1930s in particular”.

The Fleischer 100

Images on the buttons complete the ‘classic cartoon era’ look

With the Fleischer 100, James has captured that era’s look and feel. Having recorded the majority of the sound effects using a Rode NT2-A microphone, he copied the sound files to a Raspberry Pi. The physical computing side of building the typewriter involved connecting the Pi to multiple buttons and switches via a breadboard. The buttons are used to play back the files, and both a toggle and a rotary switch control access to the sound effects – there are one hundred in total! James also made the costumized housing to achieve an appearance in line with the period of early cartoon animation.

The Fleischer 100

Turning the typewriter roller selects a new collection of sound effects

Regarding the design of his device, James was particularly inspired by the typewriter in the 1930s Looney Tunes short Hold Anything – and to our delight, he decided to style the final project video to match its look.

Hold Anything – Looney Tunes (HD)

Release date 1930 Directed by Hugh Harman Rudolf Ising Produced by Hugh Harman Rudolf Ising Leon Schlesinger(Associate Producer) Voices by Carman Maxwell Rochelle Hudson (both uncredited) Music by Frank Marsales Animation by Isadore Freleng Norm Blackburn Distributed by Warner Bros.

We wish we had a Fleischer 100 hidden under a desk at Pi Towers with which to score office goings-on…

The post The Fleischer 100: Pi-powered sound effects appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Congress Removes FCC Privacy Protections on Your Internet Usage

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/03/congress_remove.html

Think about all of the websites you visit every day. Now imagine if the likes of Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon collected all of your browsing history and sold it on to the highest bidder. That’s what will probably happen if Congress has its way.

This week, lawmakers voted to allow Internet service providers to violate your privacy for their own profit. Not only have they voted to repeal a rule that protects your privacy, they are also trying to make it illegal for the Federal Communications Commission to enact other rules to protect your privacy online.

That this is not provoking greater outcry illustrates how much we’ve ceded any willingness to shape our technological future to for-profit companies and are allowing them to do it for us.

There are a lot of reasons to be worried about this. Because your Internet service provider controls your connection to the Internet, it is in a position to see everything you do on the Internet. Unlike a search engine or social networking platform or news site, you can’t easily switch to a competitor. And there’s not a lot of competition in the market, either. If you have a choice between two high-speed providers in the US, consider yourself lucky.

What can telecom companies do with this newly granted power to spy on everything you’re doing? Of course they can sell your data to marketers — and the inevitable criminals and foreign governments who also line up to buy it. But they can do more creepy things as well.

They can snoop through your traffic and insert their own ads. They can deploy systems that remove encryption so they can better eavesdrop. They can redirect your searches to other sites. They can install surveillance software on your computers and phones. None of these are hypothetical.

They’re all things Internet service providers have done before, and they are some of the reasons the FCC tried to protect your privacy in the first place. And now they’ll be able to do all of these things in secret, without your knowledge or consent. And, of course, governments worldwide will have access to these powers. And all of that data will be at risk of hacking, either by criminals and other governments.

Telecom companies have argued that other Internet players already have these creepy powers — although they didn’t use the word “creepy” — so why should they not have them as well? It’s a valid point.

Surveillance is already the business model of the Internet, and literally hundreds of companies spy on your Internet activity against your interests and for their own profit.

Your e-mail provider already knows everything you write to your family, friends, and colleagues. Google already knows our hopes, fears, and interests, because that’s what we search for.

Your cellular provider already tracks your physical location at all times: it knows where you live, where you work, when you go to sleep at night, when you wake up in the morning, and — because everyone has a smartphone — who you spend time with and who you sleep with.

And some of the things these companies do with that power is no less creepy. Facebook has run experiments in manipulating your mood by changing what you see on your news feed. Uber used its ride data to identify one-night stands. Even Sony once installed spyware on customers’ computers to try and detect if they copied music files.

Aside from spying for profit, companies can spy for other purposes. Uber has already considered using data it collects to intimidate a journalist. Imagine what an Internet service provider can do with the data it collects: against politicians, against the media, against rivals.

Of course the telecom companies want a piece of the surveillance capitalism pie. Despite dwindling revenues, increasing use of ad blockers, and increases in clickfraud, violating our privacy is still a profitable business — especially if it’s done in secret.

The bigger question is: why do we allow for-profit corporations to create our technological future in ways that are optimized for their profits and anathema to our own interests?

When markets work well, different companies compete on price and features, and society collectively rewards better products by purchasing them. This mechanism fails if there is no competition, or if rival companies choose not to compete on a particular feature. It fails when customers are unable to switch to competitors. And it fails when what companies do remains secret.

Unlike service providers like Google and Facebook, telecom companies are infrastructure that requires government involvement and regulation. The practical impossibility of consumers learning the extent of surveillance by their Internet service providers, combined with the difficulty of switching them, means that the decision about whether to be spied on should be with the consumer and not a telecom giant. That this new bill reverses that is both wrong and harmful.

Today, technology is changing the fabric of our society faster than at any other time in history. We have big questions that we need to tackle: not just privacy, but questions of freedom, fairness, and liberty. Algorithms are making decisions about policing, healthcare.

Driverless vehicles are making decisions about traffic and safety. Warfare is increasingly being fought remotely and autonomously. Censorship is on the rise globally. Propaganda is being promulgated more efficiently than ever. These problems won’t go away. If anything, the Internet of things and the computerization of every aspect of our lives will make it worse.

In today’s political climate, it seems impossible that Congress would legislate these things to our benefit. Right now, regulatory agencies such as the FTC and FCC are our best hope to protect our privacy and security against rampant corporate power. That Congress has decided to reduce that power leaves us at enormous risk.

It’s too late to do anything about this bill — Trump will certainly sign it — but we need to be alert to future bills that reduce our privacy and security.

This post previously appeared on the Guardian.

EDITED TO ADD: Former FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler wrote a good op-ed on the subject. And here’s an essay laying out what this all means to the average Internet user.

ЕК се активизира към Facebook, Twitter и Google

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/google-facebook/

В края на миналата година в  Ню Йорк Таймс се появи статия с красноречиво заглавие – Забравете за AT&T. Реалните монополи са Google и Facebook.

Поводът беше предполагаемата сделка между AT&T и Time Warner – но ако се интересуваме от медийни монополи, да погледнем към Силициевата долина, написа Ню Йорк Таймс , компаниите с господстващо положение в разпространението на медийно съдържание в наши дни са  Facebook, Google, Apple и Amazon.

Не става дума само за журналистически публикации.

Eвропейската комисия в последно време  предприема действия както по линията на конкурентното право, така и по линията на защита на потребителите, които заслужават отбелязване:

  • Що се отнася до защитата на конкуренцията, за Google в Европа се е писало доста, темата е преференциално третиране на собствени продукти и услуги.  За Facebook  актуална тема е сделката с WhatsApp.
  • Но сега има и втора линия на активни действия: според съобщение от 17 март 2017 г.  Европейската комисия и органите за защита на потребителите на държавите  изискват от дружествата, управляващи социалните медии, да спазват правилата на ЕС за защита на потребителите. Тук вече се засягат Facebook, Twitter и Google +.

 

 

Filed under: Digital, EU Law, Media Law

Simply Serverless: Using AWS Lambda to Expose Custom Cookies with API Gateway

Post Syndicated from Bryan Liston original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/simply-serverless-using-aws-lambda-to-expose-custom-cookies-with-api-gateway/

Simply Serverless

Welcome to a new series on quick and simple hacks/tips/tricks and common use cases to using AWS Lambda and AWS API Gateway. As always, I’m listening to readers (@listonb), so if you have any questions, comments or tips you’d like to see, let me know!

This is a guest post by Jim Warner from Survata.

This first tip describes how Survata uses Lambda to drop a new cookie on API Gateway requests. Learn more about how Survata is using this during Serverless Day at the San Francisco Loft on April 28th. Register for Serverless Day now.

Step 1: Return a cookie ID from Lambda

This walkthrough assumes you have gone through the Hello World API Gateway Getting Started Guide code.

Expand upon the “Hello World” example and update it as follows:

'use strict';
exports.handler = function(event, context) {
  console.log("{'Cookie':event['Cookie']}");
  var date = new Date();

  // Get Unix milliseconds at current time plus 365 days
  date.setTime(+ date + (365 * 86400000)); //24 * 60 * 60 * 100
  var cookieVal = Math.random().toString(36).substring(7); // Generate a random cookie string
  
  var cookieString = "myCookie="+cookieVal+"; domain=my.domain; expires="+date.toGMTString()+";";
  
  context.done(null, {"Cookie": cookieString}); 

};

This makes a random string and returns it in JSON format as a proper HTTP cookie string. The result from the Lambda function is as follows:

{"Cookie": "myCookie=t81e70kke29; domain=my.domain; expires=Wed, 19 Apr 2017 20:41:27 GMT;"}

Step 2: Set the cookie in API Gateway

In the API Gateway console, go to the GET Method page and choose Method Response. Expand the default 200 HTTP status, and choose Add Header. Add a new header called “Set-Cookie.”

On the GET Method page, choose Integration Response. Under the Header Mappings section of the default 200 HTTP status, choose the pencil icon to edit the “Set-Cookie” header. In the mapping value section, put:

integration.response.body.Cookie

Make sure to save the header by choosing the check icon!

For a real production deployment, use a body mapping template to return only the parts of the JSON that you want to expose (so the cookie data wouldn’t show here).

Deploying both the Lambda function and API Gateway gets you up and cookie-ing.

Be Sure to Comment on FCC’s NPRM 14-28

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2014/06/04/fcc-14-28.html

I remind everyone today, particularly USA Citizens, to be sure to comment
on
the FCC’s
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 14-28
. They even did a sane thing
and provided
an email address you can write to rather than using their poorly designed
web forums
,
but PC
Magazine published relatively complete instructions for other ways
.
The deadline isn’t for a while yet, but it’s worth getting it done so you
don’t forget. Below is my letter in case anyone is interested.

Dear FCC Commissioners,

I am writing in response to NPRM 14-28 — your request for comments regarding
the “Open Internet”.

I am a trained computer scientist and I work in the technology industry.
(I’m a software developer and software freedom activist.) I have subscribed
to home network services since 1989, starting with the Prodigy service, and
switching to Internet service in 1991. Initially, I used a PSTN single-pair
modem and eventually upgraded to DSL in 1999. I still have a DSL line, but
it’s sadly not much faster than the one I had in 1999, and I explain below
why.

In fact, I’ve watched the situation get progressively worse, not better,
since the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While my download speeds are
little bit faster than they were in the late 1990s, I now pay
substantially more for only small increases of upload speeds, even in a
major urban markets. In short, it’s become increasingly more difficult
to actually purchase true Internet connectivity service anywhere in the
USA. But first, let me explain what I mean by “true Internet
connectivity”.

The Internet was created as a peer-to-peer medium where all nodes were
equal. In the original design of the Internet, every device has its own
IP address and, if the user wanted, that device could be addressed
directly and fully by any other device on the Internet. For its part,
the network in between the two nodes were intended to merely move the
packets between those nodes as quickly as possible — treating all those
packets the same way, and analyzing those packets only with publicly
available algorithms that everyone agreed were correct and fair.

Of course, the companies who typically appeal to (or even fight) the FCC
want the true Internet to simply die. They seek to turn the promise of
a truly peer-to-peer network of equality into a traditional broadcast
medium that they control. They frankly want to manipulate the Internet
into a mere television broadcast system (with the only improvement to
that being “more stations”).

Because of this, the three following features of the Internet —
inherent in its design — that are now extremely difficult for
individual home users to purchase at reasonable cost from so-called
“Internet providers” like Time Warner, Verizon, and Comcast:

A static IP address, which allows the user to be a true, equal node on
the Internet. (And, related: IPv6 addresses, which could end the claim
that static IP addresses are a precious resource.)

An unfiltered connection, that allows the user to run their own
webserver, email server and the like. (Most of these companies block TCP
ports 80 and 25 at the least, and usually many more ports, too).

Reasonable choices between the upload/download speed tradeoff.

For example, in New York, I currently pay nearly $150/month to an
independent ISP just to have a static, unfiltered IP address with 10
Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. I work from home and the 2 Mbps up is
incredibly slow for modern usage. However, I still live in the Slowness
because upload speeds greater than that are extremely price-restrictive
from any provider.

In other words, these carriers have designed their networks to
prioritize all downloading over all uploading, and to purposely place
the user behind many levels of Network Address Translation and network
filtering. In this environment, many Internet applications simply do
not work (or require complex work-arounds that disable key features).
As an example: true diversity in VoIP accessibility and service has
almost entirely been superseded by proprietary single-company services
(such as Skype) because SIP, designed by the IETF (in part) for VoIP
applications, did not fully anticipate that nearly every user would be
behind NAT and unable to use SIP without complex work-arounds.

I believe this disastrous situation centers around problems with the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. While
the
ILECs

are theoretically required to license network infrastructure fairly at bulk
rates to

CLEC
s,
I’ve frequently seen — both professional and personally — wars
waged against
CLECs by
ILECs. CLECs
simply can’t offer their own types of services that merely “use”
the ILECs’ connectivity. The technical restrictions placed by ILECs force
CLECs to offer the same style of service the ILEC offers, and at a higher
price (to cover their additional overhead in dealing with the CLECs)! It’s
no wonder there are hardly any CLECs left.

Indeed, in my 25 year career as a technologist, I’ve seen many nasty
tricks by Verizon here in NYC, such as purposeful work-slowdowns in
resolution of outages and Verizon technicians outright lying to me and
to CLEC technicians about the state of their network. For my part, I
stick with one of the last independent ISPs in NYC, but I suspect they
won’t be able to keep their business going for long. Verizon either (a)
buys up any CLEC that looks too powerful, or, (b) if Verizon can’t buy
them, Verizon slowly squeezes them out of business with dirty tricks.

The end result is that we don’t have real options for true Internet
connectivity for home nor on-site business use. I’m already priced
out of getting a 10 Mbps upload with a static IP and all ports usable.
I suspect within 5 years, I’ll be priced out of my current 2 Mbps upload
with a static IP and all ports usable.

I realize the problems that most users are concerned about on this issue
relate to their ability to download bytes from third-party companies
like Netflix. Therefore, it’s all too easy for Verizon to play out this
argument as if it’s big companies vs. big companies.

However, the real fallout from the current system is that the cost for
personal Internet connectivity that allows individuals equal existence
on the network is so high that few bother. The consequence, thus, is
that only those who are heavily involved in the technology industry even
know what types of applications would be available if everyone had a
static IP with all ports usable and equal upload and download speeds
of 10 Mbs or higher.

Yet, that’s the exact promise of network connectivity that I was taught
about as an undergraduate in Computer Science in the early 1990s. What
I see today is the dystopian version of the promise. My generation of
computer scientists have been forced to constrain their designs of
Internet-enabled applications to fit a model that the network carriers
dictate.

I realize you can’t possibly fix all these social ills in the network
connectivity industry with one rule-making, but I hope my comments have
perhaps given a slightly different perspective of what you’ll hear from
most of the other commenters on this issue. I thank you for reading my
comments and would be delighted to talk further with any of your staff
about these issues at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Bradley M. Kuhn,
a citizen of the USA since birth, currently living in New York, NY.