Posts tagged ‘copyright’


Intellectual property doesn’t deserve a black mark, but some powers-that-be do

22.11.2011

After being interviewed about the outcome of the ‘Wellywood’ sign vote yesterday (a summary of what I told Newstalk ZB can be found on my Facebook fan page) I was reminded about how a few Wellingtonians, who supported my quest to stop the sign in 2010 and 2011, were not that thrilled that I used intellectual property law as my technique.
   Those following this in 2010 and 2011 might remember that I was the person who called up the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Sign Trust, and was, last year, the mayoral candidate most active in trying to stop Wellington Airport from erecting the sign at the Miramar cutting. This year, with no local election to be concerned about, I remained active, more so upon seeing just how arrogant the Airport’s “leadership” was, before it flip-flopped again by saying that it should consult with the public (the same public it called insignificant weeks before).
   And yet, months later, I was also miffed about the Copyright Act amendments and the introduction of the “three strikes” law, one which the Government seems to be uncertain about as it supports it at home, and opposes it at the United Nations.
   This is not a populist about-turn on my part. I have a view of intellectual property which was refined in part by my time at law school, where I sat the first IP paper offered formally by Victoria University, and my work for TypeRight, the advocacy organization, which wound up winning an award from Publish magazine in the US. This experience leaned toward copyright, more than trade mark and patent, though I secured reasonable experience in TMs working in brand consulting and acting as an expert witness. Through that exposure, I began with the classical argument that the protection of authors, and rewarding them, are good things. No protection, no incentive.
   But, this must be balanced by the rule of law. What we had before the latest amendments to the Copyright Act already worked. Copyright owners could, indeed, pursue infringers, and a plaintiff and a defendant could fairly be represented in a tribunal. It would be up to the copyright owner to front up with a statement of claim, and they had better be ready with sufficient proof to make the case air-tight—just as any other plaintiff in a New Zealand court would require. That seems fair. I have relied on American law often when it came to pursuing piracy of our articles, and, again, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act there worked well in giving both sides a fair hearing without the presumption of guilt.
   As argued in some depth in 2009, and again in 2011, the three-strikes law—which, I might note, the PM was against before he was for, as was the Hon Peter Dunne MP—puts the power firmly in the hands of the copyright owner, so that a defendant has to discharge the presumption of guilt. A copyright owner, as we have learned, can get an ISP to do its dirty work in New Zealand, sending out infringement notices to its customers. Whatever I learned in that IP class at uni, I had always believed the law would take place in a fair forum, and that the common-law presumption of innocence would always stand. What is happening here runs counter to that idea.
   To be fair and balanced here, I should note that the law was proposed under Labour, and received the support of Labour when argued in Parliament, which makes me wonder whether the duty of being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was fulfilled properly during the debates.
   Such laws, unfortunately, do the idea of copyright no credit. They have sullied the good work that copyright has done in most of our recent history by protecting those who sought it, and deserved it. I think of those who were in the typeface design business with me, who opted to protect their works. Some designers only make a few dozen dollars per annum from a font that might have taken them six weeks to produce. Typically, $300 is a figure I hear for a design that doesn’t make the big time—and the majority do not, just like in music.
   European Commission VP for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, told the Forum d’Avignon on November 19 a similar story: ’97·5 pe rcent of one of the biggest collecting society’s members in Europe receive less than … €1,000 a month for their copyright works.’
   As reported in The Register, ‘Kroes said, copyright as it now stands is failing to deliver the economic rewards that are supposed to be its aim. At the same time, “citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognize and reward.”’
   The Register concludes:

In the context of the public’s increasing resistance to punitive measures such as America’s SOPA, New Zealand’s three-strikes disconnection notice regime, the acrimonious “iiTrial” in Australia (backed by the MPAA via its local sockpuppet AFACT), it’s also interesting to note that Kroes mentions the intermediary business just once in her speech – since, at least to The Register, it seems that most of the public’s hatred of copyright appears to stem from how the intermediaries approach it.

   The distinction needs to be drawn. We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. What we should be weary of are not just the intermediaries as The Register notes, but some of the parties who inspire, lobby and even offer to draft these laws. It seems those parties are often those who care little for the thoughts of the community, whether it be an Airport CEO, or politicians who are so inept at understanding their subject they confuse fact with fiction.
   While I will not be drawn on who will get my electorate and party votes for this General Election, the behaviour of some of the powers-that-be seem to support those who claim that we no longer live in democracies in the occident, but plutocracies.

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Posted in business, culture, design, internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, USA, Wellington | No Comments »


Why do the major parties insist on holding us back?

04.07.2011

In 2002, I did something really stupid. I bought a brand-new, 750 Mbyte Zip drive.
   After all, I had had three years of use out of my 100 Mbyte one, and since 750s looked like the way of the future, I had one installed.
   I can still count the number of times I used it on one hand, because CD-ROMs became common currency and replaced the Zips.
   So when I see we’re building more roads, it reminds me of the Zip drive. Investing in a 20th-century technology in the 21st century.
   When, in fact, we can grow a city and a country more effectively by ensuring its technology is up to speed with the rest of the world.
   If we’re going to attract the best and brightest minds to our shores—and many of them are in the IT world, and software is a frictionless export that overcomes the tyranny of distance—we need to have an infrastructure that isn’t stuck in the previous century, either.
   A forward-looking technological investment for better internet speeds or a real wifi network is better value—and potentially generates more jobs for this nation.
   Which makes me wonder just how clued up the major parties are in this year’s General Election.
   The disappointment I’ve seen in business-damaging legislation, from the Copyright Act to what potentially exists in the TPPA, suggests that neither major party understands what it takes to grow business sustainably in this nation.
   And now to see a sudden change of heart from certain members of the government and the Opposition when the UN has published a report calling internet disconnection a violation of human rights shows they never understood the law in the first place.
   From Ars Technica (emphasis added):

Michael Geist notes that on Friday, Sweden made remarks at the UN Human Rights Council that endorsed many of the report’s findings, including the criticism of “three strikes” rules. The statement was signed by 40 other nations, including the United States and Canada. The United Kingdom and France, two nations that have enacted “three strikes” regimes, did not sign the statement.
   “All users should have greatest possible access to Internet-based content, applications and services,” the statement said, adding that “cutting off users from access to the Internet is generally not a proportionate sanction.” It also called network neutrality and Internet openness “important objectives.”
   Interestingly, the report is signed by New Zealand, which enacted legislation in April that sets up a special Copyright Tribunal for expediting file-sharing cases. The penalties available to the New Zealand government include Internet disconnections of up to six months.

   That’s pretty worrying, when lawmakers don’t understand law. Would you have a mechanic who didn’t understand the mechanics of your car? A dentist who didn’t understand teeth? Or, for that matter, political party leaders whose opinion of their nation is so low that they might consider locking their nation in to backward industries?
   That doesn’t sound like understanding New Zealand, and its ingenuity and pride, to me.
   At least I learned from my Zip drive moment. You do when you spend your own money, outside the political world.

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Posted in business, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, Sweden, technology, Wellington | 4 Comments »


Wellington Airport flip-flops again, but pennies drop more quickly in Queensland

01.06.2011

Today, those of us on the anti-‘Wellywood’ sign page got some welcome news: that Wellington Airport would reconsider.
   But, I had to point out, this is again déjà vu. Last time, the Airport flip-flopped as well, and said it would consult the public.
   Given that the resource consent for ‘Wellywood’ was for nine smaller signs, any alternative proposed by the public that didn’t fit the specification would have needed a new consent. In the latest round of interviews, I called the process a sham.
   We’ve had so many mixed messages from Steve Fitzgerald of Wellington Airport and his colleagues that it’s hard to take anything seriously.
   March 10, 2010: we will do the sign. A few weeks later: we won’t do the sign and we’ll consult. By September: we will still do the sign. May 21, 2011: we will do the sign. May 24, 2011: this is part of branding Wellington. May 25: it’s just some airport land—it’s not as if we’re branding Wellington. June 1: we won’t do the sign and we’ll consult. And round we go again.
   Those opposing the sign were dubbed ‘small’ and an ‘element’, but now we’re the ‘community’. Sure beats being called ‘whingers’, which we were labelled last year.
   This is the sort of unimaginative management that is driving this country into the water.
   The public is against the sign. The film industry, from representatives I have heard from, is against the sign. The Mayor and the majority of the council are against the sign. Hollywood, as the trade mark and copyright owner of the original, is against the sign. The Prime Minister indicated he disliked the sign. The law is against the sign.
   You’d think that with such overwhelming evidence, Wellington Airport would have seen the light a long, long time ago, especially, as I said on Back Benches last week, yet another party owns the ‘Wellywood’ trade mark.
   Ignoring the lot suggests that Wellington Airport believes it is above the law. And that the councillors who elected to support the Airport’s position do not believe in upholding the laws of New Zealand.
   If you begin counting from March 10, 2010 to June 1, 2011, then the Airport has taken 448 days (and 26,000 Facebook users) for the penny to drop. If you look at the period between May 21 to June 1, then that’s still a shameful 11 days.
   Contrast this to another Facebook movement that happened in Australia today: the protest against posters for a safe-sex campaign being removed because of a few dozen complaints from a so-called Christian group, ACL.
   APN’s Adshel unit chose to remove the posters but, by 4 p.m. AEST, Adshel’s Australian CEO made a statement to say they would be reinstated.
   It’s a shame to note that Adshel would cave in to very similarly worded, homophobic complaints, while its rival, Goa, honoured its contract with its client, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization.
   The irony is that ACL has brought the campaign, which features a real-life couple, far greater prominence than it otherwise would have had.
   While Adshel didn’t apologize, merely saying it had been duped, it’s still a credit to Adshel CEO Steve McCarthy that the right course of action was taken given a 30,000-plus-strong movement at the time of his announcement. It wasn’t the perfect PR statement, but at least it didn’t attack campaigners and the Australian public—not to mention a few of us from overseas—as a small element or a minority.
   Does this other Aussie Steve have egg on his face? Of course he does. But he made the right call and he can, at least, move forward and not become Queensland’s most hated man. (Reading the comments, a Kiwi-born premier still holds that distinction.)
   One day for the penny to drop, versus 11. And a good deal of that 11 was spent alienating the people of Wellington. Not exactly paving the way for a great consultative process.

Above is the Australian ad. Complaints included that it looked like ‘foreplay’. My, my, it shows what is on the minds of certain people.
   If advertising featuring a couple might “turn people gay”, then, with all the “straight propaganda” out there, there wouldn’t be any gay people in the world.
   If we’re actually concerned about sexualized images out there, as the ACL claims, there is far more nudity in “straight advertising” to worry folk.
   If an eight-year-old who sees this ad understands sexuality, then that’s a bloody dirty eight-year-old. When I was eight, not only did I not know what sex was, but all I would have seen in this ad are two blokes. Now move on and let me play with my Matchbox cars.

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Posted in branding, business, culture, leadership, marketing, media, New Zealand, politics, TV, Wellington | 2 Comments »


One year on, the same issues remain pressing

23.04.2011

In 2011, the issues that I spoke about during my campaign remain as pressing as they always did.
   We still need better, wider and earlier consultation, whether we streamline current processes or create new ones for citizen engagement.
   We still need to build a city-wide wifi network, one which exists but needs a few top-level negotiations to make it work—with a real plan for expanding it to both lower socioeconomic areas and the eastern suburbs. It’ll create an infrastructure which will encourage more businesses built around teleworking, with a consequence of helping with traffic.
   It is a long-term plan, but just as roads were once the solution for 20th-century problems, the internet infrastructure is the solution for early 21st-century ones.
   Although, I must say, the ability for New Zealand to attract international investment for technological businesses has been hampered severely by central government and the copyright amendments.
   If you were an investor, you’d now think twice about investing in a country that has a presumption of guilt with an ill-defined concept of file-sharing. If you wanted a legislative minefield, there’s always the People’s Republic of China.
   If you were in the high-tech industry, you’d think twice if an MP equated the internet to Skynet, which, I might add, did not become self-aware on April 21, 2011. (Was this the reason for rushing the bill through under urgency, Mr Young?)
   I don’t know the government and the opposition’s motives, unless their will is to see New Zealand remain a low-wage, primary-products-focused economy bending to the whims of American lobby groups.
   New Zealand needs to capitalize on its creative advantage, Wellington even more so. We’re already behind the eight-ball on this, but our small population means we should be able to move more quickly.
   And start doing things that are right not just for three-year outlooks, but 30-year ones.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


National thinks the internet is ‘Skynet’ as copyright amendments pass second reading

13.04.2011

This would be humorous if the implications of the copyright amendments were not so serious:

Also speaking in favour of the bill, National MP Jonathan Young compared the internet to Skynet, the fictional artificial intelligence network in the Terminator movies that tried to destroy mankind.

That was in the National Business Review.
   I believe it’s also fair to hold the Prime Minister to account.
   This is the same man who, in 2009, thought this legislative amendment was a bad idea.
   He now thinks it’s a good idea, I imagine because it was passed under urgency and he can get away with it.
   The leader of the Opposition may indeed have flip-flopped on things, but I think he took a tad longer. The Prime Minister, on this issue once again, shows that principle is not one of his strong suits.
   Especially in light of the TPPA negotiations, this government seems hell bent on ceding our sovereignty to foreign lobbyists.
   In what I believe is a tactical mistake for them, Labour supported the amendment, too.
   The first big issue for the General Election has just crept up—the internet-savvy public is far larger than politicians think—and it plays right into the minor parties’ hands.

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Posted in internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, USA, Wellington | 6 Comments »


Errors abound in the New Zealand internet as government flip-flops again

13.04.2011

This one hasn’t happened for a while (over a year), and, the last time I blogged about it, I managed to solve the issue—after putting up with it for years prior to that. (The solution before December 2009 was to wait for the computer’s foul mood to pass—hardly scientific.)
   Unfortunately, this fix no longer works on Firefox 4. Deleting mimetypes.rdf does nothing and the error remains.
   Here’s the bug: when accessing Autocade, I got this message many times today on Firefox, Seamonkey and IE8. If I Tweet about it and ask others to head there, they don’t experience it, so, you might think it’s confined to me only. However, a search reveals that it happens to other people, but on other sites, and usually, only temporarily.

Autocade error message

   The error, which I’ll note here for the search engines, is that the PHP page is an ‘application/opensearchdescription+xml’ one and cannot be opened.
   The last few times I confronted it over the previous 12 months, I added www to the address (to get www.autocade.net) and I was fine again. This fix worked this afternoon, but it doesn’t work any more.
   I don’t think it’s the browser. If I use a proxy server, the page opens fine. I’ve tried this on two computers now, each with a different OS.
   Since it’s on our own dedicated server, I can assure you we haven’t made any changes our end, other than add content. Last time, I checked with our hosting provider and they can’t see anything wrong there.
   Which, in my mind, due to a process of elimination, leaves the ISP. They denied (last time I enquired, in 2009) that they were to blame.
   So no one admits it’s their problem. Any clues on whodunnit?

Incidentally, and maybe this is related since it’s all on the same server, I have had two New Zealand-based friends over the last few weeks say they cannot send emails to me any more. The emails all bounce back and they have had to resort to using the telephone. If it keeps up, I might suggest they buy a fax machine.
   Our server is based abroad, and I have to wonder if some of our ISPs no longer resolve DNSs properly any more. I’ve had the same email address since 1995 and we haven’t had reports from other countries having difficulty emailing us.
   Considering this government has now sneaked in a copyright legislation change under urgency (presumably to help American and foreign lobbyists), after PM John Key flip-flopped on the issue in 2009, very few things surprise me about the poor state of the internet here.
   The new law, which has likely passed by now, says a rights’ owner merely needs to allege an infringement for the accused to be automatically guilty. It is then up to that person to disprove guilt.
   If you find that my Twitter avatar has been blacked out, this is why.

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Posted in internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, USA, Wellington | 1 Comment »


Two years on, the mainstream media wake up over BYD’s ethics

10.04.2011

I said it in 2009, and apparently, so did a diplomat whose note was leaked via Wikileaks: BYD might not stand scrutiny in a non-Chinese court over its vehicles.
   When I raised it, a few BYD fans (agents?) came commenting, trying to pick holes in my post, though they were unable to deny that the company had been unethical. If someone needs to come and attack without substance, then it’s almost always a guilty conscience that motivates them. If anything, they confirmed every statement I made.
   That time, I highlighted two publicity images that Toyota and BYD had used, even though BYD said the F0 model is exclusively its own work. It’s a little hard to explain these two photographs, then:

Toyota Aygo

BYD F1

   I wrote at the time:

BYD’s general manager, Xia Zhibing, has been quoted as saying, ‘The BYD F1 [as it was originally called] is a model developed by ourselves and we hold the intellectual property right for it.’
   I guess there’s no shame at BYD, and that the ideals of truthfulness in Confucianism haven’t made a return to parts of Red China.
   Come on, Mr Xia, the only contribution BYD has made to the 2007 photo is in Adobe Photoshop! If you are going to lie about it, don’t make it so obvious by using someone else’s publicity pic first! At least use CAD to generate something new!

   The argument still holds when you examine the door shapes of the BYD F3 and G3, and the E120 Toyota Corolla; or the F6 and the XV30 Camry, though at least neither model has been cursed with retouching of Toyota publicity photographs. From the Reuter article:

One Honda source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited BYD’s F3 model in particular as a known copy with Toyota Corolla and Honda Fit attributes.

   It’s interesting that this has only recently come to light at Reuter, when the story was very obvious to most of us motorheads two years ago.
   Most of us know that copying goes on and China, Red or otherwise, is certainly not the only guilty party. There’s some hidden story about the original Nissan March and the Fiat Uno, for example, but usually, when these things are done, the designers do enough to get around an expert’s judgement, just in case one gets called up in court.
   BYD, however, hasn’t really done enough to cover its tracks. It’s one thing to be inspired, it’s another to leave clues everywhere over the finished product.
   Before 2009, I honestly thought BYD was a Toyota licensee, and while it would be very difficult (as the Reuter article points out) to prove copying or copyright infringement on a component-by-component basis (as so many parts are commodities), it’s actually not as difficult to examine the overall bodyshells and for a plaintiff to find evidence of objective similarity. Things might be a millimetre out here and there, but the argument would be familiar to anyone in the type design industry: Megaron is still Helvetica.
   Arguably, some of the technology is BYD’s (and the Reuter article has something to say about its efficacy), but there’ll need to be some investment in the look of the cars if the company doesn’t want to get an injunction filed against it by some Japanese automakers, as I said in 2009.
   It’s not as though the company is incapable of producing cars inspired by other manufacturers but with enough of the details hidden—some of BYD’s niche models could pass muster in a non-Chinese court.
   The BYD e6, the electric car on which a lot of the company’s hopes hinge, actually looks quite smart.
   However, the mainstream models, the ones in which Warren Buffett has placed so much faith with his BYD investment, don’t.
   There are so many Chinese car manufacturers that deserve to do well, because they’ve played the game properly. While their conduct during the last days of MG Rover in the UK left something to be desired, SAIC is going about its expansion largely the right way. Chery has been commissioning some wonderful work from Italy. Geely and Riich models might look derivative, but there’s no doubt that it’s their own work. I wouldn’t buy a Lifan, but I’d talk them up before I’d talk up BYD.
   BYD’s advantage is in its electric models, if they ever appear. The Reuter article leaves the reader in little doubt that the technology there might not be all that it is cracked up to be, either.
   The irony is I would really love the idea of all-electric cars to succeed and be affordable. If they came from China, I would have no objection, because it would mean that the world’s fastest-growing car-buying nation might be able to arrest its rise in carbon dioxide emissions. Even the Politburo’s subsidy for electric cars is a sensible move.
   But there is so much talent in a country of over a billion that copying, as the Chinese car industry moves into a more mature phase, does it no credit—and that could prove the undoing of BYD unless it sets its sights only on exporting the e6 and not the existing F-cars or the G3.

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Posted in business, cars, China, design, media, USA | 3 Comments »


Not all American hosting companies get it right

03.04.2011

While there was a British company that took months to respond to the equivalent of a DMCA complaint (under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act), generally American firms are very on the ball.
   There are exceptions. I won’t name this outfit but the weekend’s responses were laughable.

March 21: Pirate puts up a copy of one of our pages.
March 22: We find out about it and ask if the poster could cut the piece down to an excerpt at the least, or remove it altogether.
March 24: After getting no response, we track down the hosting company to ask for its assistance under its AUP.
March 30, 2.17 p.m. PDT: After getting no response, we open a ticket via its website and send the complaint again.
March 30, 6.06 p.m. PDT: Host company: here’s the address of the guy who runs the server.
March 30, 6.37 p.m. PDT: I’ll send him an email and keep you posted.
March 31, 7 a.m. PDT: Hosting company staff member closes the ticket, though the matter is not resolved.
March 31, 2.15 p.m. PDT: I add a comment to say that there is no response, and that, as stated, I would keep them posted, to keep the ticket open.
April 1, 1.51 a.m. PDT: Still nothing.
April 1, 6.47 p.m. PDT: OK guys, evidently they’re not going to do anything so your company now needs to remove our content, please.
April 2, 9.04 a.m. PDT: Hosting company, exact words: ‘what contents exactly?’! (The guy who asked me was the same one who gave me the email address on March 30—so he has access to it.)
April 2, 8.02 p.m. PDT: I respond with the link. Guess it was too hard for them to dig out a PDF in their own possession.
April 2, 11.03 p.m. PDT: The chap who runs the server replies, and I go and tell the hosts that that has happened.
April 3, 11.59 a.m. PDT: Hosting company staff member closes the ticket, though the matter is not resolved. (The page is still online.)
April 3, 2.40 p.m. PDT: I ask that the ticket remain open till the page is removed.

   I don’t mind giving away some of my content, and don’t check for my personal entries, and there’s stuff I do for Creative Commons. When work articles are stolen, I have to look after our team members and licensors, and our agreements with them.
   But for a hosting company to need to be told three times what page is at issue (and it’s only one page)—it’s not good enough.
   Still, waiting from March 22 to April 3 (so far) is not as bad as dealing with those chaps in Manchester, whose client was emailed, commented and Tweeted, and who themselves were emailed and Tweeted, in a copyright claim that went on from November to March. At least this lot is giving me replies regularly—just not quite the replies I want!
   Incidentally, at least one host—which did respond (and has always responded) immediately—requires DMCA notices to be sent via fax. So when folks ask why we still keep our fax machine, there’s one good example already. Even the last time we had to approach Google on a DMCA matter, we had to use the fax.
   You’ve got to love the irony.

PS.: As of the evening of April 4, GMT, the page at issue is gone. However, I can’t let the hosting company know directly any more because its secure server certificate is out of date! Let’s hope they get my email notice to close the ticket.—JY

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Posted in internet, publishing, technology, USA | No Comments »


My holiday as a car anorak

06.02.2011

Since New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are about the only two days I actually take off, I spent some time adding entries on Autocade, a site that doesn’t seem like “work” to me. It’s my hobby.
   The randomizer, which my friend Peter Jobes installed for me on the site’s home page, came up with the Eunos 500 today, which led me to look for this old Dutch commercial from 1993 that I rather liked, with a Chuck and Di theme:

The VO at the end (Dutch speakers, please feel free to correct me) says, ‘Xedos 6. The quietest car in the world.’
   But since I had a few days off, the site’s now up to 1,335 entries, and the latest, at the time of writing, is for the Morris 2200. It’s incredibly hard to find a decent Morris 2200 image, but I tracked one down today without going into my basement. Here’s that entry:

Image:Morris_2200.jpgMorris 2200 (ADO17). 1972–5 (prod. 20,865, incl. Austin 2200). 4-door saloon. F/F, 2227 cm³ (6 cyl. OHC). Twin of Austin 2200, identical in all respects but badging. See Austin entry. Similar to Wolseley Six, on the same basis.

Of course, it means that one has to refer to the Austin 2200 entry, which looks like this:

Image:Austin_2200.jpgAustin 2200 (ADO17). 1972–5 (prod. 20,865, incl. Morris 2200). 4-door saloon. F/F, 2227 cm³ (6 cyl. OHC). Development of Austin 1800, with larger E-series engine that had seen service in Austin Tasman and Kimberley in Australia. Good power from larger E-series, though cars were overshadowed by better Rovers and Triumphs. Twinned with Morris 2200 and Wolseley Six.

   Spot the similarity apart from the cars being basically the same? Both are of the 2200 in motion, wheels turned to the left, in flight.
   One suspects that BLMC didn’t want people getting a look at the car while it was stationary, so the promo shots were done with the 2200 in anger.
   The E-series engine actually wasn’t that bad, but the car was hampered with those same-again looks from the 1800, and a bad driving position, compromising what would have otherwise been a pretty good package.
   The other lot that was of huge interest to me hailed from China. Frankly, you can’t do a car database of recent vehicles without including a large amount from the mainland.
   Yes, of course there will be consolidation, but at the same time we are looking at a large population, happy to buy local (as in cars from their own region), and somewhat reflecting the buying behaviour over in India. There, you see Hindustans in the north, Premiers in the south, and Marutis everywhere; China tends to have models that sell better in their home regions. Even Volkswagen fields two compact sedans in the Jetta class, in recognition of this.
   That was a tough area to research. In the past, I’ve put up some of the newer models such as the Chery A3, or the easy-to-follow remnants of the British Motor Corp. (MG and Roewe), but I began tracing the history of models such as the Geely Haoqing. Geely may be Volvo’s parent company but there’s not that much about some of its earlier models which were based around an ancient 1980s’ Daihatsu Charade.
   Hopefully, there’s now some decent info in the Anglophone web as a result of my work on this and half a dozen other cars which will seem mainstream to readers inside China, and totally foreign to those outside.
   I also had a Twitter exchange with the webmaster behind Carfolio, whose site is far more comprehensive than Autocade. His aim is to record every detail about every variant of every model line, and I don’t envy his task.
   I was saddened to note this on his home page (emphasis added):

Carfolio.com has been collecting and collating automotive technical data for many years, before actually having a website or even an internet-connected computer. Realising that there would be interest in this database, I decided to put my data up online in a very useful and functional way. It has always and will always be free for anyone to utilise. Some people, however, have decided to crawl the site and put all the data into their own database and resell and republish the information without attribution, credit or acknowledgement. Some go as far as to add 10mm to the basic dimensions so as to try and disguise their actions.

The culprits are named on the Carfolio site, so, car anoraks, steer clear of them.
   After reading that warning, I added a small note to Autocade: you can take bits based around Creative Commons, but duplicating the entire site is a no-no. I know this goes against the idealism surrounding CC, but I would be horrified if millimetres were being added to my hard work, and render it useless.
   A few oddball models were added to Autocade for the enjoyment and use of netizens, including the second Honda Z, the Daewoo Royale (of which there is little information, and what exists on Wikipedia is not wholly accurate) and the three Tridents (which I could not have done without reference to Keith Adams’s excellent AROnline site).
   Now that I’ve done my dash for a few days off, it’s back to my real jobs. Have a wonderful New Year.

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Giving a toss about web hosting: Americans 2, Brits 0

23.12.2010

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Generally, I turn a blind eye to people who use thumbnails of our work or take an excerpt from an article and link the rest to us. Pity, then, that so many of these sites are splogs, but at least they stop short of outright piracy.
   It’s when someone takes an entire article, pretends it’s their own, and even slaps a copyright notice on it—that’s what gets my goat more. In the past fortnight, two websites have done that with Lucire material (and material from many other media outlets). Neither had a contact address or contact form, because nine times out of ten, these are solved just by a nice email, so our only path was to notify their web hosts in the US. God bless them both: they have acted.
   While the Americans have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act down to a fine art, less can be said about Great Britain. A British site, which I will not yet name because I can’t be arsed sending them hits for being thieving gits, has taken three Lucire articles, in full, one even containing my byline. Two are not from our regular RSS feed, but from the features’ section, which means that the person has to go in to our site and save the content manually.
   We wrote to them in mid-November, not asking for removal, but just a cutting back of the content of the first article we found. It’s not a big ask, and I see it as a good win–win. The article in question was in Lucire’s RSS feed, so I figured they had an automated script that took the content. They might not even have known it was there. And they were kind enough to provide a link, and that’s far better than some people who don’t even give us that courtesy.
   But then I found the two feature pieces that weren’t featured in RSS. It’s a bit much then, because that suggests a malicious hand.
   I received no reply to the very polite email I wrote to them. The blog comments have not been published (I wonder why). And I see that their web host, a British company, has done nothing, either, except to inform me of their abuse email address.
   It is crystal clear that this site has breached the host’s published ‘acceptable use policy’, and while Britain does not have a DMCA, there is the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, which I studied in some depth back at uni.
   The foundation of the British act and the American DMCA is identical, in that both are set up to protect authorship, and the British hosting company has been provided with more than sufficient evidence of its client’s guilt.
   It seems, then, that the acceptable use policy of this company is nothing more than lip service, because there is no response from the abuse address, nor from the fax I sent yesterday.
   A total of eight messages have been sent on the British issue, to two organizations who could not give a stuff about copyright infringement. The Americans only need one email. If you want to pirate stuff, there’s one hosting company in the UK that is your friend—it’s even won awards, apparently. At least one was from the Murdoch Press. I wonder on what criteria those were given.

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Posted in business, internet, media, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »