Issues Round-up: Copyright, Ransomware, iPredict
Welcome once again to our weekly roundup blog! A blog post from James Ting-Edwards
2 December 2015
Asia-Pacific Copyright Association
Last week I joined a group of policy thinkers, legal academics, and creative industry representatives at the first conference of the Asia-Pacific Copyright Association. Copyright law is about what people can do with information whether learning, sharing, or selling. That’s pretty important for the Internet, so we welcomed the chance to join this conversation. It was excellent to hear a range of views presented and engaged with - a positive contrast with my experience in October!
The TPP was the large mammal in the room, but a frequently-mentioned one. Across presentations, one theme was the tension between international standardisation and local flexibility. Specific talks included:
- Investor-state rules in the TPP (“Can companies sue countries if local law changes?”)
- Chinese copyright at 25 (“Beijing wants strong IP, but chasing infringers is tough”)
- Could US-style “fair use” help librarians share information more easily? (“Yes”)
- An industry panel (“Copyright is working well as is, thanks”)
Best IP link? Inner-region innovators in China use copied brands to boost business appeal:
Imagine that you come back home from a family night out. You cruise into your driveway and press your garage door opener… nothing happens. Maybe the batteries have gone flat. No hassle you think, I’ll just use the front door. But your key won’t fit. There’s a note on the door:
“If you ever want to see any of your possessions again, pay over 9000 dollars to the following bank account”.
You call the police, but they can’t get into your house either. It seems your must choose between paying the ransom and never seeing your possessions again.
Ransomware is the online equivalent of this, with your laptop, phone, or stored data held to ransom. The information you care about - your family photos, financial records, customer database - all locked against access. With strong encryption, it is next to impossible to access this information without a digital key. The note claims that if you pay, you will get the key.
Rather than just reaching for your wallet, the best thing to do is to seek advice. Sometimes the data is recoverable, sometimes it’s not even if you do pay. If you’re an individual, contact NetSafe. If you’re a business, contact the NZITF. You need targeted advice to decide how to respond.
If you haven’t been hit yet, take some advice for staying safe:
One of the great features of the Internet is how it lets people share information. No-one knows everything, but all of us know something. Prediction markets, like New Zealand’s iPredict, gather up those little bits of information in useful form. Users set up contracts predicting future events, like “Red Peak will be the official flag for NZ”. That contract is trading at $0.06, so the users overall reckon there’s about a 6% chance of Red Peak becoming our flag. If that’s too high, you could try to make money by betting against the contract event, which would adjust the market price (and estimated probability). These odds were useful to lots of people, not least politics enthusiasts who wanted a way to predict election results around the world. That’s presumably why Wellington’s University of Victoria supported the project.
Unfortunately for iPredict, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges has effectively closed down the operation by applying the full rigour of anti-terrorism and money-laundering rules. Average withdrawals from iPredict were only $191, well below anonymous “stored value” credit cards which would be a much better bet for illicit money. When iPredict seems to have survived the Financial Markets and Gambling Act rules, it’s a bit weird that anti-money laundering should be a problem.
Here’s the news story - just one example of struggles to balance regulation and new uses of technology:
And now, with the warmer weather, it's a good time to relax with a refreshing, authentic beverage!