London Police Now Pen Pals With BitTorrent Operators
Today in international tech news: BitTorrent website operators should expect some mail from British law enforcement. Also: UK booksellers push for a France-like book bailout; Sony and Lego team up to create animated toys; and Amazon launches Marketplace in India.
Britain's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has begun sending letters to people it suspects of operating websites that provide access to unauthorized content for "criminal gain."
The letters state that law enforcement authorities are working with the government and "industry bodies" -- this would be Hollywood studios and the BPI, Britian's music industry group -- and go on to say that operators of copyright-happy sites are in breach of the Serious Crimes Act.
Distinguishing this letter from scare tactics past, it adds that operators could face up to 10 years in jail for their transgressions.
The website TorrentFreak has confirmed that at least two websites have received such letters. Interestingly, neither of those sites is located in the UK, but police reportedly believe that crimes are still being committed within British jurisdiction.
Such letters are not necessarily new. However, linking this sort of copyright infringement to the Serious Crimes Act -- and declaring that a decade-long jail sentence could be coming -- marks an escalation in the piracy war.
The UK has been particularly proactive in trying to weed out illegal file-sharing. Last year, authorities ordered British Internet service providers to block the notorious file-sharing site The Pirate Bay; they have since expanded the list of blocked sites, much to the chagrin of some UK advocacy groups.
British Bookshops Ask for Help in Amazon Fight
Following France's pledge to give nearly US$12 million to booksellers to stop the digital bleeding, British booksellers are imploring the British government to do the same.
The big threat to business is Amazon, according to Tim Godfray, the chief executive of the UK's Booksellers Association. Bookshops, publishers and agents will all be extinct if Amazon continues its expansion, Godfray said.
Amazon was also the impetus for the French book bailout. In fact, Amazon seeks to create a "virtual monopoly," said Aurélie Filippetti, France's culture minister, adding that "everyone has had enough of Amazon."
That's everyone except people who like cheap books delivered to their door, perhaps.
Filippetti, a published novelist, is considering a ban on Amazon's free postage, she said, as well as the company's 5 percent discount on books.
In addition to the Amazon threats, France has discussed imposing a special tax on tablets, smartphones and laptops, all of which are undermining the arts, the logic goes.
Ergo, booksellers in the UK are hoping for similar measures. Indeed, there are now 1,028 bookshops in the UK, compared with 1,535 in 2005.
[Source: The Guardian]
Sony, Lego Team Up
Japan-based Sony and Danish Lego are teaming up to create a sort of hybrid between toys and video games.
Researchers at Sony labs in Tokyo are embedding motors, cameras and actuators into Legos. As shown in this demonstration, such "living" Legos can be operated with a wireless PlayStation controller.
Some Legos have also been equipped with the ability to "crumble" should a cannon blast, earthquake or other childhood fantasy strike just so.
There are no definitive plans for Sony/Lego consumer products -- they're just playing around at the moment. Hurdles to commercially viable products include battery life.
[Source: IDG News]
Amazon's Limited India Launch
Amazon Marketplace has launched in India, making that nation the 10th in which Marketplace is available.
Currently, the site only has books and DVDs.
Amazon has faced hurdles in India, where it has been prevented from selling directly to consumers. However, Marketplace is set up so that third parties execute the sales, thereby allowing Amazon to skirt the problem.
[Source: The Next Web]