Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back to the abacus (and hide you iPod) in Ventspils?

Some weird news from the port city of Ventspils. It seems that the Economic Police and the Business Software Alliance staged a raid on iLink, a company that says it hosts mission critical applications for some cargo-handling and transit companies in the port.
Reports conflict - the police say they found both evidence of illegal software and music and ringtones for which no licences were immediatly available. The company says that it had no illegal software and that the police overreacted to the music, which iLink employees may have copied from legal CDs. Howver, the authorities apparently interpreted the law, which allows making a backup copy, as being limited to a copy on the same medium(a CD), not an Mp3 file.
Whatever happened, iLink officials, some of whom were dragged off to the Ventspils police headquarters and detained, said the police hauled off most of the company's servers and other equipment, crippling the ability of several major transit companies to run their IT systems. In other words, these enterprises will have to revert to using abacuses, as they did during the Soviet era (although iLink dates back to some kind of Soviet agency started in 1979).
According to other reports, there were no signs as yet of scores of Soviet-time abacuses being recovered from attics and taken down to the docks by the managers responsible for recording incoming and outgoing cargos.
Some sources say that the BSA and police raid is part of a continuing conflict between different factions behind most of the Ventspils transit companies, with Ventpils mayor Aivars Lembergs on one side of the rift and other shareholders opposing him. In other words, Lembergs' people allegedly incited or influenced the raid on iLink.
The worrisome thing is whether the police did seize what may have been legitimate ripped Mp3 music along with the servers in Ventspils and will now have a precedent for snatching iPods and the like. As someone once said: "Does anyone seriously believe a person will buy a USD 300 iPod in order to put USD 15 000 of songs (the 15 000 songs at iTunes USD 0.99 apiece)?


Jurģis Ķiršakmens said...

Sanita Meijere (BSA) : (free translation)it is not possible that legal music resides on computers HDD becouse music sells in CDs. If you create backup copy of CD you should keep it only on such devices which are charged by (datu nesēju nodeva- whatever is translation of this).

Juris Kaža said...

I was right, hide your iPod!

Bleveland said...

Does anyone seriously believe a person will buy a USD 300 iPod in order to put USD 15 000 of songs (the 15 000 songs at iTunes USD 0.99 apiece)?

HELL NO! :))

This case stinks all the way from Ventspils to Riga I dare say without knowing a damn sh*t about it. How I can know that? Because the BSA stinks. Simple as that. Well, principally I do think that any company that agrees on the license terms when installing a piece of software also should follow that license agreement. Period. That is not the point here. What I have against BSA and basically any “controlling authorities” especially in young democracies like Latvia? Well continue to read…

From here on it is getting just hypothetical – I might be wrong as hell :))

Just ask yourself the following questions: who is running BSA LV ? No, not the dude or the chick that got the Latvian key account management job, but who is really behind it and most of all who is collecting the money? What the BSA apparently does is outsourcing the job to a questionable debt recovery kind-of-agency that would send some loony gorilla clones and one smartass to small and medium large companies to check their PC(s) for illegal software and multimedia. Believe it or not, they (the smartasses) always find something. Yeah, these fellows know how to do their job well! Then they would scare the shit out of the people running the company pointing at the gorillas and referring to the BSA, economical police and god knows who.
Finally they would try to settle for a fine. That's the whole business concept. As many fines as possible. They would get a commission of guess-how-many-% and voilà: there we are then!
There is some hope: as an owner or employee of the visited company you would easily get rid of them by kicking them of your property or by sending the dogs on them (mind the gorilla’s, but remember, they are lowlifes without any rights to get even close to your property without your specific allowance). An ordinary "I'll call the cops" will normally do it. The BSA people don't want to waste time fighting with you and the police (the ones they do not cooperate with, that is). For that time they can pay several visits to companies managed by easier fooled people. Once again; anything of the above is all according to the grapevine ;-)

For iLink it didn't work out this way though. I guess that in case they would have called the cops Lembergs himself would have answered the phone :))

The BSA is not alone. There are innumerous controlling authorities here in Latvia as I have understood. Some will chase Russian employees not speaking Latvian flawlessly others will claim they have the right to search your PC for *.mp3 :))
General my point is this: these kind of inspection squads should in an ideal world be very happy to find that nothing is wrong an everything according to the rules. But they are not. Not at all as a matter of facts. Nothing found means less or nothing to charge. That is why almost always something is “found”.

Hehehe, I wonder how many police kids will show up at school next Friday with a "new" gadget that happens to be a second hand Ipod ;))

Let’s get back to the Ventspils raid. Just for the record: does anyone seriously believe this raid was because of a few *.mp3’s or even CD-image copies on a HDD? NO WAY! Of course not, but there was probably nothing else to find.
This is just a vendetta and nothing else. Understand me correctly, I do not take part for or against any of the parts in this conflict, but if the BSA really would do this consequently, within a few moths practically every business or even authority in Latvia would in fact be out of business.

But do not blame Lembergs for everything. The guy is a smartass. For those who are with him he is a damn honest man that made such a beautiful town of Ventspils. For those against him he is just the no-good that used a minor part of his corrupted oil money to clean up downtown Ventspils. It keeps the people satisfied and confuses their (critical) mind. The old Romans already new it: Panem et circenses! Give the people bread and circuses!

Then again, don't be to hard on Lembergs. There is after all always the possibility that the Yanks are behind it. BSA is in fact an organ started by American software companies. The Yanks recently did it in Sweden when Pirate Bay was closed. Pirate Bay servers did not contain any software or media in general. Just bit-torrent links (in principal nothing illegal). It pissed the Yanks of and they urged the Swedish government to do something about it. The Swedes obeyed. But then again; the Swedish authorities did not out-source the job to some questionable “debt-collecting” agency.

Listen Juris advice: hide your Ipod!. But not only your Ipod. Anybody that picked up a new cellular phone the last 18-24 months should handle this with extreme care. Most of the new mobile phones, for instance the Nokia N81, do have a build in MP3-player and many people are also using that. Draw your own conclusions :))

It reminds me of all those “bomzi” that I see walking out of the liquor store or sitting in any park having a brown paper bag wrapped around their beer or vodka bottle (I can’t know for sure anymore). Apparently the bomzi get away with it so what I suggest is this: sneak into the closest LB store, get yourself such a brown paper bag and wrap it around your MP3 phone. You should be safe, but in case the police would confiscate it just tell them it might explode. That’s not a crime and given the fact that Nokia, Dell and since yesterday also Apple batteries tend to explode every now and then it is just thoughtful. It might cause some hilarity and you might experience some old Russian police cell from inside. So what? Better safe than sorry :))

Bleveland said...
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