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Archive for October 3rd, 2012

Dr Who Award Censured!

Posted by Boghound on October 3, 2012

Censorship Bot Made Mistakes

The entertainment industry has been using malware to seek out the copyrighted material and delete it. This fact became known after one of the bots accidentally closed down a legal live broadcast of one of science fiction’ most famous award ceremonies.

During the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which several thousands of people were watching through video streaming service called Ustream, the audience found the stream switched off when Neil Gaiman was delivering an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, "The Doctor’s Wife". Instead of the speech, thousands of people saw the words “Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement”.

Honestly, you could hardly find worse place for the use of copyright bots to come out of shadow. Ironically enough, the entertainment industry’s use of anti-piracy malware bots was made public in the middle of a bunch of writers who earn money writing tales of heroes fighting against high tech corporates who barely acknowledge the law. As you can understand, such a crowd will hardly let something like this lie.

Tobias Buckell, the bestselling science fiction author, was first to break the news on his twitter feed, saying that the censorship bot of the studios appeared to get in a tizzy over the fact that the award ceremony demonstrated clips from the BBC show. So, it is now clear that whatever the entertainment industry is using, it isn’t able to recognize fair use.

By the way, the videos were provided by the studios themselves, and the Hugo Awards had explicit permission to broadcast them. However, the digital restriction management robot on Ustream wasn’t programmed to recognize such basic contours of copyright legislation. To make things worse, the robots completely closed down the live broadcast of the Hugo Awards.

In response, Ustream’s CEO has made a public apology and promised that the company would never use Vobile robot again until they make sure it could tame its bots. He admitted that the broadcaster was using the bots in order to support a large volume of broadcasters using the free platform. However, he didn’t say why they had given so much power to the robot in the first place. The fact that Ustream couldn’t restore the feed quickly indicates that the bots had much power.

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