US Newspapers Threaten Legal Action Against Brave Browser Over Ad Blocking

The Brave Browser was created to offer a more streamlined user-experience by automatically blocking intrusive adverts and software which tracks user history. This allows pages to load faster and reduces the possibility of your PC being subjected to malware. Unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with a large number of major US newspaper publishers and they’ve now decided to threaten Brave Software with legal action. Seventeen publishers produced a letter to Brave Software’s founder and CEO, Brendan Eich which reads:

“Your plan to use our content to sell your advertising is indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website [emphasis in original],”

Clearly, the publishers are unhappy that the Brave Browser replaces their adverts with the company’s own alternatives. They feel it’s effectively stealing and allowing them to make money from other people’s content. If Brave decided to resist the demand, the publishers are prepared to take legal action:

“We stand ready to enforce all legal rights to protect our trademarks and copyrighted content and to prevent you from deceiving consumers and unlawfully appropriating our work in the service of your business,” the letter stated. “We reserve the right to seek all remedies for this infringement, including but not limited to statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work. We believe your planned activities will also constitute unfair competition and misappropriation under relevant federal, state and common law. By engaging in Brave’s plan of advertising replacement, Brave is liable for breach of contract, unauthorized access to our websites, unfair competition, and other causes of action.” 

According to Computerworld, Brave’s ad revenue model works by:

“Brave will scrub websites of most of their ads and all tracking, then replace those now-empty slots with ads it sells. Seventy percent of the revenue from Brave’s ad sales would be shared with publishers (55%) and users (15%). The latter will be able to turn that money — in Bitcoin form — over to their favorite sites or keep it. Brave will retain 15%, with the remaining 15% going to advertising partners.”

Do you think the Brave Browser employs a fair business strategy?

EE Announce Plans to Block “Intrusive ads”

United Kingdom based mobile network EE (Merger of Orange and T-Mobile) have announced plans to offer ad blocking services to anyone using the mobile network.

Olaf Swantee, Everything Everywhere (EE) CEO, demonstrated this new feature himself showing what would happen to the Web if his company did block mobile ads. This feature is far from revolutionary, desktop users have been blessed with this for many years in the form of the popular Adblock Plus. In recent years, this software has made its way to mobiles and in the latest iOS 9, Apple has included a similar blocking feature for certain content.

The main use for Ad Blockers is more prominent on free to use games and services such as YouTube where an Ad may pop up between each song or every half way through a long video. By doing this, you are reducing the revenue being paid to the developers and uploaders of the content which is why we have seen a sharp rise in Pay-to-use services such as YouTube Red.

Swantee stated the aim was not to block all mobile ads, but the more intrusive ones. By this, we are assuming those highly annoying full-page ads that you sometimes encounter while trying to view certain webpages.

eMarketer predicted that UK marketers would spend around £3.2bn on mobile marketing for 2015. This list could become a marketing tool for EE who could then block all ads and sell specific ad spaces to selected companies.

Geo-Blocking Could Become A Thing Of The Past

Geo-Blocking has been a hot topic in recent years, and even more so in recent years. The term is applied to the process by which certain digital media, most notably online videos are limited to certain countries based on where their IP says they are, but this may be set to change within Europe at least.

The EU commission is moving one step closer towards the idea of a unified digital market with recently purposed policies. Among the new policies are several sections that will not only put the end to geo-blocking within Europe but also will update copyright so that people can enjoy their music, films and digital games while abroad as if they were in their home country.

Typically in modern days companies, due to the laws of other countries, block watching or downloading certain things due to the local laws, most normally because the company the program belongs to doesn’t have permission to show the media in other countries, although this can also come down to the actual content being in breach of laws within the country in more extreme cases.

With the use of VPN’s (Virtual Private Network) on the rise, allowing people to pretend that they are in another country rather than the one they say they are from, more and more companies are either having to block VPN’s or find ways to share their products with the wider public. Netflix, one of the largest  media streaming services, has spoken out about this and instead of relying on VPN’s it has stated that it is seeking global deals allowing users from all around the world to watch their TV and Film’s in any country without any delays between releases.

Among the new plans are also steps for the EU to take piracy and illegal content online, while also looking at topics such as search engines behaviour and those of online companies to ensure fair use of the internet and remove any anticompetative natures that may have developed in recent years.

The final step in the EU policies purposed is new steps on topics such as e-health and the proposal of a “European Free Flow of Data Initiative”. With these steps in the next few years it could be possible to watch and download any of your digital media in any part of the EU without a delay between it being released in the UK or in Germany.

Thank you to the Inquirer and ZDNet for the information.

Sky Now Blocking Porn By Default

Sky Broadband has announced that it will be automatically blocking pornography and all material deemed unsafe for children aged bellow 13. The company’s “Sky Broadband Shield” will be automatically switched on for all users “in the next few weeks”.

In a blog post, ‘Brand Director’ Lyssa McGowan, said that “what we’re doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on'”. She added that users will be able to disable the filter by changing their settings.

McGowan stressed that the decision isn’t too much different from the current situation, in that all users will be sent an email upon the filter’s activation, giving them option of whether they want to keep it on or not.

“From January, we’ll be emailing our customers who haven’t chosen to activate or disable Sky Broadband Shield explaining its benefits and giving them the opportunity to make a decision one way or the other. Customers can activate Sky Broadband Shield, adjust or decline it at any time. Or they can simply wait for us to turn it on.”

Sky isn’t the only ISP to have a filtering system – all UK ISPs must have such a system, but currently none of them switch it on by default. Sky will be the first to do so.

Source: BBC News

Gmail Has Been Blocked in China

Google’s popular email service, Gmail, has finally been blocked in China. GreatFire.org says that China’s ‘Great Firewall’ had finally kept citizens from accessing the service altogether, after months of incomplete attempts at blocking it.

It’s said that the service was blocked on Friday, with users completely unable to get in. The news comes following evidence of intermittent blocking over the past number of months, but throughout users have been able to access their accounts in some form or another. Reuters says that many could still receive their mail “via protocols like IMAP, SMTP and POP3” using email clients on smartphones and PCs.

China’s ‘Great Firewall’ has been a great source of controversy in the country regarding freedom of speech. The ruling Communist Party has always utilised its web blocking power to prevent the spread of dissident messages in opposition of their rule. They’ve also sought to prevent the rise and dominance of Western companies like Google, in an effort to give Chinese equivalents, like Baidu and Alibaba, the edge.

Source: Reuters

The Pirate Bay Plans To Beat Censorship For Good This Year

The Pirate Bay had a lot of battles to do last year, having their domains taken down by court-orders and resurfacing around the world with new domains. This did not discourage Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde or Fredrik Neij, the founders of TPD, and furthermore, they plan on beating the censorship for good this time.

They plan on dropping the servers and relying on P2P connections, while the website will serve as an alternative DNS. For those who are not familiar with, The Pirate Bay released a tool named PirateBrowser that lets you access the website and bypass the IPS restrictions. Now they are working in making it create its own P2P network through which sites can be accessed without restrictions.

“The goal is to create a browser-like client to circumvent censorship, including domain blocking, domain confiscation, IP-blocking. This will be accomplished by sharing all of a site’s indexed data as P2P downloadable packages, that are then browsed/rendered locally,” a Pirate Bay insider explains.””It’s basically a browser-like app that uses webkit to render pages, BitTorrent to download the content while storing everything locally,” he adds.

The website updates will be incremental so as not to download the entire site every day. The disk space required is said to vary between a few megabytes up to several gigabytes for larger torrent index. The main idea is that there is no central IP address, therefore it cannot be blocked by any ISP.

TPB has big ideas in the works this year, and given the following information, they can even pull this off and offer a pool of torrents once more, without censorship. Let’s just hope that P2P transfers don’t become illegal through some other law in the works.

Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this infomration