DMCA as a vector for pornographic spam?

To: Webmaster of, Google has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that some of the material found on your site allegedly infringes upon the copyrights of others. We’re in the process of removing the allegedly unlawful materials from Google Search results. The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, may be found on the website of Lumen, a third-party aggregator of legal complaint notices, at

There's a law in the USA called the DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Amongst its myriad provisions is the ability for copyright holders to send takedown notices to service providers. If someone has ripped off your content, you can send them a legal letter saying "take that down". People often send DMCA requests to […]

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Liberating out-of-copyright photos from SmartFrame's DRM

Screenshot of a network inspection panel. Dozens of JPEG images are being downloaded.

During the middle of the 20th Century, the UK's Royal Air Force took thousands of photographs of the country from above. Think of it like a primitive Google Earth. Those photographs are "Crown Copyright". For photographs created before 1st June 1957, the copyright expires after 50 years. Recently, the organisation "Historic England" started sharing high-resolution […]

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What happens if you steal someone's Good Tweet™?

Fraud alert warning signs.

Way back in the early days of the Social Web, the writer Cory Doctorow invented Whuffie. Think of it as a way to formalise "upvotes" and "likes" on social media. Whuffie, a form of digital social reputation, replaces money and is a constantly updated rating that measures how much esteem and respect other people have […]

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Virgin Media Just Gave All Of Their Customers Plausible Deniability‎

My current ISP is Virgin Media. They get a lot of stick for being a bit useless - but I can't fault the speed of my domestic connection. They recently upgraded me for free to 152Mbps downsteam (and a less impressive 12Mbps up). As part of this upgrade, they sent me an email stating: now […]

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Should Wikipedia Have 3D Models of Sculptures?

I was wandering round The Henry Moore Foundation last Friday - thanks to the delightful wedding of my good friends Mike and Nikki. Looking at the abstract statues and carvings, I was struck not only by their beauty, but by how easy they would be to reproduce with a 3D printer. Ok - ok! I'm […]

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Shakespeare And Emoticons

Scan of the first folio of Shakespeare's work. It mentions Sir Smile. Which is then followed by a colon and close bracket.

Rob Pensalfini has written a delightful blog in which he accuses (or perhaps credits) Shakespeare with inventing the emoticon. He claims that this is within A Winter's Tail, Act I, Scene ii - in the first folio. So, I turned to the First Folio viewer which allows people to see scans of the first printing […]

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Sky News Infringed My Copyright

Still from a video - a blurry shot of a mobile phone.

UPDATE! I have reached a settlement with Sky. Update: 16 March, 2011. They have finally paid up! tl;dr Sky News stole my copyrighted work and distributed it without credit or payment. I asked them to pay £1,500. They refused. Full Story During the recent O2 brouhaha I recorded a video showing how the issue could […]

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WURFL and Database Copyright

Logo for WURFL.

When a phone's web browser visits your site, how can you tell what capabilities that phone has? How can you work out its screensize, whether it can play mp3s, or know if it supports a particular bit of JavaScript? It ought to be possible using a mixture of UAProf, accept headers, and media queries. But […]

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Google Contacts Copyright Madness

Google has rightly received praise for its reworked "Contacts" functionality. But there is still a rather glaring error. One of the things I love to do is add images to my contacts. It gives me a visual cue when I'm scrolling through looking for a person, it prompts my memory when I see the face […]

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Response to Government P2P Consultation

Royal coat of arms of the UK. A lion and a unicorn.

Dear Sir, This is my response to your consultation "Consultation on Legislation to Address Illicit P2P File-Sharing". I believe that the paper "GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON THE PROPOSED P2P FILE-SHARING LEGISLATION" is dangerously flawed. In this response, I shall outline four general areas of concern. Practical, Philosophical, Technical and Cultural. I also will provide a series […]

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