Large American Technology Companies Abusive Practices Against Bloggers

Orange Pi Development Boards

OK the title might be a little over of the top, but within the last month or so, I’ve been a “victim” of three American companies’ requests, via third parties, namely their customers or technology partners, never directly, to delete or amend the content of this blog. One which I believe is justified albeit not really necessary, and two are just ridiculous, with the latest one prompting me to write this post.

us_companies_against_free_speech

The first issue was about a post entitled “Allwinner A64 based Pine A64 and Banana Pi M64 Boards Can Now Run Windows 10 IoT Core“, where I shared .ffu firmware file links that I found directly via a page on Microsoft Azure github about Banana Pi board. There were accessible without any EULA, or agreement. So The Internet being the Internet, where you can freely share links that don’t break any sort of copyrights or promote hate, I added the links to my post, as well as a video showing the board with Windows IoT.

Two days later, I received an email from a company telling Microsoft had been asked them to ask me to “remove the ffu links from the article as MS are quite sensitive about publishing them” and “could you remove the video?”. I reluctantly did it, since I’ve received DMCA requests from Microsoft in the past for allegedly infringing on their copyrights in that post, but the way Google words them, it’s nearly impossible to find out why exactly. Google will normally comply with Microsoft request, so the page was removed from Google Search results, but funnily enough I can find it in Bing… On the bright side, there’s a lawsuit against DMCA by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in progress… Who knows, this might also help terminate YouTube’s “you’re guilty until proven innocent” policy regarding fair use of copyrighted audio and video…

The second US company asking me to modify my content this month was Intel, against by proxy, through their customer. The post was “Intel Atom C3000 Denverton Processor Targets Low Power Servers“, and a company contacted me to remove two pictures, and references to a specific company, as Intel had seen this was in conflict with an NDA. I got the picture and info from Anandtech, but I was explained that there’s been a misunderstanding with Anandtech when they published the pictures, and I could see they had themselves removed the pictures, so I did it too as I felt it was a fair request. However, I still have a hard time understanding how those two pictures can negatively impact Intel business, and IMHO they’d better focus their efforts on more important things. It also took them around 50 days to report the issue…

Netflix was the third company asking me to remove content or even delete a post by proxy. The interesting part is that I did not have any input from any company involved when I wrote “MINIX NEO U9-H 4K HDR Amlogic S912-H Android TV Box Coming in October“, as I got all my info from HDBlog Italia, except for one confirmation about the use of Amlogic S912-H processor. The post was written five days ago, and today I received an email by a third party asking me to remove the post. Wow, that’s quite a request without explanation… So I asked why and whether I could amend part of the post instead, and I was told that Neflix was quite unhappy about my post because of the text in bold below:

One interesting point is that Widewine Level 1 DRM is supported, so some premium video streaming app will support HD and maybe 4K UHD. It does not mean Netflix HD/4K will be supported however, as this requires an extra agreement with Netflix, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

It’s quite a well known fact that Netflix HD and 4K does not work on all devices, and Netflix even have a list of working devices. It’s quite hard to understand why this comment would become an issue, unless Netflix feels like it makes them look like the deliver a poorly supported service… Anyway, I changed the “inadequate” post by removing the text in bold, and wrote this post instead to make everybody happy 🙂

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Dan
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Dan

It’s mostly third parties who have little understanding of nuance, their told what to look for in a strict legal sense then use bots to scour the net for “infringements”.

Most of their threats are completely hollow and meaningless, they would not stand up in court plus your somewhere in asia right so it’s very unlikely they would ever pursue legal action so you could tell them to take a walk.

Carlos
Guest
Carlos

These big compañías go over the limit whith this kind of requests, justo because they are big and rich and do not mind to spend money un trials.
You write a ver y good blog and you are always respectfull and informative.
Keep up the good work!

nobitakun
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nobitakun

Please, TURN OFF the spanish word autocompletion, it sounds awkward lol. I always disable it since I speak multiple languages, common sense 🙂

peter
Guest
peter

That is Silicon Valley: such threats, patent craziness, massive tax evasion, lots of proprietary nonsense, massive lobbyism, censorship, all sorts of disclaimers to the disadvantage of customers… – and that more then enough reasons for me to avoid them as much as I can.

G
Guest
G

cnxsoft, if Netflix sees this article, they’ll ask you to modify it, and you’ll have to do it. So enjoy your happiness while it lasts. 🙂
But thank you for posting it.

Theguyuk
Guest
Theguyuk

Well as someone who got called a troll for posting about AMLogics GHz cheat on another forum, welcome to the neighbourhood CNX.

Hardware resellers, and companies only want praise in my experience. Hope thing go well CNX ☺☺☺?

Peter Bauer
Guest

I can confirm that many companies do not want to read facts about their products on a blog or a forum. Its common practice for some companies to use abusive and unsporting technics and methods. I want to bring some positive examples here. I never had any troubles with guys from Compulab, Hardkernel, Mqmaker.
Workarounds: Keep your blog and posts respectful and do not rely on a single email account/domain/internet provider or a single social network for writing something

Drone
Guest
Drone

The reason this happens rather simple:

1. “Big Fat Company” has Lots and Lots of Money and uses some of it to hire Lots of Lawyers. One of the Lawyers they hired is named “Sally”. Sally’s one and only job is to browse the Web all day and tell people to take down Internet “stuff” that Sally “thinks” is bad for the Big Fat Company.

2. Sally is not a Technical person, she has No Clue what’s being said when it comes to technology – so she is making a lot of mistakes in her take down decisions.

3. If Sally doesn’t force at least some Internet sites to take down content every day, then Sally will not be able to “prove” to the Big Fat Company that she is doing her job! So Sally is determined to make people take down “Bad” Internet stuff – even if it is actually “Good” for Big Fat Company!

And the problem is getting worse these days:

1. In the above example, replace the Human Lawyer named “Sally”, with a software Robot named “Bob”.

TLS
Guest
TLS

As you’re not based in the US, how can US laws apply to you or your publication?
This is a load of BS and as ex tech journalist, I would personally not stand for this kind of nonsense.
There’s really nothing they can do to you, so I would simply ignore these kind of threats, as that’s all they are.

Also note that a lot bigger publications than you are having fun dealing with the “big boys” http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/09/07/reg_effort_to_attend_iphone_7_launch/

Joe Michael
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Joe Michael

The movers and shakers in this market are the engineers who blog and make things happen.
We set the market and shape the market such as cubieboards, banana boards, pi boards, esp
boards, olimex boards, arduino boards and now the EOMA68 etc.
It didn’t need any help from big crocporations.

Avoiding mention of big crocporations and instead start mentioning and linking all the
open hardware friendly and open software friendly makes for a bigger and stronger
open source community to lock out the big incumbents and their trolling
from any attention.

JM
Guest
JM

The movers and shakers in this market are the engineers who blog and make things happen.
We set the market and shape the market such as cubieboards, banana boards, pi boards, esp
boards, olimex boards, arduino boards and now the EOMA68 etc.
It didn’t need any help from big crocporations.

Avoiding mention of big crocporations and instead start mentioning and linking all the
open hardware friendly and open software friendly makes for a bigger and stronger
open source community to lock out the big incumbents and their trolling
from any attention.

NotALawyer
Guest
NotALawyer

You will never be a major tech blogger until you understand one thing: Threats are the easiest thing in the world for corporations to make, and many of them are utterly meaningless. The constitution still guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The only things you really need to be concerned about are reusing copyrighted content without permission, and deliberately lying about something.

Two ways to help you keep out of trouble: If you preface a phrase with the words, “In my opinion,” then just about anything you write after that is constitutionally protected speech. You are allowed to hold any opinion you like and to express that opinion, even if it’s not entirely factual. And also, when you report something from another source, preface it with something like “According to an article in footech magazine…” or “t was reported in the footech blog on (give date) that…”, this protects you because you are not reporting something as fact, you are just observing that someone else reported it as fact. If they later retract what they said, you’re still telling the truth – at a certain time they did report it (save a screenshot of anything controversial, just in case).

But ultimately you need to develop a little backbone and tell the companies to shove it when they try to impede your freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I am not a lawyer, so check with your lawyer before implementing any of my advice (see what I did there? That’s another way to keep out of trouble, you basically disclaim with an “I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, so check with an expert and don’t take my word for it.”)

JM
Guest

@TLS
Nonsense? Did you read the article? Even if he’s not based in the US they can immediately ask Google to delist his pages.

Also he relies on income from Google Ads and Google says “It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). For AdSense publishers, if we receive a notice or otherwise have reason to believe that your site is infringing, we may terminate your participation in the program.” Bye bye income.

Finally from what I can see he’s hosted by Cloudflare, another US company that must follow the DMCA. So in the extreme case they can take his whole website offline.

Good luck with your “laissez faire” attitude.

rebeL
Guest
rebeL

You do a great job, I hope you can resist all odds!
The truth never dies…

RK
Guest
RK

You don’t keep selling over-priced trash by being nice. You fight tooth and nail against any bad press. You buy out the competition and threaten the vendor you’d stop selling them if they package the competitions. You steal, and spend a whole lot of money on lawyers to get away with it.

Tech companies? Don’t make laugh. These are not companies in pursuit of money through technology. These are companies in pursuit of money through licensing and litigation. I.e. holding companies.

Though to be fair, IBM actually does good research as a very old holding company so calling the likes of Microsoft and Intel holding companies is offensive to IBM.

Nz1
Guest
Nz1

Do what you think is best.
If everyone does their bit and stands up against injustice the world becomes a better place.

Rafael Duarte
Guest

dont be a heater, dont damage your integrety, just keep doing what are you doing and do it exttemely well, show them how good you are

JotaMG
Guest
JotaMG

This subject is like skating on thin ice.
Just don’t be afraid.
ALL the advices of “NotALawyer”, IN MY OPINION, hehe, are pretty valid.
Two smart things you should think about:
1) don’t depend on Google’s money, there are much better ways to monetize your work.
2) have a secondary (backup) web storage to host your blog, just in case.
There are many news portals out there that will happily host your blog, pay you a monthly fee, and some of them even have lawyers that took care of the so called “abusive practices”.

juju
Guest
juju

Don’t use trademarked names, use things lik “croshit”, “don’tflix” etc… and link these words to a glossary so people can know why …

peter
Guest
peter

@JM
IF he

JotaMG :
This subject is like skating on thin ice.
Just don’t be afraid.
ALL the advices of “NotALawyer”, IN MY OPINION, hehe, are pretty valid.
Two smart things you should think about:
1) don’t depend on Google’s money, there are much better ways to monetize your work.
2) have a secondary (backup) web storage to host your blog, just in case.
There are many news portals out there that will happily host your blog, pay you a monthly fee, and some of them even have lawyers that took care of the so called “abusive practices”.

++
To rely (heavily) on these big corporations, is definitely something I would avoid…

Member

Looks like Netflix doesn’t like a spade being called a spade!

Oleg Chirukhin
Guest
Oleg Chirukhin

You can write me to [email protected], and I’ll create a copy of your publication in Russian internet zone with my responsibility as Russian citizen. I’m pretty sure Netflix or Microsoft can do nothing against it.

jqpabc123
Guest
jqpabc123

Large American technology companies

This is a common misconception. These companies are about as American as they are Chinese. In reality, they are “multi-national” which means their only loyalty is to themselves.

Take it as a compliment that they are addressing you at all. The fact that you have gained their attention is a sure sign of success.

Member

Just stop publishing anything referencing Microsoft. Microsoft is in decline and they got that way because of their past business practices. No one cares about their stuff any more. I wouldn’t write code for their platforms unless I was paid a lot of money. People that read CNX are too knowledgeable to be suckered into doing business with Microsoft.

A few years ago I had this conversation with Allwinner. Microsoft paid Allwinner a lot of money to bring Windows up on some of their chips before Android. I told Allwinner no matter how much Microsoft pays you, it won’t be enough to offset the damage done. So with dollars in their eyes they went and spent a huge chunk of their tiny software resources on Microsoft support. And guess what? Not a single customer bought it.

Too many people have been severely burnt by Microsoft’s past business practices. These people have learned their lesson and won’t deal with Microsoft any more. PS – Oracle behaves even worse than Microsoft and I won’t deal with them either.

Member

Contact Netflix directly and ask to do a story on their 4K licensing requirements.

Netflix is probably in a hard place with this. Netflix wants to deliver an excellent 4K experience. And there are a lot of vendors that want to sell 4K hardware. The problem here is that a decent chunk of these vendors will lie about their 4K capabilities to sell hardware. Then the people that buy this hardware call up Netflix and complain that it is Netflix’s fault that 4K doesn’t work. To address this Netflix wants to maintain a certified hardware list. Then it can inform customer that the hardware on that list truthfully produces 4K output.

it’s not like we haven’t seen a bunch of ‘4K’ cameras with 1080P sensors. Hint – it is impossible to build a a 4K camera without a 4K sensor. Anything else is snake oil.

It also not like the Pine64 advertised 4K video support. Then after you get the hardware they admit that hardware support for 4K video is there, but there are no drivers for it. That’s the kind of stuff Netflix wants to stop.

TLS
Guest
TLS

@JM
Yes, it’s nonsense. If any of the publications I’ve worked for over the 15 years or so that I was writing on a daily basis about tech, be it news or reviews or whatever, would’ve paid any attention to the kind of things that were pointed out in the above post, then they would’ve spent more time worrying about that, than running a business. That’s simply not something any publisher would be doing. This is bullying of a small blog and it’s nasty.

Member

There is a lot of lying going on with hardware. I bought a tablet six months ago that advertised 2MP cameras. When I got it the pictures were very blurry, but if you read out the statistics on the JPEG it claimed they were 2MP images. But I was annoyed so I dug into their Android implementation and discovered VGA sensors with software multiplying the pixels and averaging them to make the blurry images.

I then got into a fight with the vendor trying to return the device. Their defense was that the packaging claims 2MP all over it and they did not build the device and do not have the technical ability to verify the OEM’s claims. They told the credit card company that I was wrong and sent pictures of the packaging. I fought with them for about three months and was not able to return the device.

TLS
Guest
TLS

@Jon Smirl
And this is why places like this is needed and shouldn’t be interfered with by bullies.

Theguyuk
Guest
Theguyuk

@Jon Smirl
Reminds me of the AMLogic 2GHz lying and you get shouted down as does not matter, does not affect a media Player etc. Then customer are claimed to be at fault for being dumb and thinking higher GHz matter.

Any thing to justify fraud and theft.

olin
Guest
olin

thanks cnx-software for sharing this information, it is very important. for the rest of us: if you don’t like these practices vote with your wallet and don’t buy/use products of such companies.

miniNodes
Guest

We were just contemplating offering some Windows IoT services on Pine64’s, but this is cause for hesitation. Rather odd, since the file is still linked there on the GitHub page: https://github.com/Azure/azure-iot-sdks/blob/master/doc/get_started/windows10-iot-core-banana-pi-bpi-m64-csharp.md (See Step 2, first bullet point.)

Nobody of Import
Guest
Nobody of Import

@TLS
He’s using US based firms to POST this content. He’s subject to US law under those contexts. No, they can’t “make” him do anything, but they CAN make the hosting firm do it FOR him.

Nobody of Import
Guest
Nobody of Import

@miniNodes
Honestly…unless you’re using very Microsoft specific stuff (WHY?!) you don’t want to even USE their stuff. Heavyweight, amongst other things.

Windows IoT is an exercise in Microsoft trying to stay “relevant” in the stock market- why help them?

Member

@miniNodes

Amazon IOT services are a lot better. I am using it and I really like it. Their IOT is MQTT based and it can integrate with a database or anything else at Amazon. Plus they support making phone/web apps wiith Google/Facebook/your own login systems. IOT is also secured by public key encryption supporting your own root certificate. You can get free root certificates at http://www.letsencryt.com (would make a good story CNX) no need to pay $200-300 for one.

You can use the Amazon free tier for a year. Then if you still don’t want to pay, just make another account under a different email. Free tier is quite generous.

zoobab
Guest

@Jon Smirl
I think the Wintel tandem is in great depression at the moment. Intel lost the mobile battle to a great extent to ARM based chips, and Microsoft is nowhere when it comes to non-laptop/desktop systems. Most of the end users have switched to tablets/phones, and while Microsoft is still present on the laptop/desktop market, they will die slowly and painfully.

zoobab
Guest

@miniNodes
the FFU link on Step2 has been removed as well.

dextop
Guest
dextop

Stop to blog about Intel cpu’s and M$ os’s so they can rest in peace by themselves

Member

zoobab: Intel chips are like 20x more powerful than the best ARM processors. ARM is winning on battery powered, but when it comes to mains power Intel still has a 99% market share. Look around – data centers are 99.9% Intel, desktop/laptops are 99% Intel. There is nothing on the horizon likely to change this. Intel is going to be with us for a long time to come.

CNX: you can self-host IOT for toys but if you want to do something commercial use Amazon. It is cheap and it is an excellent offering. There is a reason Amazon’s cloud market share exceeds all of the other platforms combined. You can likely run your blog in the Amazon free tier for a year. Then when the year is up, just make another AWS account and move your DNS to point at it.

You can start off with AWS’s IOT support for MQTT. It is all there and everything is set up, very easy to use. Then if you are sending millions of MQTT packets you could switch to an EC2 instance running your own MQTT server. But now you pick up the headache of keeping it running, geographically mirroring it, and doing backups, etc. They give you 250,000 free MQTT messages a month, it will be a while before you out grow that. Just use some common sense – don’t send a temperature message every 2 seconds if the temp hasn’t changed.

For my application I am probably going to use both schemes. Messages containing real events will go to AWS MQTT. I will also set up my own MQTT server and only ping it with keep alives (once every 3 minutes). The purpose of this keep alive EC2 server is to detect if the IOT device has hung or lost power. If the keep alives stop (LWT), within 6 minutes the EC2 system will know and generate an alert into the AWS MQTT system. It is too expensive to handle the keep alives with the AWS service. Once every three minutes is 480 messages per device per day, 175K/yr. When you pay it is $5/million. So those keep alives are $1/device/yr. Cheaper to use an EC2 instance.

Amazon offers kits to help you get started.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=aws+iot+kit&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aaws+iot+kit

You don’t have to buy a kit if you already have a board, all of the software can be downloaded for free.

JotaMG
Guest
JotaMG

@Jon Smirl

” Look around – data centers are 99.9% Intel ”

Where did you got that number?
I think it is much less than that, data centers running on Arm clusters are here to stay.

Member

@JotaMG

I searched in Google for a few minutes and could not find a single cloud data center offering ARM servers. A few places are testing them but as far as I can see no one has put them into production yet. I do agree that ARM Inc is making a big cloud server push, but it hasn’t been deployed yet.

Theguyuk
Guest
Theguyuk

Arm has the home user market because of cost and home user easy use. They are a lot quieter that a noisy Intel, cheaper to run and don’t have to download large updates.
In time Intel market will shrink more. While growing home TV box power will put more infrastructure back in the home.

The old cloud computer structure from the ancient days when people used dumb terminals will die.
Marry cheap storage and quiet home TV box computers, that is where the home users cloud will be, all due to business data mining peoples data and lives.

In my humble uneducated opinion. Simple fact why have expensive infrastructure and costs when customers are happy to buy their own hardware and pay their own electric bills.

It will be access to content ( video, games, news and advertising ) that is where the money will be.. Folk just don’t see it yet.

( I know I will get flamed for saying it too )

Dale Humphrey
Guest
Dale Humphrey

Thank you for all the great work cnx-software!

Here’s a theory and or prediction from a GNU/Linux and ARM newbi. 29yrs of x86 and micro$oft (still have qdos). Look at the progression of ARM vs x86 on there timescales. Drop overly greedy corporations. Turn your back on them, and let them die! Micro$oft Apple, Intel and others along with banksters, and certain governmental systems feed on human life like a cancerous parasite, Technology is our food, water, and shelter, We need it to live in our modern world. Dont write about there inferior products, dont use or buy them, just let them die! I’m learning GNU/Linux, erased all windows above xp that came pre-installed on different systems(a handful of apps still depend on windows, but there days are numbered), thrown all my m$ software and recovery disks in the trash. Yesterday, after almost 7 years of using a program for windows called EssentialPIM, and months of failed attempts to run it virtually on ARM GNU/Linux, figured out how to use a csv editor to make the exports compatible with GNU/Linux osmo pim. It was one of the more important apps thats kept me a financial slave to micro$oft and intel. I’m learning, And I know I’m not alone.

ARM based GNU/Linux desktop O.S. computers and surely soon an android linux/windows real look and feel desktop O.S. (maybe even an over priced ARM apple desktop)

This is our immediate future.

spicysaturdayboy
Guest
spicysaturdayboy

it widely happen even on Youtube as seen in Lon Seidman https://youtu.be/sOuPBA67huc