Audit Notes: Data Pool 3, The UK Prints, Copyright

Scotland Yard arrested four top current and former Sun journalists and a cop. The Guardian’s Nick Davies gives us the context and says it’s a major development:

And technicians have retrieved an enormous reservoir of material from News International’s central computer servers, including one particularly vast collection that may yet prove to be the stick that breaks the media mogul’s back. It is known as Data Pool 3.

It contains several hundred million emails sent and received over the years by employees of the News of the World - and of the three other Murdoch titles. Data Pool 3 is so big that the police are not even attempting to read every message. Instead, there are two teams searching it for key words: a detective sergeant with five detective constables from Scotland Yard working secretly on criminal leads; and 32 civilians working for the Management and Standards Committee, providing information for the civil actions brought by public figures and for the Leveson inquiry and passing relevant material to police.

For News International, Data Pool 3 is a nightmare. Firstly, no one know what is in there. All they can do is wait and see how bad it gets…

Third - and most nightmarish - Data Pool 3 could yield evidence of attempts to destroy evidence the high court and police were seeking. Data Pool 3 itself was apparently deliberately deleted from News International’s servers.

— Bloomberg View’s Mark Whitehouse replies to Paul Krugman’s column on the failure of British austerity:

That doesn’t, however, mean the U.K.’s austerity plan is a failure.

True, the U.K. economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2011, and by at least one measure — change in real gross domestic product since the recession began — Britain is in worse shape than it was in the wake of the Great Depression.

But by another measure — the cost of insuring sovereign debt against default — Britain is doing a lot better than other European nations that didn’t implement similarly ambitious deficit-reducing measures. The cost of insuring U.K. government debt currently stands at about 80 basis points (meaning 80,000 pounds a year to insure 10 million pounds of UK government debt for five years). By contrast, the same insurance on Italian and French debt costs 400 basis points and 165 basis points, respectively.

But Britain prints its own money and so is far less likely to default on its debt (which is what triggers a CDS event) than France and Italy, which don’t and are tethered to the euro, which is dominated by a country with an inflation phobia.

A better comparison would be the U.S., which also prints its own money. In this chart, the U.S. is the orange and the U.K. is the green:

— Paul Carr has a fun piece noticing how the tech community likes copyright when it’s their copyright. One tech firm swiped some software code from another one and sparked outrage amongst the info-wants-to-be-free set:

Do a quick search on Twitter for Curebit and behold at the self-righteous rage at the original crime and the extremely grudging acceptance of the inevitable apology. The last time we saw this kind of outpouring of rage amongst tech people was when — uh — the government tried to clamp down on copyright theft.

SOPA was a bad law, and good riddance to it. But consider the tenor of the conversation around Hollywood, cable TV and intellectual property in general right now. The prevailing view, outside of Hollywood, seems to be that IP creators need to accept that copying is here to stay and that criminalising a “victimless” activity is stupid. Make it easy for us to pay for stuff and we won’t have to steal it.

And yet when the victim isn’t a big evil Hollywood mogul (or one of the tens of thousands of people who work for him) but one of our own… well, then IP thieves should be dragged through the streets until they tearfully apologise. What’s the difference?

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,