2002 August 30 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-30 11:52:35)

Trying to get back into the swing of things after a busy couple of days. Sorry for the relative paucity of commentary

I see that Larry is still tracking developments in the Winer debate. Others continuing include JOHO the blog and Dave

And it looks like Charlie Cooper is competing with David Coursey on the effects of mood altering drugs on his commentary. His latest seems strangely inconsistent with his earlier positions.

(6 items listed below)

2002 August 27 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-27 17:35:10)

Well, I did have DSL when I got home last night. Unfortunately, in spite of assurances to the contrary, Verizon was incorrect when they told me that I would not need to make any changes in my network setup. As an early adopter, I had a static IP address; with my move, they shifted me over to their current PPPoE setup – no warning, no announcement, no nothing. Moreover, when I politely asked the technical service rep how I might make a formal complaint to Verizon Online, he gave me a telephone number and a menu option (#4) code that led me to someone ready to CANCEL my service.

So, in addition to my work, this has been a day of figuring out what I need to do to set up a PPPoE/IP masqueraded setup for my home network.

In spite of this, I guess I have to give Verizon the benefit of the doubt following the publication of this interview by Declan McCullagh of Verizon’s associate general counsel. I have been adding some links (see the 20 Newest Links link to the right.) And I’ve been thinking about the roots of the Winer-Lessig debate – while Larry has decided to take on Charlie Cooper for his screed of a couple days past. I hope I’ll have something worth reading about tomorrow…..

2002 August 26 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-26 18:44:36)

Going to be a little spare here today – TPP Orientation starts this morning, and Ill be tied up all day. I really am looking forward to getting my home DSL link back today!

At least the Talkbacks to Charlie Cooper’s screed are worth reading.

After a long day, I’m going home to see if I have DSL – if I do, you’ll see more activity here later. Otherwise, it’ll just have to wait until tomorrow <G>

2002 August 23 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-23 13:26:19)

The "Stuckist Net" concept has generated a bunch of letters at The Register. The UK implementation of the EU Copyright Directive has a lot of people worried. BT loses their patent claim to hypertext. A look at spoofing and the state of the record industry at the Washington post is pretty good reading, too.

And it appears that ElcomSoft is coming back, looking for more

And, as a start on thinking about Dave Winer’s position, it’s worth trying to deconstruct this screed from Tech Central Station – the foolish analogy given does retain a kernel of truth; if the marginal value of production is zero, what’s the business model that preserves the economic incentive to create?

And Charlie Cooper takes on Larry Lessig, cribbing,as best I can tell, from Dave Winer. But, it’s all opinion – OK, I guess for an opinion piece, but a few hard facts might have been helpful. (Ugh: why go for a copy when you can read the original?)

More importantly, why not read something that moves the discussion forward?

(7 items listed below)

2002 August 22 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-22 21:21:38)

Sorry, everyone. I’m not sure what happened to Apache, but I’m sorry I was offline for the last 3+ hours – something else to research.

A good joke at BBSpot. The Listen4ever suit is on hold, but the RIAA is not standing still. the Sony/Phillips SACDs are on the way – a watermarked music medium.

Dave Winer’s latest Scripting News reads as if we’re back on track – good links and thoughts. Update: He’s posted his response to Lessig’s software copyright proposal – he’s drawn the lines relatively clearly.

Brad King says that all the action of the last months presages the next digital crackdown. This time we can’t let the targets be demonized. How are we going to prevent that?

I agree with Donna – Dave’s snotty position in re Larry’s book (at least he’s edited out his rejection of other’s offers to buy it for him) is unworthy of him. But, I’m afraid that it also exposes a serious fault line, one that may be fatal. Dave’s position that his software shouldn’t be exposed after 10 years because it takes that long to develop a market fails to account for the fact that he’ll be exposing ten year old code. Knowing how Dave works to respond to his customers, I cannot believe that 10 year old code is going to hurt his business model – heck, I doubt that he’ll be able to trace the evolution – unless he’s planning to sit on his butt once he gets a successful product – and, so far, that model is already demonstrably unattractive.

Since I assume that is not what Dave is planning, his response must be a knee-jerk reaction to something else – I just haven’t figured out what yet. But I think I know where to start looking – what does the source give you that the binaries don’t? Larry has politely offered up others the opportunity to explain, but I’m betting that he’s not going to get many satisfactory answers. Like Larry, I used to code; heck, I got paid for it while I was a graduate student. I’m willing to admit that I’m not a professional developer now, but I also know something about it. And something about Dave’s position has me seriously concerned. This is a dangerous rift that we need to understand soon; right now, we’re all talking past one another – the worst possible way to try to deal with a problem.

(4 items listed below)

  • The Register reports on the suspension of the Listen4Ever suit – the ZDNet article is here
  • I wish I could be as flippant as The Register is about the overall trends in copyright prosecutions.
  • Slate has an article describing what Sony hopes will be the next generation of music CDs. Slashdot points out that this format includes physical watermarking of the disk (see this SACD FAQ)
  • Slashdot wraps up the events of the last day or so; a lot of distressing copyright news out there. While there the usual Slashdot discussion, it’s also everything that Lessig has complained about. There’s nothing new, with the possible exception of the expectation of civil disobedience. That’ll make Jessica Litman and Declan McCullagh happy, but there’s got to be more. Here’s the comment that echoed my sentiments (although the cost rationale for copying needs more clarification, IMHO):

    Your Tax Dollars At Work
    I guess going after the WorldCom and Enron executives who

    perpetrated massive fraud and theft on their shareholders,

    employees, and customers is just too hard for the DOJ. It’s

    much easier to surf the internet for tunes, subpoena an ISP for

    personal records (thereby avoiding doing any work), and bust a

    14 year-old kid who can’t afford a new CD since his Dad was

    was swindled out of his job and pension by the economic

    damage resulting from widespread, unprosecuted corporate fraud.

2002 August 21 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-22 07:50:18)

Dave says I have misrepresented his position, and he calls foul. Reading Scripting News this AM, it appears that he and Larry have been talking directly, leading to this post on Larry’s weblog. Dave’s thinking about what their conversation means, and I’m sure he will have more to say later today. He seems to have heard something he likes, so I look forward to hearing what I missed – he cites this Ernie the Attorney post as instrumental, so it’s worth checking out, too.

Update: Well, it looks like what has actually happened is that each side has retreated and declared…something. I can’t exactly tell what. But here are some closing postings from all around:

Where does that leave us? Stuck with some thorny questions about copyright, software and source code – and a little sadder, because it appears to me that we’re just back where we started – I can’t shake the bad feeling.

Dave starts out asking the right question: So when I sell you the right to use my software, what am I selling you, what rights do you have, and what rights do I retain? But then, it’s followed by Be careful, if you strip me of all my rights, I’ll go make pottery. It has to be enticing to the creative person. (Link)

Although the words sound innocent, I’m worried by what I see here – but I’m going to have to work a lot harder to identify what it is that’s bothering me so.

And, if Ernest Miller is right, copyright may be the least of the problems.

The Register continues its attack on the changes in the Microsoft license agreements. And, if Declan, and now Brad King, are right, we’re going to be getting real close to the revolution that Dave (and Jessica Litman) are expecting. Plus, a great opinion piece at Slate on the music industry! And the president of News Copr. takes up the Princeton position (see below)

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Comment on the Winer/Lessig Brouhaha

(entry last updated: 2002-08-20 18:52:20)

Dave Winer has been decrying Larry Lessig’s position on software copyright for the past couple of days, and others have been jumping in to take one side or another (or to try to tamp down the whole discussion). At the risk of getting flamed, I’m going to try to take a shot.

Dave asserts that Larry is completely opposed to software copyright, and that this is a position inconsistent with the needs of developers to get paid for their work.

My reading of Larry’s position is somewhat less extreme. Doc Searls quotes from The Future of Ideas, so I will too (at the risk of exceeding my fair use quoting limit).

Worse, the copyright system protects software without getting any new knowledge in return. When the system protects Hemingway, we at least get to see how Hemingway writes. We get to learn about his style and the tricks he uses to make his work succeed. We can see this because it is the nature of creative writing that the writing is public. There is no such thing as language that doesn’t simultaneously transmit its words.

Software is different. As I’ve described, software is compiled; the compiled code is essentially unreadable; but to copyright software, the author need not reveal the source code. Thus, while an English Department gets to analyze Virginia Woolf’s novels to train writers in better writing, the Computer Science Department doesn’t get to examine Microsoft’s operating system to train its students in better coding.

The next paragraph argues that, without access to source code, data encoded using programs may ultimately be lost because no one can know how to extract it

The next paragraph suggests that access to source code is believed to make software unprotectable, hence it is not supplied. However, technical copy protection tools can be used to protect the software, for example

If society is to give software producers more protection than they otherwise would get through technology, then we should get something in return. And one thing we could get would be access to the source code after the copyright expires. Thus, I would protect software for a term of five years, renewable once. But that protection would be granted only if the author submitted a copy of the source code to be held in escrow while the work was protected. Once the copyright expired, that escrowed copy would be publicly available from the U.S. Copyright Office server.

The Future of Ideas; Lawrence Lessig; pp. 252-253

Now, I can read many things into this, but an absolute assertion that there should be no copyright for software is a little strong. I read this as stating that, since copyright legislation has generally obviated the requirement for registration, it should be reinstated for software. Moreover, that registration should include the source code, held in escrow, and that source should be made a part of the intellectual commons after 10 years.

I can see arguing about this. Maybe the time table is too short or too long. Maybe there should be more opportunities to renew. Maybe there should be some kind of economic fee associated with renewal. But arguing whether or not Larry Lessig is a communist and doesn’t understand/like developers is a waste of a lot of smart people’s time, IMHO.

There definitely are things that Larry doesn’t get – the two-way nature of the Internet, for example. But the social need to have some way to replicate functionality precisely without being indefinitely indentured to a programmer seems like something worthwhile.

And I can’t believe that Dave thinks otherwise. Certainly the tools he creates are not about lock-in; and the creativity he engenders can be found all around.

I don’t think that Larry says all code must be open source. I think he believes it should be, but that’s a long way from a requirement. Certainly, the proposal he makes above suggests that he sees that there are business models that would require closed source – but is it really so crazy to ask for a guarantee of eventual availability of source in the long run? How much would Dave’s business model change in the face of Larry’s proposed plan?

2002 August 20 links

(entry last updated: 2002-08-20 18:39:24)

The “discussion” between Dave Winer and Doc Searls of Larry Lessig’s OSCON challege is ongoing, and getting hotter. Here’s the state of play so far:

  1. Dave Winer’s Scripting News (SN):Lessig asks….
  2. Doc Searls’ Weblog (DS): Who does what
  3. SN: Scroll down to Doc steps in…
  4. DS: All the colors in the monochrome
  5. SN: Making money with weblogs
  6. DS: Finding agreement
  7. DS: (new) Re: Sunday, August 18, 2002 – note that Dave Winer gets into it here in the responses below
  8. SN: (new) Doc did a bit of investigation to… and the next paragraph.
  9. SN: Disucssion with David P. Reed

It’s clear that Larry got the rise he wanted; it’s less clear that this is a particularly productive discussion. Doc is trying, but Dave is insulted at being lumped in with the “Evil Empire” just because he sees merit in copyright protection for software. Once again, the dangerous conflation between “copyright” and “(intellectual) property” gets people at each other’s throats.

In other topics – is Declan McCullagh losing it? ZDNet’s publishing of the Reuters newswire article on the recent RIAA suit of ISPs gets some great TalkBacks. A Christian Science Monitor bit on digital copying makes me think of a couple of questions. Julie Hilden and Findlaw analyzes Berman-Coble.

And Slashdot has a discussion about the ISP blocking access to the RIAA for the good of its customers that I talked about yesterday. The state of Russia CD production, and that of law enforcement, is discussed.

(6 items listed below)

  • The Christian Science Monitor has a brief summary piece on the state of play in digital copying. It gets a certain amount of play at Slashdot. This article raises a simple question: where’s the evidence showing that this is a good idea? A bad idea? In my opinion, giving Hollywood what they want will guarantee the death of digital media (e.g., DAT), while the MPAA believes that this is good for them. Is that because they expect that digital media will let them expand their market? Or does it mean that they, too, are trying to kill off digital media so they can retain their current business model? Is there any evidence at all?
  • ZDNet is carrying the Reuters newswire article on the RIAA ISP suit. Read the Talkbacks – see what the readership thinks.
  • Cory Doctorow thinks that Declan missed the point in his recent opinion piece on the DMCA. Frankly, I agree with Cory, and that makes Declan 0-for-2 on recent opinion bits (c.f. this one).
  • Julie Hilden at Findlaw’s Writ writes about the threat of Berman-Coble, and the long row ahead of the copyright industries. Her ultimate conclusion is worth a couple of reads, starting as it does with the assumption that the (il)legality of digital sharing is settled.
  • Glenn Harlan Reynolds points to an article on copyright and its Constitutional limits from 2000.
  • The New York Times writes about the CD business in Russia: “Legal music is a niche market in Russia — it’s strange but true.”