August 30, 2002

2002 August 30 Links [7:47 am]

(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.

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August 29, 2002

2002 August 29 Links [11:02 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-29 11:02:13)

Prince jumps into the fray with this piece from the NPG WWW site.

Sorry about the paucity of postings - this has not been a good week.

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August 28, 2002

2002 August 28 Links [8:01 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-28 08:05:13)

Slashdot breaks the news that the MP3 codec is no longer free for open/free software products; the patent holders want $0.75 per player.

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August 27, 2002

2002 August 27 Links [5:29 pm]

(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…..

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August 26, 2002

2002 August 26 Links [7:37 am]

(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>

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August 23, 2002

2002 August 23 Links [7:50 am]

(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?

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August 22, 2002

2002 August 22 Links [7:43 am]

(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.

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  • 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.

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August 21, 2002

2002 August 21 Links [7:29 am]

(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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August 20, 2002

Comment on the Winer/Lessig Brouhaha [6:38 pm]

(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?

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2002 August 20 links [8:06 am]

(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.

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  • 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.”

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August 19, 2002

2002 August 19 Links [6:52 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-19 17:00:44)

I’ve been fuming all weekend since reading about the new tactic being tried by the record companies - forcing ISPs to block sites that offend the RIAA. I’m sure that there are lots of articles, but I needed to get Amy Harmon’s article from Saturday up ASAP. Illiad at UserFriendly, for example. Jonathan Zittrain and Ben Edelman’s research (a paper, a general article) takes on a heightened importance.

Update: Via Boing-Boing - an ISP has decided that, given that the RIAA is likely to hack their customers’ computers (c.f. Berman-Coble), the RIAA site will be blocked. From the announcement: "we feel the RIAA will abuse software vulerabilities in a client’s browser after the browser accesses its site, potentially allowing the RIAA to access and/or tamper with your data." Hah! However, once the message gets made and everyone gets their yucks, I hope they reverse the policy - it’s still evil to block like this.

A weblog discussion between Dave Winer and Doc Searls on the subject of Larry’s OSCON speech puts me back onto thinking about Charlie Nesson’s vision of creating v. consuming as the dominant Internet activity. Dan Gillmor has echoes of that discussion in his Sunday column,

Scott Adams takes up the Evan Brown case, sort of. The Boston Globe describes another copyright controversy brewing in the movie area.

Speaking of ILaw, Donna points out that Steve Levy was not just attending, but also collecting information for his current Newsweek article on blogging (see the third-to-last paragraph).

And, according to the BBC, I might be able to buy a DVD player with a clear conscience soon. But, The Register expresses my worst fears that I won’t be able to buy the computer I want by then. But John Perry Barlow is still a believer.

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  • The New York Times reports that the RIAA believes the DMCA gives them the power to control which sites anyone can access. And, given the deference the DMCA has received in the courts, they might win this one too!!

    On the other hand, Illiad believes that the RIAA has taken on more than they can chew, this time.

  • Judge Cooper has changed her mind, allowing users to enter the ReplayTV suit. An earlier article at CNet is also available. Slashdot has a discussion, as several of those allowed to join have been active Internet presences. Carrie Kirby’s write-up at SFGate is probably the most thorough.
  • Declan McCullagh argues that overly shrill complaints about the effects of the DMCA just undermine the argument over the very real problems with the law. Slashdot discusses: Debunking (some) DMCA Myths
  • A weblog discussion between Dave Winer and Doc Searls in the subject of Larry’s OSCON speech puts me back onto thinking about Charlie Nesson’s vision of creating v. consuming as the dominant Internet activity. See the cycle: Dave_1, Doc_1, Dave_2, now Doc_2. After reading these, I sent Dave an e-mail which included the following:

    However, it is also the case that Larry represents one particular extreme; one which the founding director of the Berkman Center has a different perspective on. Prof. Charles Nesson made a stab at presenting it at the Program, which went badly - he selected a poor strategy to get it across. But I think it’s a powerful set of ideas, and it’s one that suggests that you are doing more than just innovating without patenting.

    [editor's note: reading this, I see that I am putting words in Charlie's mouth here - he may not actually believe that Larry's argument is "elitist," but he does seem to believe that it's doomed to be pessimistic because he fails to consider creativity.]

    Charlie’s basic point is that the reason that Larry’s story is so pessimistic is that, in the end, it’s a somewhat elitist Weltanschaung - you need to be pretty clever and educated about the technology to understand the threats he sees. Otherwise, you have to take his word for it - not something that a Rep. Coble, for example, is going to do, even if he is sympathetic to your views.

    Therefore, Charlie believes that the effective response to the threat is to get more and more people involved in the Internet as a place for creativity. Each person who becomes invested in the Internet as a platform for creativity is a person who will react negatively to ANY challenge to their ability to be creative, whether or not they appreciate the subtleties of Lessig’s argument.

    Charlie sees the answer as resting with educating more people to use the Internet as a place to create, rather than as a place to consume. And, I would argue, weblogs are certainly a way to make that happen.

    To see my notes, etc. on the Nesson argument, see these links from my small weblog efforts for the class:

    http://msl1.mit.edu/furdlog/index.php?wl_mode=more&wl_eid=46

    http://msl1.mit.edu/furdlog/docs/2002_07_03.html

    So, I think you’re doing more than just not patenting, IMHO!

    I got an e-mail from Dave saying that this e-mail gave him some ideas for this "rant." And here’s the next one from Doc.

  • The Evan Brown case gets picked up at kuro5hin, and Scott Adams dances around it
  • P. J. Connolly rails against the DMCA, using the SnoSoft case as an example.
  • Hiawatha Bray writes about the host of companies (MovieShield, ClearPlay, TVGuardian, and Clean Flicks) that exist to excise, bleep and otherwise shield viewers from the seamier parts of modern movies.
  • Dan Gillmor’s Sunday column has some interesting things to say about consumers v. customers on the Internet, and the copyright lobby.
  • The New York Times profiles the rise and fall of the BackStreet Boys - a look at record industry practices.
  • The BBC writes that, in an age where almost all DVD players can be modified to become multi-region players, region encoding is on the way out. Slashdot is not as sure.
  • Andrew Orlowski goes into overdrive, giving voice to everything that I fear most about Palladium in this article: The Stuckist Net - what is your post-Palladium future? (I had to hunt to find out what he means. Here’s The Stuckist Manifesto, although this PDF from the Stuckist Party is a little more on point.)
  • It’s a slow download, but John Perry Barlow refuses to believe the copyright cartel has a chance. See Slouching Toward Hollywood

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August 16, 2002

2002 August 16 Links [9:28 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-16 17:14:16)

Bruce Schneier’s latest Cryptogram has a focus on Palladium; what it is, etc. The summary: lots to like, but lots to be terrified of as well.

In a lighter note, Donna Wentworth picks on the latest software patent insanity.

And, darker notes from The Register.

And after yesterday’s links on California bill 1246, I missed this Reuters bit (at the NYTimes) saying that it was withdrawn yesterday! (Here’s the Billboard article)

And we close with another demonstration of the conflict between rhetoric and reality.

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August 15, 2002

2002 August 15 Links [8:49 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-15 17:15:14)

Looks like the summer heat has slowed down more than just life in Cambridge. So far today, I’ve only found an article at FindLaw. And Joan Jett has decided to take “matters into her own hands” when it comes to her out-of-print material.

A look at the Billboard news reveals that the fight over the so called ‘Seven Year Statute’ has heated up. And, a GigaLaw article suggests that the theories underlying the Gator complaint will make Lynx illegal. Also, the Hamidi v.Intel lawsuit got some ink in the WSJ. Finally (I have to leave for the day), Slashdot discusses how the common man responds to DRM; a Larry Lessig interview at Darwin Magazine; and an article by David Weinberger on DRM, also at Darwin.

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  • FindLaw’s Writ has a guest column from someone who’s much more of an optimist than I. Peter Yu asserts that the fact that the copyright owners are fighting a multi-front war rather than focusing on pirates, they are bound to fail.

    I’m less sanguine. I think they have managed to make it a single front war - as far as they are concerned, everyone who opposes them is a pirate. And they’ve managed to convert a sizeable fraction of the population to their perspective.

  • Billboard reports that Joan Jett is putting her out-of-print albums up on the Internet. At $10 a pop, it’ll be interesting to see how she does. Her site is kind of funky, particularly the fact that she publishes her own tablatures.
  • The negotiations to settle on text for California state bill 1246 [PDF] (Recording Artists Coalition description) have fallen apart, leading to heated words. This is the statute that Courtney Love’s famous Manifesto addresses in part, although her legal challenge was overturned.
  • GigaLaw has an article, cited by PoliTech, dissecting the Gator lawsuit and speculating about its implications for the future of Internet advertising.
  • "Trespass to chattels" - a striking phrase I had never heard until ILaw 2002 - nor would I have understood the threat it represents in the digital age. Learn something about it in this article from The Wall Street Journal about Intel v. Ken Hamidi
  • Slashdot discusses a Q & A from The Guardian wherein a Windows Media Player user discovers that a hard disk reformat makes his restored files from a CD-R difficult (read: impossible) to play.
  • An interview with Larry Lessig in pure “Cassandra-mode” in Darwin Magazine
  • Also, a provocative piece on the how to solve the DRM mess: let the market do it within the following framework

    In lieu of a well-worked out program, here are Three Precepts of Digital Rights Management. Each rule supercedes the previous one.

    1. Companies that want to sell us works of creativity can do so with whatever enforceable licensing agreement they want.
    2. Fair use isn’t just protected but is expanded in the face of the new reality.
    3. The basic architecture of our computing and networking environment — which maximizes openness, connection and innovation — isn’t degraded.

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August 14, 2002

2002 August 14 Links [8:26 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-14 18:00:34)

So, we get some truly "Flash"y refutations of Declan’s position from Larry Lessig. And the Yankee Group predicts the future of P2P music sharing. With Dave Winer’s comments.

But something that really caught my eye was this article from today’s Boston Globe: Princeton says curiosity led to Yale files by Patrick Healy. This discussion of the penalties that Princeton plans to impose includes this extraordinary assertion:

In accessing the files of eight students who had applied to both schools, the officials yielded to human error, compounded by the temptations of the Internet, said Princeton’s president, Shirley M. Tilghman, as she described the results of the investigation at a news conference yesterday. (emphasis added)

"[T]emptations of the Internet?" What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Now, I am willing to admit that I may be getting a little paranoid here, but the continuing discussion of the power of rhetoric in the copyright debate has made me sensitive to some of the nuances in the general discussion of the Internet. As a result, this phrase jumped out, particularly in conjunction with the closing paragraph of this piece:

”One of the lessons of this experience is that even individuals with a high degree of sensitivity to ethical principles in traditional settings can fail to be equally sensitive when technology is involved, as when someone who would never open a sealed envelope addressed to another person enters a secured Web site,” Tilghman said.

"The technology made me do it" is going to be this person’s defense, supported by the institution that employs him? The idea that this updating of the "twinkie" defense is going to be employed is scary, in that it plays into what looks to be another dimension of the MPAA/RIAA rhetoric: the Internet is inherently lawless and unethical, so of course we are justified in taking whatever measures are necessary to clean the place up. And Declan’s position that one should just code more and more subversive stuff plays right into this perception.

Memes are scary things - once they take hold, there’s not much that can be done to displace them, except to start another, more compelling one. And, in America today, the "freedom" meme is not terribly robust.

(Note: Slate has a followup on the overall issue that makes a vitally important point that has not made the press, although it’s been a part of lunchtime discussion here at my lab.
Update: So does InfoWorld)

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August 13, 2002

2002 August 13 Links [8:29 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-13 16:29:51)

The Register really sticks it to Microsoft today - the Palladium spin has by-passed the employment side of the biz, it appears. Forrester Research has a mixed message for the RIAA. And Declan McCullagh would rather code than lobby.

And I really hate seeing Microsoft use the phrase "Software Choice." Cory Doctorow’s recent posting is Slashdotted, but you can read the comments at least.

The Norwegians want a techie judge for Jon Johansen. Wonder if it’ll make any difference?

And Salon has an illuminating article for your diversion: The media titans still don’t get it

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August 12, 2002

2002 August 12 Links [9:38 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-12 10:44:59)

Moving…. I hope I don’t have to do it again anytime soon!

Microsoft’s Software Choice gets dissected and responded to at The Register - and other inflammatory rhetoric there this week. Also, apparently the language in Alcatel’s employment contract gave them rights to ideas developed by an employee long before (12 years) he worked for them - a cautionary tale.

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August 9, 2002

2002 August 9 Links [8:43 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-09 17:43:52)

Back at the office after a day spent moving to our new house! The most peculiar thing is that I’m exhausted today, even though the movers did all the hard work.

A small plug & caveat: we had a great crew of movers from Gentle Giant - everything one could ever hope for in movers. The most notable feature - because the client pays by the hour, the crew is clearly trained to run when not carrying stuff - up and down stairs, into the truck, whatever - they are never idle.

On the other hand, the front office of Gentle Giant (the people you have to go through to get a crew) have some serious problems. I don’t know if it’s just that they may have terrible information management or that the people who work there are incompetent. Either way, the screw-ups getting to the move were huge and I place the blame entirely on the front office. Long story short: hire Gentle Giant for a move, but get everything in writing from the front office.

On to today’s links…..

The FCC action yesterday gets attention all over. Charlie Cooper’s piece at CNet on “free content” got me to hunt up an article from my original ESD.10 links page by Michael Kinsley that is a little eerie to read nowadays. And Sony has new DRM tech.

And Robert X. Cringeley’s The Pulpit column tells an optimistic story. The closing long paragraph inadvertantly explains why it’s never going to happen without some big changes..

(6 items listed below)

  • Declan McCullagh explains the mixed blessing of the FCC requirement that all TVs of a certain size have digital tuners. As someone who is only a marginal cable user (I actually rely mostly on broadcast TV), this sounds like a boom for me. On the other hand, by adding this functionality, we have a new place to install DRM technologies. The New York Times also has an article, as does Wired - although I would have expected a better article from Brad King..
  • Slashdot has a discussion for those of us getting ready to move to DVDs and want a hacked/hackable box.
  • Charlie Cooper asserts that it’s about time people starting paying for Internet content (ZDNet version w/ TalkBacks). Somehow, I still think Michael Kinsley’s perspective from this old Slate article makes more sense. And his tagline for the article is even a little chilling today: "So maybe the Internet’s first great cliché had it exactly backward: Information has been free all along. It’s the Internet that wants to enslave it."
  • The India Times has an article by an improbably-named author on the subject of video CD piracy.
  • Read the press release, then check out the Slashdot discussion of a Sony DRM technology called OpenMG X. Who makes these names up, anyway?
  • Robert Cringely sees the future of mesh computing much as described by Yochai Benkler at ILaw 2002, and then torpedoes this entire vision with this paragraph:

    Think of it this way. I just bought a “Lord of the Rings” DVD at Fry’s Electronics for $16.95. That $16.95 has to support not only the movie production, but also an immense manufacturing, distribution, and marketing organization that at the end of the day probably yields two dollars or less in pure profit to the intellectual property owner. So why not cut out that manufacturing, distribution, and marketing operation — and its associated administrative overhead — and instead just hurl a copy of the movie onto the Net, let it propagate as demand dictates, with that same two dollars making its way back to the film makers from every subsequent owner?

    I thought he understood this problem, but he’s speaking seriously here, as the next paragraph says:

    That’s where we are headed, to a system where Microsoft doesn’t control access to media as much as content controls its own use, and only the content creators get paid. And when it all comes together a decade from now, we’ll see that for the very reasons I just described it was inevitable.

    Without some kind of rein on the institutions of control who depend upon the existing distribution infrastructure for survival, this “inevitable” future will be easily avoided, I fear.

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August 7, 2002

2002 August 7 Links [9:59 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-07 17:36:38)

I missed a really detailed article in the Sunday NYTimes Magazine on the making of a pop music product - an excellent read. Salon has a discussion of the changes in the indie promotion business. And the broadcast flag gets a look from the TiVo/ReplayTV context

The new edition of firstmonday is up with an article on the politics of P2P and copyright. ZDnet provides a program identifying the players in tomorrow’s FCC meeting on broadcast protection. The Register reports that Morpheus’ client will include McAfee security tools.

And I thought my draft had something original to say. Reading these Slashdot comments, I guess not. Glenn Harlan Reynolds has a relevant piece at TCS, with an innovative interpretation of the Biden agenda.

(8 items listed below)

  • Who’s That Girl? follows the development of Amanda Latona as the next music product. A look at how it’s done.
  • The music industry’s response to rising radio promotion costs is covered by Eric Boehlert at Salon.
  • And the broadcast flag’s effect on DVRs is explored at Wired.
  • At firstmonday: Rip, Mix, Burn: The Politics of Peer-to-Peer and Copyright Law. This is an ambitious article that tries to place the current copyright arguments within a workable political context and, if I read it correctly, to elevate the arguments above the sanctimony that both sides bring to the debate. While it is an interesting set of insights into the evolution of the debate, the conclusions are spare, and seem largely focused on the desire to elevate legal debates above the focused procedural and legislative plane that they currently occupy. How to accomplish this, however, is not explored.
  • ZDNet’s Jim Hu gives us a detailed rundown of the players in advance of tomorrow’s FCC meeting to discuss broadcast protection. The CNet version of this article has a lot of relevant articles linked in the sidebar.
  • In Tipping Their Hand, Glenn Harlan Reynolds argues that all this DRM stuff is just the record companies trying to maintain control by locking others out. By getting the technology companies to require DRM-only players, they can force independents to work through record companies just to get a watermark that will make their MP3s playable - even if the independent just wants to give the content away!
  • McAfee’s SecurityCenter will be a part of the Morpheus client.
  • A new mod-chip for the X-box is getting some attention.

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August 6, 2002

Is DRM “Inevitable?” — DRAFT [9:57 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-06 18:09:16)

(I’m off to a meeting, so I need to add some links to this - but I wanted to get the draft up before I head out. Comments welcomed - today’s links are in the next entry)

(Sorry - that was rude to the RSS feed collectors - see more below)

The latest round of discussions at the Internet Law H2O/Rotisserie has revolved around Palladium as a topic, focusing on its implications for the Internet. As good listeners to what we learned at ILaw, the comments so far have centered on two themes: (1) Palladium/DRM represent a change in the architecture of the Internet in ways that may adversely effect creative work and (2) Palladium/DRM is inevitable.

I am not in disagreement with the first of these themes, but the assertion of the inevitability of Palladium/DRM bespeaks a set of assumptions that I believe should be exposed to some reconsideration.

As I understand the argument that is presented to defend the inevitability of Internet/computer DRM, the major providers of music and movie/video content will never make their content available over the Internet without the protections that a digital rights management regime provides. Valenti of the MPAA and Rosen of the RIAA have repeatedly asserted that, in the face of expected and rampant piracy, respectively, the Internet will not be embraced by the movie and music industry without the imposition of hardware and software restrictions that will guarantee their “property” rights.

OK- I can understand that position. Essentially, what they are saying is that, if they use the Internet to distribute content digitally, then they will lose control over that content, and it will be hard for them to make money. I can see how that would be the case. Litigation is expensive and time consuming, and the uncertainties will make it hard for them to raise the capital necessary to run an Internet distribution network.

But here’s the key question: So what? Last time I looked, there wasn’t anyone forcing the MPAA and the RIAA to use the Internet for distribution of their product. If they don’t want to participate, they certainly don’t have to. If they don’t want to put their content on the Internet, they can continue to run their businesses using their traditional distribution channels.

But that’s not what they want either! Like everyone else, they recognize that digital distribution is the key to reduced operating costs. The CD and the DVD show that they “get” digital distribution. The problem they face is that, on one hand, if they use the Internet to save on distribution costs, they run the risk of reduced profitability through the loss of control. On the other hand, if they eschew the Internet, then they run the risk of losing profits because of higher distribution costs — and, they also face the long-term risk that someone else will figure out how to profitably exploit the reduced distribution costs of the Internet, driving them out of business altogether.

A nasty quandry for them. So, the solution is to get us to pay to make the Internet safe for their business model by purchasing new hardware that limits our ability to use digital data. And, since there’s no value proposition for this, they elect to go outside the market and get these restrictions legislated.

Here’s a proposed analogy. Suppose there’s a standing lunchtime basketball game at the local gym. People show up, teams are picked, and games are played on a regular basis. The games get bigger, and start to attract some of the local talent. The level of play improves, players learn new skills and get more competitive. A cooperative community develops where everyone gets something - skills, exercise, outlets. Then, one day, a retired NBA player shows up and wants to play - he needs the exercise and his knees won’t let him play one-on-one anymore - he needs a team game. Everyone is thrilled - by playing with him, they will learn more, and he will get the standard benefits - exercise, team play, etc. But, after the first game, the retired pro argues that a lot of fouls went unpunished because the current system is based on players calling fouls on each other. He says that he won’t play any more games until a referee is brought in — at the expense of the other players. What happens?

Right - the retired pro goes home. The games go on as before.

And, as long as the RIAA and the MPAA want us to pay these egregious prices, in both dollars and freedom, for the referee, they can go play elsewhere as far as I’m concerned.

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2002 August 6 Links [7:58 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-06 18:31:09)

I have fallen a bit behind, I see. Moving is incredibly time consuming, and I lose my home broadband connection today for a while - so I have to steal what time I can during working hours.

As has been noted, HP has dropped their DMCA threat against SnoSoft. The latest security updates for Windows XP insist on the right to install software without the user’s knowledge - again. Bruce Sterling challenges the open source community.

Bruce Bollier’s article summarizing the key points of his book Silent Theft gets commentary. Tom Bell tries to challenge the “property” rhetoric at TechCentral Station.

Donna Wentworth points to a number of important links: Loyola at Los Angeles’ Eldred site; an interesting twist on copyright in Egypt; and Doc Searls’ puts in his thoughts on copyright rhetoric, too.

Ed Foster at InfoWorld has a question for Charles Sims.

And I’m trying to compose something that came out of the latest Rotisserie discussion at H2O…..

(10 items listed below)

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