2002 October 31

(entry last updated: 2002-10-31 12:04:44)

I love this concept – a truly clever marketing trick and a message all in one!

Sounds like at least some of the lobbying at the FCC is working out. Microsoft media technologies in a new venue. And our friends at the Berkman Center are keeping after the DMCA!

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2002 October 30

(entry last updated: 2002-10-30 16:57:20)

More on the modchip/DMCA conflict. A strange claim of the risks of GPL software in Australian jurisdictions, with a LawMeme commentary. The MPEG-4 saga continues. The Lessig blog discusses the ongoing question of spectrum policy and the pending FCC decisions – his posting is really just the tip of the iceberg..

And a Swedish company is ready to take intellectual property law to new levels.

A new webcaster alliance forms

(7 items listed below)

  • The Register updates the modchip legality issue with this article summarizing the current positions being taking in the Sony/Microsoft v. Lik Sang trial. A look at the “substantial non-infringing uses” defense of a new technology.

  • An inflammatory article asserts the existence of specific risks under Australian law of the GNU General Public License. LawMeme has a posting from Kim Weatherall, who begs to differ with many, but not all, of the points raised.

    And Dan Gilmore points out that there is a rising tide of opinion that says it’s worth the risks anyway.

  • CNet reports on the continuing efforts to reconcile patent licensing and market demand for the new MPEG-4 codec.

  • This has been kicking around for a day or so, but the Wired News piece is the first article that summarizes some of the underlying issues pretty well. Intentia has decided that Reuter’s efforts to find a publicly-accessible document “deep-linked” on the company’s website and the subsequent publication of the information (earnings) is a violation of hacking laws and intellectual property protections. Essentially, the reporter in question guessed a URL and found a report. Theft? Infringement? Whimpering? (You may want to check the GrepLaw posting for other articles)

  • Salon continues their series on Microsoft’s digital media ploy – Part 1; Part 2

  • For those of you who have seen Larry Lessig’s Eldred speech, but may not have actually read the rather grim Grimm’s Fairy Tales, National Geographic has set up a site for you. [from the Shifted Librarian]
  • The Register reports on the creation of a new webcaster association: the Webcasting Alliance

2002 October 29

(entry last updated: 2002-10-29 18:14:22)

More on the latest FreeNet release at Wired News. Microsoft’s strategies in the digital media delivery space gets a look at Salon. And, to follow the return of Kellner, we get a cable company looking to make it hard to figure out where the ads start and stop – kind of like MTV!

The Shifted Librarian is back on a roll! And Cory Doctorow points out a fascinating study on Internet architecture and policy.

A controversial position on IP in developing countries is taken in an outside commentary at ZDNet. And EMI is getting ready to watermark music to track illicit copying.

Meanwhile, the Artists Empowerment Coalition had a kickoff concert last night. Be sure to read the AEC positions – repeal of compulsory licensing is one!

And John Dvorak, in his own fashion, raises the question – when is stealing not stealing? – one might rephrase many of his examples as "when is property not property?" As we know, the answer is "when it’s intellectual property!"

(I said it below, but it bears repeating up here) Microsoft offers up its newest lesson in the exploitation of network effects for fun and profit.

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  • The new release of Freenet is discussed at Wired News, focusing upon the effect of a truly distributed P2P network on free speech.

  • Russell Pavlicek rehashes some old DMCA themes for those who missed them the first time around

  • Salon decribes what they characterize as the insidious push to dominate digital media delivery by you-know-who in this first of a two-part series – for those in ESD.10, think "architecture"

  • The New York Times describes one network’s efforts to foil ad-skipping – in a channel that sounds so boring, I cannot imagine who will watch it anyway.
  • And yet, convergence does bring us innovative products and services. I wonder what the IP implications of this one will be?

  • Another writeup on the Media Center PC over at SFGate gives a little more detail on the copy protection brouhaha lurking at the heart of this system.

  • And the NYTimes summarizes the latest product of the marriage between music and other media – the latest American Idol concert – this Salon article discusses the contract and other dimensions of this shift in music industry practices. Pursuant to this topic, you may wish to review the www information accompanying the excellent Frontline program "The Merchants of Cool"

  • Larry Lessig’s weblog has a discussion today about the relationship between term of intellectual property monopolies and the public domain. His overall discussion is a continuation of a longstanding discussion he is having with the online community about copyright term lengths and software – see the first several of these weblog entries for the start of the discussion.

  • Two interesting pieces from the Shifted Librarian:
  • I don’t know TMDenton, but this study Netheads vs. Bellheads is a fun read on the policy implications of the end-to-end architecture of the Internet.

  • Whatever else you want to say about Congress, this Slashdot article shows that they are true believers of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”

  • Ernest Miller over at LawMeme adds a little more information on the suit by 321 Studios asserting that DVD copying is covered under the doctrine of fair use.

  • A submitted commentary at ZDNet argues that the suggested weakening of intellectual property protections in developing countries suggested by the CIPR is the surest way to guarantee the worst-case Lessig architecture scenario.

  • CNet reports that EMI will use Audible Magic’s watermarking/fingerprinting technology to identify "their" music in files – the start of the creation of an audit trail for prosecution of individual file copiers?

  • Microsoft’s latest installment in "Exploitation of Network Effects for Fun and Profit"

  • And a new, doomed, Congressional actionCox-Wyden – "a joint resolution that seeks to assure that the fair use rights of individuals are not eroded in the digital world." And, shocker of shockers, Jack Valenti goes on the record to oppose it.

2002 October 28

(entry last updated: 2002-10-28 22:18:23)

More on the Oxford Union debate at The Register

There does seem to be life in the Freenet project after all. And, while it seems like just a rehash of the obvious, CNet also has an article from Wharton suggesting that online filesharing need not be as pernicious an influence as the industry would like to believe.

And innovation from the record industry?! A striking offer on the latest Tori Amos CD. And the New York Times profiles the rise of live albums in the face of radio consolidation and portable DAT recorders.

And Jamie Kellner’s back in the news. And kuro5hin adds to the TCPA/Palladium discussion….

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2002 October 25

(entry last updated: 2002-10-25 09:47:06)

Today’s Boston Globe has a couple of interesting insights into the modern music business. And apparently the RIAA is taking lessons from the BPA playbook – and they expect to build a constituency?

Wired News picks up on the New Democrat Coalition letter opposing the GPL. The NYTimes talks about the Google mess, and FCC regulatory change

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  • Steven Case, a once-major-label artist, is profiled in today’s Boston Globe, describing the life of the independent artist.

  • The Globe also has an article on Compass, a small record company known for its eclectic mix, including Kate Rusby, a personal favorite. A look at the alternatives to big label production economics.
  • I guess the RIAA and MPAA never met a constituency that they didn’t want to alienate. This week, Fortune 1000 companies.
  • Wired News has an article giving the members of the New Democrat Coalition a chance to tell us that they’re just misunderstood, rather than Microsoft shills. Suuuuure they are. Wired does talk to GPL supporters, of course.
  • The New York Times covers the Google site blocking issues raised yesterday.
  • An the Times also summarizes the questions around ultra wideband and spectrum allocation.

2002 October 24

(entry last updated: 2002-10-24 20:03:45)

Had a proposal to finish up this AM, so I’m running a little behind.

Ernest Miller has had an active morning, and critiques Prof. Hamilton’s take on the Supremes. I, however, enjoyed the title of the article on the global search for a safe haven for Sharman Networks – Next Stop, Kazaakhstan. He’s also found at least some of the New Democrat Coalition are not GPL-bashers.

And, after posting the Washington University site yesterday, I couldn’t pass this one up today, described in this Law.com article.

Update: Interesting to come back here and see that I’m apparently channeling Slashdot today.

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2002 October 23 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-10-23 19:41:55)

So, winter has begun, I guess – it hasn’t actually snowed in Cambridge (yet!), but it was sleeting when I walked from Au Bon Pain to my office this morning a little before 7:45 – *sigh*

The DDoS attack on the internet root servers is getting coverage several places, but I like The Register’s writeup best so far – particularly the speculation at the close of the article. I assume that the Slashdot discussion would also be worth checking out, but the site seems to be unavailable this AM. Ahh – it’s back now

Copyfight links to a funky site – the Washington University at St. Louis Supreme Court Forecasting Project, specifically, the Eldred v. Ashcroft predictions.

Along these lines, Aaron Swartz’s online transcript from the Eldred case now has a cover page of notes that is definitely worth reading – esp. this Globe and Mail article

Newsforge cites disturbing action by Congress-critters to suggest outlawing the GNU General Public License.

Attention! All TP5 students – the Oxford Union is hosting a debate Oct 24. The proposition: "This House believes that ‘the free music mentality is a threat to the future of music.’" Those speaking in favor of the proposition will include Hilary Rosen (CEO of the RIAA) and Jay Berman (President of the IFPI). (Update: Reading the details, it appears that you probably can’t get in; looks like you have to send your dinner fees ‘2 clear days’ in advance. But it may be worth checking into, since that’s only the official policy. Good luck!)

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2002 October 22

(entry last updated: 2002-10-22 18:33:58)

Via Copyfight, a look at Eric Eldred from Derry, NH.

More “rabble rousing,” this time around killing off telcos as quickly as possible. And Ernest Miller of LawMeme points to a Seth Finkelstein piece parallelling the language of 1984 with today’s language on digital rights management. Ernest Miller also has found an interesting New Republic article on the subject of Eldred and Rhenquist.

And a piece from ZDNet on XBox mod-chipping reinforces the fact that I need to get cracking on my alienation argument – a first, and quite limited, try is below – amplified in some important ways by the Stallman "treacherous computing" article that is getting some WWW attention today.

A colleague from the UK passes along this tidbit from one of his friends about Billy Bragg (note: the song is discussed at his site here)

Subject: Billy Bragg – Invite to Rip an Anti-War song


Legitimate free music!

On Friday 18th October 2002 I went to a concert by fellow Englishman Billy

Bragg at the Sommerville [sic] Theatre, Cambridge Massachusetts. It was the first

date of his US tour. ‘Concert’ is not quite right; concert, political

meeting and anti-war protest rally gets a little closer.

Towards the end of the evening he played a new song ‘The Price of Oil’ and

encouraged the audience to realise that many people were against a war

against Iraq. Finishing the song he asked who in the audience downloaded MP3

music from the Internet. Eventually a nervous young woman raised her hand.BB

then tossed her a CD saying;

“That song’s on an anti-war album that’s coming out a few months but by

then the war might have happened so I want this on the internet tonight”.

He span another dozen CDs of the song to various MP3ers in the audience,


“I’m serious about this. I don’t want these things sitting on your shelves,

I want ’em burned and I want the song on the internet tonight.”

In that spirit you can download the song yourself from:


I hope you like it. If you don’t but you still have concerns about the war

then take heart at the way that people are trying to make that case heard.

Please pass the location to whomever you wish. You might want to tell them

the story of why the song is available for free.

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  • The Chronicle of Higher Education puts a human face on Eric Eldred, while summarizing the copyright case.
  • A Slashdot discussion, on why the telephone companies need to die as soon as possible, points to an interesting WWW site, the Paradox of the Best Network. The sidebar listing of articles is well worth a perusal. Many are already listed in my links page, but I added David Reed’s paper today
  • Ernest Miller points us to Seth Finkelstein’s look at the Orwellian rhetoric of digital rights management. Donna helps to track the online discussion cycle around this meme.
  • Ernest has had a busy day! He points to a New Republic article on the Eldred case that is well worth reading; will Justice Rhenquist be exposed?
  • ZDNet reports that Ballmer is ready to pull the XBox from the Australian market in the event that the laws (or their interpretation) are not changed to reflect his perspective on copyright.

    This article is an explicit example of the issue that I’ve been trying to frame a writeup about – copyright is increasingly being enforced by exploiting the fact that the consumer is alienated from the process of converting the thing that they buy in the marketplace (e.g., CDs) into the experience that they actually bought the product to get. While you yourself can convert a book into the experience, you require a piece of technology (like a CD player) to convert a CD into music. Increasingly, we see copyright being defined as allowing the copyright holder to interfere in the process of this conversion by exploiting the technological alienation that enabled the copyright holder to make the sale in the first place.

    Here, Ballmer is saying that you really don’t own the XBox you bought, and that Microsoft, under copyright, has the right to limit what you can do with the piece of hardware that you exchanged your money for. This is a degree of control that is unachievable in the case of more conventional copyrighted works, like books, sheet music or graphic images. The question is whether this control is legitimately a part of the notions and policy objectives upon which copyright is built.

    In my opinion (sorry, I’m still working on this set of ideas <G>), this is NOT an appropriate extension of control, particularly since the consumer has to invest some of his/her own capital to enable the copyright holder to exploit the more economically efficient distribution mechanism that gives him access to this market. It seems to me that, if they don’t like the side effects of the distribution mechanism, they should not use it. But, what they are doing instead is to ask (demand?) that the notion of copyright be reshaped to allow them to change the nature of the consumer’s control over the devices that are used to convert the delivered object into the experience whose expression is the subject of copyright.

    However, as that rather tortuous sentence above demonstrates, I’m still working on this. But I do believe that, while alienation is necessary under copyright (a “fixed” expression), the copyright holders are trying to seize control, limiting their loss of control over their copyrighted expressions in ways that the consumer is NOT being compensated for.

    And that’s why they’re so mad! They aren’t arguing for the ability to be a thief; rather, they are arguing that they are losing control and getting inadequate compensation in return.

    (Addendum: Based on the press that Richard Stallman’s Newsforge piece gets in this Slashdot article, maybe I waited too long to get my ideas formulated – I’m just going to have to read it and find out.)

2002 October 21 Links

(entry last updated: 2002-10-21 19:41:58)

I see that I’ve been slandering Andrew Orlowski in my previous reaction to the article in The Register, when the real target (and article author) was Thomas C. Greene.

Slashdot takes up CD copy protection. A commentary at MP3.com should be of interest to the TP5/Network Distribution class – webcasting royalties as an entry barrier to music distribution. Droit moral (aka droit d’auteur) gets some discussion at Slashdot and Greplaw. And Lauren Weinstein criticises intellectual property as implemented today over at Wired News

Slate has an article on the complexities facing firms trying to advertise their products. And an article from the LATimes adds a new name to the list of people to worry about – Marybeth Peters. The New York Times reports on a Hobson’s choice facing the record industry.

And Jesse Helms is the webcaster savior?!?!

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  • A look at CD copy protection schemes is discussed at Slashdot.
  • Raising the Barriers to Entry (Slashdot commentary) suggests that all the webcasting royalty arguments are not about copyright, but about limiting access to the music distribution business. See the article at Billboard on the failure of Congress to pass the webcasting bill that was supposed to give small webcasters a break – according to the LATimes (reported in the Boston Globe), the recording companies gave them the break anyway over the weekend – sadly, I failed to capture the URl before it got expensive to find.. – Here’s the CNet News story, instead
  • Relating to the CleanFlicks issues, there’s a Slashdot discussion relating to a Greplaw posting on a Swedish lawsuit suggesting that broadcasting content with commercial breaks interferes with the artist’s vision, hence violating the droit d’auteur.

  • Lauren Weinstein writes about patents and IP in the US today, and the extent to which it is becoming counter to its original intent.
  • Cary Sherman of the RIAA unloads in response to an earlier ZDNet commentary that challenged the industry position on P2P. Ernest Miller‘s not going to let him get away with it.
  • Slate has an interesting article analyzing the latest Intel ads, which seem to promote CD piracy. Their earlier article on the Apple “Rip. Mix. Burn.” ad is also worth rereading.
  • The LATimes has an article (when this link expires, see the local PDF) on the Registrar of Copyright, and how she views the effect of "digital" upon user’s rights.
  • Billy Tauzin and Howard Leiberman are telling the record industry to put warnings on CDs before they’ll think about Internet piract legislation, according to the New York Times.
  • This needs more research, but according to Reuters and this Slashdot story, Jesse Helms is working to defend the small webcaster. I guess it’s so – here’s the CNet piece
  • For some fine-tuning of the Eldred arguments, see this Larry Lessig weblog posting. Also, FWIW, here’s the bootlegged Supreme Court Eldred transcript.
  • Finally, I figure I should post the overheads to the lectures that I was working on these last couple of weeks. (Actually, there’s one yet to come, but it’s for ESD.10). these lectures were for TP5, the distribution network economics class that I teach in Cambridge with Dr. Michael Pollitt. Those of you who have been reading this for a while have kept reading that I want to get around to writing about alienation and copyright – here’s a first look (albeit obscure, as it’s only overheads – I come back to alienation when I get to the 23rd slide – note that most of the technologies for “managing” copyright infringement interfere in the process whereby the acquired copyrighted object is converted back into an experience; a technologically alienated process, compared with reading a book for example – more work is still pending, of course!)