2002 November 6

(entry last updated: 2002-11-07 14:51:00)

Hoo-boy. Not the happiest morning for me, I’m afraid. OTOH, no more "Congressional obstruction" excuses anymore, either. Dave Winer says it best, as usual. Declan McCullagh gives us a look at how the Congressional committees are going to change (hint: Hollings is moving….)

BMG pushes on with corrupted CDs. Steve Gillmor recounts a distressing nightmare. And Disney’s claims on Winnie the Pooh get a LawMeme examination.

I ducked out of the ESD Visiting Committee events this evening so I could go to the Media Lab Communication Forum on copyright and culture with Siva Viadhyanathan and Jonathan Zittrain. Note that the audio of this session will be available at the link given. It was a lively discussion, albeit with a particularly different slant from those I have been to before. Siva and Jonathan articulated a series of arguments targeted at the position that the current copyright regimes are not only a threat to freedom and democratic ideals (what I think of as the Lessig arguments), but also a threat to culture, as “Title 17” copyright controls are applied to elements of reality, where other, normative controls actually make much more sense.

Two particular elements that struck me: (1) a discussion of compulsory licensing ultimately raised the specter of the complete commiditization (word?) of culture, leading to a world where the simple act of experiencing American culture will require micropayments in the Canadian model (I didn’t know that Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is owned and actively controlled by the King estate). and (2) Jonathan pointed out that, until an argument can be constructed that positively proves it, the value of the public domain remains only intuitively compelling (a rebuttable presumption?), not a defensible basis for action – an interesting set of economic issues. Given the arguments for innovation that have been floated, there may be an interesting basis for some cross-sectional innovation studies across the current varieties of copyright regimes – something to think about.

A great way to spend an evening, even though I personally was disappointed that NONE of the TPP students from ESD.10 came to hear the discussion.
UPDATE: I was mistaken; a couple of students were there! I apologize to those of you whom I have maligned here <G>

(7 items listed below)

  • The Register describes the BMG attitude on non-Redbook compliant CDs. A good rundown on the current industry players in this. Slashdot discussion; and the NYTimes has a Reuters newswire on Macrovision buying two other CD-corruption technology firms.
    UPDATE: A later Slashdot article cites a New Scientist article that says that CD copy protection is worthless. Ernest Miller’s LawMeme gives links to the formal paper.

  • Steve Gillmor dreams of a broad political mandate for the DRMocrats.

  • Ernest Miller explains how a careful reading of the CTEA nets Disney royalty-free use of Winnie the Pooh.

  • I find this stuff fascinating: the developing studies into the economies of online games. Here’s a Wired article, but Castronova’s papers are online too a, b.

    (Note: the links are directly from SSSN; something’s wrong with their server this AM)

  • Slashdot has a discussion of a next generation Gnutella P2P protocol. More enlightening is to read the discussions to see what else is going on (edonkey, etc.) in this space.

  • This has been floating around for a couple of days, but here’s a Wired News article on the pending New York City wireless revolution <G>

  • Declan McCullagh lists the changes in committees resulting from yesterday’s elections. Notable change: Hollings will be replaced with McCain at the chairman’s seat on the Commerce Committee.