December 27, 2002

2002 December 27 [10:48 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-27 10:48:32)

  • British Pathe posts newsreel materials without digital copy protection.

    Yet the success of Pathe’s simple strategy doesn’t surprise the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Cory Doctorow. “They’re treating their customers like customers, not criminals. It’s not surprising that they’re thriving,” he said.

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December 26, 2002

2002 December 26 [9:59 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-26 11:42:59)

  • Doc points to a good followup to the Norlin discussion. Plus these from JoHo - A (the Salon quote is right on - somebody’s channeling David Rees) and B

  • (I missed this when it came out in November!) Paul Boutin over at Slate seems to have taken up Declan McCullagh’s perspective: geeks need to get out of politics and just subvert via technology:

    The old saw that the Net routes around damage, including the political kind, has been around just long enough to be unfashionable. That doesn’t make it any less true. For all their complaining, the nerds are way ahead of slow-grinding legislators. The only way Washington can catch up is if the geeks stop to play politics.

    There’s just one problem: as the 2600 prosecutions have shown, geeks already have an image problem. Pursuing this strategy just makes it harder. Granted, the rhetorical battles do not favor the geek, but taking the approach Boutin suggests just makes things worse - real dialog has to happen. Not because geeks can’t out innovate; rather, because the typical sledgehammer approach government will take to "solve" the geek problem will just drive these vitally important innovators to other venues, crippling the economy that these regulators think they are defending.

  • I’m not really a big fan of Charlie Cooper over at CNet/ZDNet, but his PC Wish list commentary includes one vitally important desire, particularly as we face a new year of digital rights management PR:

    The end of the master-slave relationship

    Devices should be made subservient to their owners, not the other way around. The late (great) Michael Dertouzas, formerly director of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, told Scientific American that “we made a big mistake 300 years ago when we separated technology and humanism.” He was spot on. It’s about time to put the technology and humanism components back together. Why are we still stuck sitting in front of these dumb machines, staring at screens all day? Beats me; but it’s clear who’s in charge–and it ain’t us.

    However, the idea that it’s the computer that’s seizing control is nonsense - there’s always someone "behind the curtain," Dorothy. (related eWeek piece)

  • And, if you’re feeling strong, you can read this Slashdot discussion on MONO & .NET and the growing IP issues. Warning: lots of acronyms.

  • Pursuant to yesterday’s Washington Post piece on McCain at the helm of Commerce, there’s this article from Business Week (Slashdot discussion) on another set of media distribution - cable TV and recent changes in the rate structure that should allow consumers to purchase subscriptions on a per-channel basis.

  • OTOH, the change from Leahy to Hatch on the Judiciary Committee also gets a look from the Post - with Hatch identified as a strong DMCA proponent.

  • Slashdot posts an article based on a Washington Post report of the next angle on song sales - licensing ring tones. It’s not that new an idea - the Europeans and Asians have been doing this for some time - with the expected controversies

  • The New York Times profiles the top selling records of 2002 to identify something that is already becoming clear - the popstar cycle is coming to an end. Customers have figured out the current marketing game, and they’re not buying.

  • Jack Valenti sounds surprised in this LATimes article on the upsurge in movie attendance. Apparently, movie piracy didn’t have that much effect, while Internet ticket sales did…..

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December 25, 2002

2002 December 25 [7:44 pm]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-25 19:46:58)

  • I shouldn’t be here, and neither should you, but since you are, check out this article from the Washington Post (via Slashdot) discussing the implications of McCain vs. Hollings for IP

    Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) President Jack Valenti — one of the most vocal supporters of efforts to bolster copyright protection — said the Senate shift wouldn’t hurt that cause.

    “I don’t think it affects the debate at all. The change in chairmanship does not affect the need to protect creative works from piracy,” Valenti said.

    The ITAA’s Miller said the party swap could provide a small boon to opponents of the Hollings bill, but that its supporters still will push hard for it.

    “I never want to underestimate the (MPAA’s) ability to lobby these issues,” Miller said. “If Jack Valenti had been around at the time of Gutenberg he would have organized the monks to come and burn down the printing press.”

    McCain, however, remains the big question mark.

  • Otherwise, The Register puts its spin on the earlier posting stating that only Greece and Denmark met the EC copyright deadline.

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December 24, 2002

2002 December 24 [7:40 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-24 14:00:01)

  • Via PeerCast News: this great opinion piece from the Rocky Mountain News on where the music industry is going. Some great quotes:

    This year, many in the industry know the party is just about to end. A high-powered player in the music industry for the past quarter century recently remarked privately that “the music industry is over.”

    Not completely over, but certainly over as we know it.

    People are going to still listen to music and go to concerts, but everyone has finally realized - way too late - that the old way really isn’t going to work, no matter how hard the industry tries to resist change.

    …Downloading and CD burning has won. High ticket and CD prices have lost. By trying to maximize profits, the industry killed them.

  • Got an e-mail from Eric Norlin, who’s taken a look at some of the stuff I posted (via Doc, I expect). His latest posting on the topic of identity and commerce incorporates the thinking of a lot of others, but I’m pleased to be included <G> UPDATE: Doc Searls’ followup posting

  • Not that I’m really surprised, but it’s interesting that the LA Times was actually able to construct and publish this story on just how far the Bush Administration goes to ensure that none of their advisors might offer contrary advice.

  • The Register has an interesting article on WFMU, a non-profit (but not public) radio station in New Jersey. The article covers the strategies that this station is taking in the face of the CARP rulings on webcasting of music.

  • Ernie the Attorney discusses the copyright games around song lyrics, in response to Doc’s posting earlier, which included that great photoshopped picture.

  • Today’s Boston Globe has an article on GNU (local PDF). I know it’s just a sign of a slow news day, but it’s good to see ink devoted to these ideas.

  • On the other hand, the Sun/Microsoft ruling on Java is bound to get lots of ink, all over. The Boston Globe local PDF), SFGate (AP release), CNet, ZDNet, eWeek, Sun’s statement, LawMeme, New York Times, The Register, Slashdot, Wired News. Law.com takes the AP Wire report and gives it a great title: Want Java With That? Judge Gives Microsoft No Choice (More coming) (Surprise! Nothing in Slate as of 8:00AM today)

  • If you’re a Salon Premium subscriber, this rundown on the state of the music industry this year is well worth a look. Notable quote:

    Nothing for me, articulated the year’s tone of drawn-out disappointment more perfectly: Frivolity whilst waiting for the other shoe to drop. And for once in a good long while, that tone was not just a comment on the music industry itself — still stealing souls and now selling fewer $18.99 CDs than last year and continuing to blame it on the Internet — but rather, something that is in the air out there at this very moment, a bad-trip electrical current known not as War, but maybe worse, the Waiting for It.

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December 23, 2002

2002 December 23 [7:43 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-23 15:28:07)

  • Doc Searls notes that the debate on digitial identity and the nature of the Internet is getting testy. I haven’t had time to put any more thought into it than I put here, but I will pick up on one key point that Eric posts:

    Lastly (cuz I’ve been typing for 45mins), AKMA addresses the linking of commerce and reputation and how we should be careful about doing so. C’mon now people! This has been happening for decades — just ask Equifax and TRW. Individual “reputation” (in crude, blunt instrument form) is already foundational in commerce.

    In fact, that’s a little off - reputation is fundamental to commerce. Here’s a little thought experiment that Dave Noble (now a prof at York University - something of his from firstmonday) made us think about 20 years ago: “Suppose that you and I each have a good that the other wants, and that we agree that the exchange of these goods will make us both better off. Assuming that we are both rational, how can we accomplish this transaction?” If you think it through, you realize that the only way such transactions can take place is through the agency of something like reputation.

    Consider: there has to be some point in the transaction where one actor actually possesses BOTH resources. At that point, what keeps that actor from keeping them both? Only the realization that it is more important to maintain reputation than it is to achieve a one-time gain.

    Without something like reputation, transactions cannot take place, because without it, there is no rational reason that an actor will give up a resource in the expectation that the exchange will be completed.

  • Dan Gillmor’s Sunday column on Lik-Sang gets a Slashdot article

  • On a lighter note, Larry Lessig uncovers some distressing elements of his Eldred co-counsel Jonathan Zittrain’s past

  • Reuters has a news story pointing out that the deadline for passage of the EU Copyright Diretive has passed, with only Denmark and Greece enacting its provisions in local law. Telling quote:

    The industry lobbyists have not convinced politicians that technological stop-gaps such as rights management tools, which would ensure a copyright holder is compensated each time his song is downloaded onto a mobile phone or a computer hard drive, would work or are necessary.

  • The New York Times points out that much of the infrastructure necessary to achieve Total Information Awareness was put in place before the program was created.

  • The Times also covers the latest RIAA sales statistics. Overall, the industry is seeing further declines in CD sales, which they claim is all due to piracy, even though there are other hypotheses out there.

  • Lauren Weinstein has a commentary over at Wired on the impact of global jurisdiction applied to online publications. Kevin Werbach also has a piece on Open Spectrum

  • CNet has an interesting article looking at Adobe’s plans for the future of PDF and Microsoft’s tentative steps to get involved in one of the industry standards that isn’t beholding to them.

  • Declan McCullagh works through the provisions of the DMCA to examine what the consequences might be for journalists who are able to break the passwords of online documents.

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December 22, 2002

2002 December 22 [11:59 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-22 18:44:45)

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December 20, 2002

2002 December 20 [9:35 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-20 19:32:48)

  • Here we go again - MPAA suing 321 Studios. Here’s Dawn Chmielewski’s piece from SiliconValley.com. Slashdot reports a countersuit.

  • The Register has a great deconstruction of the Adobe public position on the ElcomSoft/Sklyarov case. Of course, we can hear direct from Dmitri in this CNet article (Slashdot discussion).

  • Donna points to an interview with Larry Lessig that’s fun - the recap of the Supreme experience paralleled my talk with Jonathan Zittrain a couple weeks ago.

  • Eric Norlin has prompted a set of online discussions around this set of ideas, wherein he argues that the Internet is a truly destructive/disruptive technology because it eliminates the economically important notion of scarcity, thus ruining the classic forms of business models.

    I would not pretend to be fully up to speed on this idea, but I would point to a couple of related concepts. First, it may be that the problem is the larger one of private property in this space. A key paper that Mike Pollitt uses in the course I work with him on at Cambridge University is the following - “Toward a Theory of Property Rights;” H. Demsetz; American Economic Review; V.57, N.2; pp. 347-359; 1967. Demsetz argues that property rights were created to simplify the process of exchange - property rights facilitate the lowering of transactions costs and are thus a net plus to an economy. Perhaps the Internet reduces the costs of many exchange transactions (particularly in the information domain) to the point that the efficiency afforded by property rights is no longer observed, so the notion of private property is no longer pertinent.

    Which brings me to the other point that I have been chewing on lately as I reread Marx to get a better handle on alienation - Marx’s historic materialism theory of history suggests that economic systems are maintained so long as they facilitate (or at least stay out of the way of) innovation. When the system impedes that progress, it will be subverted and supplanted. Marx uses this theory to explain the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Many have critiqued his example, but it may be that the Internet is affording us the opportunity to test Marx’s theory. Certainly, an argument can be made that many of the constructs of our current economic and legal system are limiting progress in this space today. The test will be to see if the current systems are resilient enough to endure (the current construction of copyright, for example?)

    Something to chew on, anyway (from JoHo the Blog)

  • So, nothing like this sort of article (LATimes via SFGate) to make you worry. Chasing it down, the Wired article suggests that, while some of the hurdles to deployment of HDTV may have been settled, the content providers still haven’t been heard from. The broadcast flag isn’t even mentioned……

  • Here’s a New York Times article to make you worry - the Bush Administration is proposing centralized Internet surveillance (BoinbBoing points to the draft report at the EPIC www site) - Slashdot discussion. As Wired pointed out, there are some local jusridictions aren’t going along with this. And the British aren’t exactly demonstrating that it’s that easy to make operational, either. This opinion piece from SFGate raises a lot of important issues.

  • A propos - today’s Ubersoft cartoon (part of an ongoing series).

  • Weird! MIT’s been cut off from the Internet since about 6:28AM today, which was when my httpd server got its last hit. I haven’t heard whether it’s an attack or we’re just having terrible router, etc problems. I can ping just about anywhere within MIT and the nameservers are working just fine (our usual problem), but MIT.EDU is a no-show - all 4 machines are off the network. NOT the level of service we’re used to here - it’ll be interesting to find out what has happened…….

    UPDATE: Back up at 9:40AM - still no news on what happened. Heading over to the Shifted Librarian, I see that Jenny gave me a plug - maybe MIT just couldn’t take the traffic?? <G>

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December 19, 2002

2002 December 19 [8:15 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-19 18:15:28)

  • EMI Australia announces (Official site statement and FAQ) that all the CDs they release next year will be copy protected.

    EMI's CopyProtected CD Logo

    The “mark of the beast”

  • Donna’s got a good list of DMCA commentaries, plus background for those who aren’t sure what precipitated their generation.

  • BoingBoing has posted Ken Hertz’s ACLU Bill of Rights Award speech. Subject: P2P file sharing and copyright. Well worth a read.

  • Donna mentioned this article from firstmoday a couple of days ago, but I only now got a chance to give it a look. It’s an articulation of some of the ideas that Charlie Nesson floated past us at ILaw this summer on converting consumers into creators (or blocking the process through technological alienation.) In the end, the article gets pretty far into learning and design, but Charlie’s thesis lies between the lines.

    A more troubling article seems to speak to Larry Lessig’s “code is law” thesis, but I’m unconvinced by the working metaphor. In the end, the notion that machine “make” decisions for us is just wrong - such machine behavior is designed in, consciously or otherwise, and to assert otherwise is an abdication of responsibility. But it’s an interesting read.

  • I wasted far too many hours yesterday setting up a new administrative computer for TPP that came with Windows XP. Why, oh why, does Microsoft insist on moving everything around in each new incarnation of their operating systems? (Actually, I’m sure it’s to maintain a steady cashflow in MSCE exams). Anyway, I now see that I need to disable WinAmp, since the RIAA may exploit this buffer overflow problem to take over the computer. Where do you want to go today? (Here’s the Wired News article.) Slashdot also has a lengthy writeup - with commentary from the community, of course.

  • SFGate has a nice article on the Elcomsoft verdict, with some new quotes around fair use and the jury’s response to the apparent lack thereof with the eBook. Dan Gillmor also has an opinion piece, musing on the subject of jury nullification (something I talked about a bit yesterday.) UPDATE: Wired points to this BusinessWeek article. UPDATE 2: This Law.com article has some new and interesting details. It probably is worth watching Judge Whyte’s document list to see when/if the text of the instructions can be found.

  • The recent series of Ubersoft comics has been good fun, sniping at the RIAA & the DMCA.

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December 18, 2002

2002 December 18 [9:05 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-19 09:22:44)

  • Check out LawMeme’s take on how the DVD content scramble system (CSS) should be an exempt technology (”access control device”) when it comes to DMCA protection.

  • Salon has an interesting article on the GNU Radio Project with a provocative thesis - bringing the Open Source ethic to radio might be a pre-emptive strike against legislative constraints on the modifiability of consumer hardware.

  • The Register also has an OS/2 obituary.

  • The ElcomSoft verdict will have many links today, I’m sure. Here’s LawMeme’s article and The Register piece. Donna points to a piece at the Volokh Conspiracy, as well as Lisa Rein’s complete coverage. She also points to two places in the Doc Searls weblog - (a) and (b)

    The New York Times piece takes the odd angle of suggesting that the inconsistencies in a global reach of US copyright law took a blow with the verdict, but I would disagree. The key quote in yesterday’s CNet/ZDNet report is

    Jury foreman Dennis Strader said the jurors agreed ElcomSoft’s product was illegal but acquitted the company because they believed the company didn’t mean to violate the law.

    This quote echoes the conclusions of Jessica Litman’s Digital Copyright - the law of “intellectual property” has become so arcane and complex, as a consequence of a long cycle of negotiations among selected publishers, that it is no longer meaningful to the layperson. This is not to say the the layman objects to the basic notion of copyright; rather, the layman is unable to reconcile the arcane strictures of current copyright law with his commonsense notion of what constitutes moral behavior when it comes to the treatment of creative work.

    In the digital age, where the barriers to entry have fallen and everyone can be a publisher, the complexities of these IP laws are being viewed by the public in the same fashion that the sodomy laws are seen - arcane remnants of another era, whose relevance is long gone. The jury clung to the word “willful” in the statute to excuse their nullification of the strictures of the DMCA. It will be interesting to see if there will be any further DMCA cases tried before juries.

    Wired finds at least some who think not, and Declan McCullagh points out that the higher standard required for criminal prosecution made all the difference. A purely civil complaint by Adobe would probably have been successful.

  • Slashdot adds a new wrinkle to the article posted yesterday on the subject of the RIAA going after retailers of pirated CDs - apparently some of the stores targeted sell *used* CDs, making this effort a potential attack on the first sale doctrine.

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December 17, 2002

2002 December 17 [7:49 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-17 16:46:02)

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December 16, 2002

2002 December 16 [7:48 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-16 17:17:14)

Who can figure out what Philips is up to with this product? Since they seem to have caved on the CD protection activity, is this software a way around, or a way to maintain, control?

CNet reports the close of the Jon Johnasen (of DeCSS) trial. (The ZDNet version has Talkbacks from the readers.) Slashdot had a report on Saturday with some information.

Lik Sang is back in the games (but not mod-chip) business in time for Christmas.

In case you were wondering about the director of Total Information Awareness, Wired tells you how to find out all you might want to start with.

Although the Australian libel ruling has gotten a lot of feathers ruffled, there are some contrary views.

Wired covers the pending release of some carefully crafted licenses from Creative Commons.

ZDNet has assembled all their ElcomSoft/Sklyarov articles into one place.

Last year the NYTimes Magazine gave a list of current ideas; this year’s list has a couple of notable memes from the past year:

The Times also profiles the record industry and its efforts to adapt to a changing environment. Of course, tha article also points out “But if record executives are singing a kinder, gentler tune, it is because, in effect, they have no choice.

Slashdot discusses Bandlink, a technology that purports to allow your computer to report on your CD playing if you listen using a machine on the network.

Robert X. Cringeley gives his thoughts about how the record industry ought to change, and why. He makes a good point that is frequently missed when talking about this (although see David Bowie’s piece):

So digital technology may ultimately mean bands have to make their money the old-fashioned way — by touring, selling out concerts, constantly writing new music, and ignoring the undercurrent of their older music being free. To those readers who decried my emphasis on rock music examples over classical or jazz, those two genres are already living in the future where musicians survive by performance rather than because they have a recording contract. If they had to rely solely on record sales, Branford Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma would starve.

EETimes reports that SmartCards seem to be the current consensus platform to “solve” the potential digital piracy problem for digital television. Slashdot discussses, including this link to an article from July and the resulting Slashdot discussion then

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December 15, 2002

2002 December 15 [11:47 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-15 15:26:31)

Now that I’ve had some time to read it, Tim O’Reilly’s latest on "piracy" raises some excellent issues.

(The hazards of falling behind…..)

The NYTimes Magazine makes a small contribution to cultural consciousness - song spoofing on P2P nets is cited and Overpeer is fingered as the lead - in the face of their uninformative WWW site, a little blog-based investigation fills in a few puzzle pieces. Check here for a few faces, or a Slashdot discussion

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December 13, 2002

2002 December 13 [7:21 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-13 07:22:21)

My wedding anniversary - and one of the "real" ones, in that it really also falls on a Friday this year!

End of term crunch, combined with other deadlines, has made this a busy week for me, with less than adequate time to keep up with goings-on in this area. (Interesting to note that, in spite of having left my formal student status behind almost 2 decades ago, my crunch-time calendar still matches that of the academic cycle).

Anyway, one of my recent delights was grading (*finally*) the short papers I assigned to ESD.10 on the block I taught this year on copyright and the impacts of P2P upon the policy issues arising from its development. The paper asked the students to cite examples of "architecture" (a la Lessig’s Code) and, as is so often the case with TPP students, I got to learn some new things - my favorite was a description of the fact that many public rest rooms in Europe have special lighting installed whose color is shifted toward the blue end of the spectrum. Why? Because it’s hard to see your veins, thus making it hard to inject drugs.

Sad to see the continuing decline of OS/2, in spite of IBM’s protestations that it will always be available.

Larry’s taking his e-Book discussion on the road - written up in CIO Magazine and commented upon on Slashdot - an Eldred recap, with a strong overtone of the implicit risks of marrying copyright to technological alienation.

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December 11, 2002

2002 December 11 [5:31 pm]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-11 17:45:32)

Whew! Made my deadline, so I can get back to catching up!.

Of course, the Elcomsoft case is underway; and I missed a NYTimes article on Ed Felten’s Fritz list. And it seems to be a big day in DVD piracy discussions - plus, Wired covers a Danish comany with some serious brass!

(6 items listed below)

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December 10, 2002

2002 December 10 [10:29 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-10 10:53:49)

A followup to yesterday’s PVR listing, this article from Salon. And the Two Towers can be had in China for $1; Slashdot discussion

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December 9, 2002

2002 December 9 [7:26 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-09 18:51:28)

Well, I’m back now (for a couple of weeks, anyway). Lots of catching up to do.

(3 items listed below)

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December 3, 2002

2002 December 3 [6:07 pm]

(entry last updated: 2002-12-03 19:48:24)

Ugh! I’m never taking that evening flight from Heathrow again - at least, not if I expect to be functional the next morning!

Digging out is not going to get completed before I leave town again tomorrow, so here are just a few items to ponder:

  • Infoworld summarizes the state of play in the current Shrman Networks copyright liability trial - do Morpheus, KaZaA etc. have “substantial noninfringing uses?” Here’s the News.com piece by John Borland. And CopyFight offers up some “live” coverage.

  • In fact, Donna’s doing a whole lot better keeping up with things after Thanksgiving than I am.

  • Meanwhile, Lisa Bowman describes day one of the ElcomSoft trial. Slashdot had a story yesterday.

  • Declan McCullagh describes the rising fortunes for the broadcast flag, with potential FCC approval of its inclusion in digital TV transmissions. The ZDNet version includes some comments from readers.

  • ZDNet UK is reporting that a Microsoft representative has stted that Palladium is going to be Microsoft’s proposed infrastructure for the next TCPA - v1.2. Up until now, it was assumed that Palladium was just a software infrastructure that would make use of TCPA hardware - if true, this changes the complexion of the Palladium debate completely. I would like to think the idea of a closed hardware architecture would be rejected by the same people who eschew Apples in spite of their acknowledged advantages in other respects, but it’s dangerous to predict mob behavior.

  • The author of a GrepLaw piece on lagom copyright got his story accepted on Slashdot. Although it is accompanied by the usual troll vitriol, there are some worthwhile comments there - a little more traffic there than GrepLaw.

  • Salon adds to our consideration of the costs of distribution in the non-digital work with this article on the costs of books, to go along with considerations of the costs of CDs.

  • My brother points out that, even though I mentioned this article in my November 29 entry, I failed to note that Furdlog is also mentioned in it - the perils of trying to stay on top of things using a microweight VAIO without having my reading glasses with me!
  • Piracy of export controlled software on the rise - Ed Felten points out that, as hard as the article tries, it’s NOT an Internet problem.

  • Ed also likes this article from the Yale Law Review on copyright and the First Amendment.

  • Will hip-hop be the same with digital turntables? And what did it take to get this piece of hardware past the RIAA copyright cops?

  • And, what are the odds that they’ll take that technology on befofe they target some REAL pirates?

  • And, the issues of Internet access in libraries continue to trouble everyone.

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