2003 January 31

(entry last updated: 2003-01-31 09:49:18)

2003 January 29

(entry last updated: 2003-01-29 15:13:16)

2003 January 28

(entry last updated: 2003-01-28 17:02:45)

  • Slashdot has a couple of tales to consider this afternoon:

  • Donna points us to a couple of resources on the post-Eldred copyright thinking process going on among the Berkmanites.

  • The discussion area that goes along with BoingBoing’s log entry for the recent Eldred-related Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon cites this earlier Ruben Bolling cartoon as a demonstration that he’s changes his tune? I don’t read it that way, but maybe I’m missing something. See, for example, this one that I cited earlier.

  • A rather intense article on digital radio from SFGate describes a number of interesting ways to use it, plus how to.

  • You may wonder why this BBSpot piece cracked me up so much – make sure to read to the end…..

  • One of the interesting sidelights of attending the Berkman Center’s ILaw program last year was listening to several of the law school faculty discuss (at the lunches, for example) strategies for attacking certain laws in court. You need a real conflict between an actor and the existing law, of course, but at least as important is making sure that your actor (soon to become either a plaintiff or a defendant) is sympathetic. Hence, dropping the 2600 case (a “hacker” magazine) or going with Eric Eldred. So, can KaZaa get away with their attempt to challenge the music industry’s use of copyright? Slashdot discussion

  • Looking at today’s Doonesbury, it’s not clear that he’s come to some new conclusions – however, it’s instructive to compare what Jimmy Thudpucker has to say with what David Bowie had to say last year:

    “I don’t even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I don’t think it’s going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way,” he said. “The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing.”

    “Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,” he added. “So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”

  • Egg On Face Department: Worm Hits Microsoft, Which Ignored Own Advice – Wired’s AP wire story

  • And a piece that brings back my days of supporting OS/2, although “astroturfing” in those days was a computer industry insider game, rather than a national political one: Editors and Lobbyists Wage High-Tech War Over Letters

  • And the Library of Congress is going to get to learn first hand about some of the issues raised in the Eldred briefs. This article, Effort to Protect Recordings Begins, describes their effort to preserve key elements of American culture and make digital copies of some great recordings (2002 registry), many of which (including, for example, the MArtin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech) are under copyright protection. The LOC gives links to the legal basis for their effort, and it may have elements that allow the LOC to skirt the copyright law – but Thomas is *really* slow this morning! – Here’s one interesting bit, though:

    Property of United States.–All copies of sound recordings on the National Recording Registry that are received by the Librarian under subsection (b) shall become the property of the United States Government, subject to the provisions of title 17, United States Code [ed., the current Copyright Law]

    Study and Report on Sound Recording Preservation and Restoration.–The Board shall conduct a study and issue a report on the following issues:…

    • 4) Current laws and restrictions regarding the use of archives of sound recordings, including recommendations for changes in such laws and restrictions to enable the Library of Congress and other nonprofit institutions in the field of sound recording preservation to make their collections available to researchers in a digital format.
    • (5) Copyright and other laws applicable to the preservation of sound recordings.

    I look forward to hearing what Jenny Levine might have to add to this!! – Here’s the Slashdot discussion

  • The New York Times also reports statistics showing that purchases of recorded video exceeded rentals last year, largely ascribed to DVDs and pricing.

  • Some blurbs from Billboard:

2003 January 27

(entry last updated: 2003-01-27 19:20:32)

2003 January 26

(entry last updated: 2003-01-26 11:55:08)

Good thing I came into the office to get some work done – looks like MIT’s gateway out into the rest of the Internet is dead – at least, as of 10:25AM *I* can’t get outside of MIT, and I see that no one has accessed this machine’s httpd since 4:00:34AM today.
UPDATE: – curiouser and curiouser – now I can get out of MIT, and I see that others have been able to get *in* througout – my little Apache “tail checker” was interrupted so I mistook my problems for yours.

Upon further reflection, I’m guessing that the MS SQL bug/worm must been at least a contributor, although I still don’t understand the asymmetries (I can’t get outside of MIT, but others can get in?).

2003 January 25

(entry last updated: 2003-01-25 20:26:21)

2003 January 24

(entry last updated: 2003-01-24 17:24:46)

Sorry – still no free source of the Ruben Bolling cartoon online – but here’s an older one that gave me a chuckle today and *is* available without a Salon subscription.

  • There’s an interview with Cory Doctorow at SFGate.

  • Wal-Mart distribution meets digital music distribution – the acquisition of LiquiAudio’s assets by WalMart could lead to some very interesting things. "Do you want a digital download with that?"

  • Looks like the Senate is at least willing to ask some questions about Total Information Awareness.

  • edited thumbnail graphic from wired article

    It’s been discussed before, but Wired has a pretty thorough look at The Civil War Inside Sony – and a fabulous graphic. The real powerful part of the article is the discussion of the threat that DRM brings into the picture – Sony having to fight to keep Microsoft off of their turf. (Slashdot discussion: Sony: Case of Right vs Left Hand)

  • My daily excursion into the shoals of Tech Central Station had its usual effect after reading this piece on what’s wrong with intellectual property and drug policy in the Third World. However, a review of the book The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy. describes an interesting point that bears considering. Although the author apparently describes knowledge as something concrete rather than a social construction, the author definitely views the communication of knowledge as a very important social construction – one that has had huge social and economic benefits.

    These feedback mechanisms were the most dramatic manifestation of a virtuous circle between knowledge and economic performance to that time, and similar virtuous circles have occurred repeatedly since industrialization, as technology has made communication easier and cheaper. Mokyr argues, correctly in my opinion, that knowledge itself is not a social construction, but the communication of it is.

    This may be an interesting framework to consider the policy objectives and implications of copyright……

  • Ed Foster’s Gripe Line column at InfoWorld this week (Don’t pass this along) looks at the dynamics of the Intuit TurboTax software protection scheme, the reactions of the consumers, and the agenda of the firm given the scheme’s features.

  • David Coursey is exercised over the MPAA’s opposition to ClearPlay and other mechanisms to “sanitize” or otherwise edit legally purchased movies – the perils of the “derivative work” clauses in the copyright act. Of course, Mr. Coursey has never been a stickler for consistency in his opinion pieces, but this one seems to have struck a chord, given the volume of comments in the TalkBack.

  • The Register puts in their $0.02 on the Alliance for Digital Progress. Slashdot’s article is up, too. Wired adds a little to the discussion, particularly with an odd list of likely affililate organizations. Read what Jack Valenti has to say in this Billboard article – nah, I’ll quote it here:

    “Consumers will be the beneficiaries of a digitally honest world,” Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement about the new lobbying organization. “We are not the enemy. We are not at war with the IT community. … I am shaking my head in wonderment at this million-dollar campaign to deride us.”

  • Today’s (yesterday’s) Ask Slashdot poses this question: How Much Does it Cost to Produce a Recording? – some personal experiences in addition to the typical pointers (Courtney Love’s piece, Steve Albini’s, etc.)

  • The Hilary Rosen sendoff in the NYTimes is nicer than many.

  • Wired has an article on the potential fallout of the Verizon ruling: ISPs: Ruling Bad for Subscribers

2003 January 23

(entry last updated: 2003-01-23 18:20:11)

Garry Trudeau’s still out, it appears: today’s comic and March 28, 2002’s

2003 January 22

(entry last updated: 2003-01-22 18:10:29)

Looks like it’s going to be a Verizon sort of day.

  • A weblog that I only visit on occasion has an entertaining take on the Rothstein article post-Eldred. It sort of challenges the “great (wo)man” hypothesis, but it also makes a couple of points worth consideration.

    We don’t know what innovations are being thwarted by corporate control over Mickey Mouse. We don’t need to. The point of having free markets rather than monopoly markets is that many heads are better than one. If Mickey is free of monopoly control someone, somewhere, will use this freedom to build a better mouse and offer it to the public.

  • From the Wired hardcopy mag: The Year The Music Dies – a recounting of the basic problems of the recording industry, showing that there have been failures on all sides, but the industry has foolishly failed to move with the times (or to move at all!). An nice, clean summary of the problem, with a kickoff quote from the late Timothy White of Billboard that’ll knock you down – you may want to read this piece by him on the industry’s digital failures or its followup on what they ought to be doing.

  • Cory Doctorow points out that the EFF is soliciting comments, experiences, etc. on DMCA section 1201 (anticircumvention) to be submitted to the Copyright Office. If you have an example of how anticircumvention effects you, here’s a chance to be heard.

  • A call for ethical programming from eWeek.

    The most intrusive provisions of the [PATRIOT Act] depend on IT systems and products that must be newly built or integrated from existing offerings, giving IT developers and service providers a special role to play in the defense of privacy. The IT community should refuse to cooperate beyond the strict letter of the law, and should take the government’s abusive course as a signal that private-sector practices should be designed to minimize the value of intrusive, unfounded inquiries.

    I can’t find the reference in ScriptingNews where Dave pointed out that there were things that ethical programmers wouldn’t do (in re Berman-Coble) – found it!: Hollywood wants the right to hack your computer. Here’s the part that I remembered:

    As a computer professional, I expressed my disgust. We have strong ethics in this business. We look out for less technical users, like this executive. At a technical level it’s impossible for software to tell the difference between a legal scan and one of questionable legality. Further, the question reveals an incredible and unrealistic selfishness, why should we allow him to hack our computers to protect his copyright? It would have been unethcial [sic] for me to say anything other than don’t under any circumstances do that, and that is what I said.

  • The NYTimes has a piece on P. Diddy and his efforts to shop his label around; a look at the business of music today.

  • Reports on the Verizon ruling yesterday:

    Does anyone else hear the dominoes falling? Note that the Verizon ruling draws upon one of the key rationales for the Eldred v Ashcroft decision of last week:

    As recently as last week, the Supreme Court reiterated that “we defer substantially to Congress” on copyright law, that “we are not at liberty to second-guess congressional determinations and policy judgments” regarding copyright issues, and that “it is generally for Congress, not the courts, to decide how best to pursue the Copyright Clause’s objectives.” Eldred v. Ashcroft, No. 01-618, slip op. at 14, 17, 22 (S.Ct. Jan 15, 2003) (citing Sony Corp., 464 U.S. at 429, and Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 230 (1990)).

    Notwithstanding these technological advancements, then, this Court will not attempt to re-balance the competing interests among service providers and copyright holders to address P2P software or “bots” that can roam the Internet detecting infringing material. As the Supreme Court stated in Fortnightly, “[t]hat job is for Congress.” 392 U.S. at 401. To date, Congress has spoken through the text, structure and purpose of the DMCA, under which, the Court concludes, RIAA’s subpoena to Verizon meets the requirements spelled out in subsection (h) and therefore is valid.

    If anything, another call to take the challenge to the Congress.

  • Bill Moyer’s NOW Transcript is online: Tollbooths on the Digital highway

  • In case anyone’s looking for a short desciption of what the Johansen/DeCSS case is about, Russell Pavlicek’s DVD fairy tale isn’t too bad a place to start – if for no other reason than the fact that he tries really hard to point out that DeCSS is not about copying DVDs

  • Hmmm – seems Garry Trudeau is on vacation, or he’s just happy to recycle some old material. Jan 21, 2003 and Jan 22, 2002 look a lot like March 26, 2002 and March 27, 2002

2003 January 21

(entry last updated: 2003-01-21 19:04:46)

  • Here’s a hoot – a technology that will identify a song upon hearing someone hum a few bars.

  • Verizon loses and has to disclose the name of the mystery KaZaA user. The opinion is online via the DC District Court Opinions WWW Page – Ed Felten’s had time to read it and gives his thoughts. LawMeme has also posted something. And here’s the Slashdot article

  • Something to drop into the mix: How to manage a dream factory from The Economist. A look at what seems to work (and doesn’t) in the entertainment industry today. Note particularly the discussion of EMI Music.

  • Of course, the alternative is to use the inconsistencies in the Eldred v. Ashcroft decision to take on the DMCA.

  • In all the hue and cry over the Eldred decision last week, I missed this article in the New York Times by Edward Rothstein (note that Larry has already commented on this in conjunction with a Doc Searls post at AOTC – also see LawMeme): The Owners of Culture vs. the Free Agents. It is important to read this critique of the Lessig position. It makes its points compellingly, and it shows that the current articulation of the problems that the present construction of copyright create is inadequate – this article is very possibly a roadmap to the flaws in that discussion. For example:

    It may be that one reason passions have flared so high is that a dominant style of popular culture in the 1990’s was pastiche, which is indeed hampered by copyright. But if cultural health were really affected by whether Mickey and his contemporaries were in the public domain, there may be other, more serious problems to consider first — like why a truly creative culture can’t find other ideas to work with.

    The unfortunate part of Larry’s and Doc’s postings are the fact that this is just restating an issue that has been kicked around for quite a while – how to reclaim the rhetorical high ground in this argument? (For example, look at this particularly egregious example from last year) The conflation of copyright with property has been cited as a problem for quite a while, yet we seem to have gotten no further in debunking the position.

    The only way to beat it is to find an example that will force everyone to agree that they are distinct – picking the example is hard, though. So far, the only one that I can come up with is for us to start arguing that, if it’s property, then either property taxes should be assessed or someone needs to argue why property taxes should not be paid – sort of a Chuck Rangel (D-NY) strategy.

    Donna’s added a few more links to the mix.

  • Findlaw’s Chris Sprigman weighs in on the Eldred decision. After recapping the standard set of complaints voiced by others, he closes with a claim that this decision is just one more demonstration (most notable in Bush v. Gore) that:

    [w]ith Eldred, the case that ours is an era of conservative judicial activism – in which law is trampled by conservative politics even on the Supreme Court – only gets stronger.

  • Business 2.0 has a piece on the “truce” declaration last week between some consumer electronics companies and the RIAA. After a lot of the usual stuff we’ve already read, a little light:

    The RIAA is perhaps more flexible now than it has ever been, and it’s time for technology companies to put the consumer experience ahead of the recording industry’s interests, once and for all.

    I’m not talking about condoning Kazaa and its ilk. Rather, I’m talking about creating digital rights management systems and payment models that are built with the consumer — not the recording industry — in mind.

  • Robbie Williams, European pop star has the following summary of online P2P filesharing:

    Singer Robbie Williams has said he believes music piracy is a “great” idea.

    … He said: “I think it’s great, really I do.

    “There is nothing anyone can do about it.

  • Another entrant into the fray between those who what to maintain the artistic purity of movies and those who want to be able to control what parts of a legally purchased DVD actually get through to the viewers – a look at a new DVD player proposed by ClearPlay Inc. and the legal fight – in SFGate. Stunning quote:

    “This is an abomination,” said Robert Giolito, general counsel for the Directors Guild of America. “I have more regard for music pirates. At least they respect the product.”

  • More on the Microsoft DRM package here at The Register. Some interesting information about the prevalence of WMA files in European music downloads. CNet also has an article based on the Reuters newswire. eWeek has picked up a BetaNews article on the subject as well that tells us that

    Sinead O’Connor’s new CD “Sean-Nós Nua” and Len Doolin’s “Once in a Lifetime” are the first albums to utilize a beta version of the Windows Media Data Session Toolkit. The technology has also been adopted by MPO, the world’s largest independent CD manufacturer.

    SFGate has an article that also discusses the Macrovision technology that was introduced the same day at the same event.

  • Not unexpectedly, the Jon Johansen verdict is going to be appealed. Slashdot discussion: “DVD-Jon” Faces Retrial. Wired news has the AP Wire report. The Register’s article is up.

  • Slashdot also discusses our friends north of the border (from whence comes the current bone-chilling cold here in Cambridge!). The loophole that allowed Canadians to put broadcast TV on the Internet has been closed, and the issue of media levies on all digital media (shades of DAT) remain a hot topic.

  • Last Sunday’s User Friendly points out that the power to shutdown P2P sharing is already in the hands of the RIAA.

  • CNet reports on the upcoming Digital Download Day, a followup to an earlier promotion to get people off the free download habit…. and into the pay download one instead. The NYTimes is carrying the Reuters newswire

  • In case you missed it: RIAA: Put ISPs on the hot seat – Ed Felthon’s interpretation