2003 February 11

(entry last updated: 2003-02-11 20:23:49)

  • To address something that came up at the Winer meeting at the HLS this evening, I offer the following:

  • Cory Doctorow announces the return of MusicBrainz. It sounds like the kind of application that everyone downloading digital music will be wanting to use; should be interesting to see what comes of it.

    The first version of MusicBrainz, which nears completion during the first quarter of 2003, focuses on creating an open database of basic music metadata which can be used for identifying audio CDs and digital audio tracks (MP3, Ogg/Vorbis , WAV, etc.). MusicBrainz is comprised of three separate components which all work together to enable users to semi-automatically identify music and apply clean metadata tags to their music collection….

  • A new data point to add to the considerations of the economics of publishing: publishing public domain books seems to be profitable if not lucrative – at least according to this NYTimes article. With a telling postscript:

    “The first thing you’d do in classics publishing was keep a list — a rolling schedule of what was going into the public domain,” Mr. Ebershoff said. “That was item No. 1. Now it’s not only not item No. 1; it’s not an item.”

  • A Copyfighter’s Musings points to and discusses this article on compulsory licensing of music

  • pressplay extends their music catalog.

  • Here we go – Microsoft is applying for patents (ZDnet nersion) on some .Net technologies. Wonder what this means for the Mono project.

  • Salon has an article covering the PATRIOT II bill brouhaha.

  • Much more interesting is this dissection/deconstruction of the criminalizing of encryption provisions in the draft legislation – from The Volokh Conspracy.

  • MSNBC has a Reuters story on the recording industry’s efforts to track online distribution – the Global Release Identifier (GRiD) (via the IFPI www site). The FAQ says what it is, a new code for identifying music in digital content, but the applications are a little cloudy. The Slashdot discussion tries to make sense (or an issue) out of this, but it looks more like another way to track inventory or distribution than any sort of way to combat piracy. OTOH, if we get a distribution network that works only in the presence of this datastream, then it becomes possible to track who’s listening to what, how often, etc. But that’s a LONG ways off at this point. Two talks that offer up some further insight are here and here

    (and, when I have more time, I need to revisit Rights.com, a firm that seems to consult in these topics.)

  • That may be it for today – especially since I need to make time to make sure I get to the Harvard Weblogs activity this evening – since I got this nice invitation <G>.

2003 February 10

(entry last updated: 2003-02-10 18:50:49)

  • Got an e-mail from Hylton, who’s removed a bit of fugitive code from the Corante weblog, apparently based upon my whining yesterday – thanks!!

  • Since that worked, maybe I should also ask the same question about Jenny Levine’s Shifted Librarian, which also displays this now defunct Corante behavior. It would be nice to see it go, particularly since she has a fun post today on Valenti and a possible library chair of the future.

  • Today’s Globe is running the Janis Ian op-ed piece that ran in the LATimes a week ago. The letters to the editor should be interesting.

  • Jack Balkin continues his speculation on the parallels between the “free culture” movement (with goals pursued via Eldred) and the gay rights movement whose goals were also pursued via Constitutional challenges. I can’t give you a link – something’s wrong at his end – but you can start at the current weblog and backtrack to the Feb 8 posting.
    (Update – Jack points out that eventually Blogger gets its ducks in a row and, sure enough, the entry has a working link now!)

    More importantly, Prof Balkin offers up a response to Larry’s original late night questionings in the wake of the Eldred decision (he updates them here in a less bleak form). Balkin’s argument is that, like it or not, Larry’s legal strategy failed because:

    [i]t did not sufficiently recognize that what lies behind constitutional law is constitutional politics. Conservative jurists on the Supreme Court offer arguments for limited federal power for largely symbolic and ideological reasons that are connected to the goals of the conservative social movements of the 1970’s and 1980’s. That is why those judges and Justices were put on the federal bench in the first place. Arguments for limited federal power allowed the conservative justices to strike down or limit the reach of federal laws– particularly federal civil rights laws– that they and other conservatives don’t particularly like. The argument for limited federal power also allowed the conservative Justices to strike a symbolic blow for state’s rights.

    The Copyright Term Extension Act does not fit into these categories. It does not symbolically trench upon interests of the states, and it is not a liberal civil rights measure. It was generally understood, for better or worse, as a protection of property rights, and many conservatives tend to think that protecting property rights is a good thing.

  • A Copyfighter’s Musings cites an AEI-Brookings posting of a paper by Mark Nadel: Questioning the Economic Justification for (and thus Constitutionality of) Copyright Law’s Prohibition Against Unauthorized Copying: §106. Something to download, read and cogitate upon, I expect. In particular, the claim that the benefits of these copying restrictions do not exceed their costs…

  • (Off topic) Tom Tomorrow has posted a transcript of a recent O’Reilly Factor program, during which an invited guest, the son of a 9/11 victim, disagrees with Mr. O’Reilly’s position. Stunning, yet not terribly surprising.

  • Salon has a lengthy article on the peculiar position of AOL/Time-Warner inthe P2P music issue – which side of the battle will they choose. With some interesting speculation on why Verizon rather than AOL was targeted for the first subpoena to get the name of a Kazaa-using subscriber. Then there’s this:

    “The ISPs get thousands of these things, and they get a not insignificant percent that are not just wrong but are spectacularly wrong,” says Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “And if the Verizon decision under 512h is upheld, we’ll start seeing the same thing for people’s identities, and they’re going to be wrong in the same percentage that they’re wrong now.” That’s because a key problem with the DMCA, critics of the law say, is that it provides little incentive for copyright owners to make sure that they’re providing the court with accurate claims. “They may as well make these things as broad as possible,” Cohn says. “There’s nothing in the system to make them do otherwise. It’s just takedown, takedown, takedown.”

    Critics of the Bates ruling also worry about intentionally fraudulent copyright claims making it through the system. If you have an entire legal apparatus devoted to “expeditiously” divulging people’s private information, there’s a chance that the system will become a target of people with something much more sinister than copyright enforcement in mind. “We have seen copyright laws abused by people who have other agendas,” Cohn says. “This is a method by which an angry ex-husband can locate an ex-wife, or a process by which stalkers can locate people.”

  • The Register summarizes their concerns about the proposed Patriot II Act

  • The MAD game in the P2P world gets a new candidate application: Locutus from the founder of FreeNet – a fully-encrypted P2P network basedon Microsoft’s .Net – Slashdot discussionpreview site

2003 February 9

(entry last updated: 2003-02-09 15:34:06)

  • Sarah Lai Strickland’s new weblog (what *is* it, by the way, with the "rateyourmusic.com" link in all these Corante weblogs that makes them so agonizingly slow to come up from time to time?!?!) is an excuse to look at an earlier piece of hers from the Seattle Times on the problems of the public domain – how to value it, what to do with it and just how difficult it is to discuss it in the face of ubiquitous copyright. The idea that something might be valuable without being owned remains troubling to many.

  • Cory Doctorow points to an article in The Guardian that shows what is happening when broadband provides are viewed as moving too slowly to connect parts of rural England – WiFi rollout by communities unwilling to put up with being treated like second-class citizens.

  • From A Copyfighter’s Musings, we have Responses to Valenti – Derek Slater has assembled comments on the Valenti interview that he worked on. (For completeness,the Slashdot discussion)

  • From yesterday’s NYTimes, a discussion of Sean Combs recording/production contract, and what it takes to get somewhere in the music industry today.

  • The New York Times also covers the business and occasionally worthwhile output of song-poems, and the search, as Arnold Kling might put it, for content among the cr*p.

    And the songs, or the overwhelming majority of them, go no further.

    Most deserve oblivion. They’re trite sentiments set to generic music. Yet precisely because song-poem hacks will sing absolutely anything, among the tens of thousands of song-poems recorded every year are a few so improbable, so skewed, so far beyond the imagination of more professional songwriters that they have a fractured charm all their own:

  • A little off-topic, the Times Magazine has James Gleick on the history and future of spam.

  • Declan reports on the RIAA response to the Verizon appeal.

    Matthew Oppenheim, a senior vice president at the RIAA , said in a conference call Friday that Verizon was exaggerating the privacy risks of complying with requests made under the DMCA. Verizon and its allies, including a former Clinton administration privacy official, have suggested that copyright holders should file a “John Doe” lawsuit to unmask suspected peer-to-peer infringers instead of wielding DMCA subpoenas.

  • The Boston Globe supports the Verizon position in this editorial:

    THE RECORDING Industry Association of America does not want to suggest that it will be suing millions of computer users for sharing music files over the Internet. But its power to have them subpoenaed, affirmed by a federal judge last month, raises grave privacy concerns and ought to be appealed, as Verizon Communications intends to do. The industry has a point that most file sharers are violating copyright law, costing it substantial business. The advent of file sharing has radically transformed the music business, however, and the industry cannot rely on legal action to quash technological advances.

    …Instead of forcing Internet service providers to reveal the names of file sharers, the industry ought to work with them to turn copyright violators into paying customers.

2003 February 7

(entry last updated: 2003-02-07 18:46:48)

  • Jack Balkin speculates on the parallels between Eldred and other issues taken to the Supreme Court to achieve major cultural shifts in advance of groundswell support – he parallels free culture with the gay rights movement. An interesting read.

  • Law.com reports on the Lexmark and Chamberlain DMCA cases. Ed Felten and Jessica Litman are quoted on the implications of these interpretations of the DMCA strictures on technological innovation and hardware compatibility.
    UPDATE: Ed Felten reports that Static Control has applied for a DMCA exception in their case.

  • I always brace myself before checking out the site, but today there’s a TCS opinion piece that I agree with – Sonia Arrison on the Verizon decision as a threat to privacy by overbroad copyright enforcement mechanisms.

  • The Boston Globe reports on an intriguing possibility: the radio behemoth Clear Channel selling CDs of live concerts 5 minutes after the close of the show. (Slashdot discussion)

  • Billboard reports that the band Incubus is suing to break their contract with Sony:

    “Under current standard industry practices, Sony Music has been handsomely rewarded financially during this period while the members of Incubus have received very little compensation from their creative and professional efforts,” Rennie said. The core question, he added, is whether Incubus “is entitled to share fairly in the fruits of their labor going forward.”

2003 February 6

(entry last updated: 2003-02-06 18:24:15)

  • CNet reports on Acacia Media Technologies’ (parent: Acacia Research Corp.) continuing efforts to collect licensing revenue from all sorts of businesses on patents they hold on transmitting compressed video and audio over the Internet. Slashdot’s story

  • A fun article in the NYTimes on using a GameBoy Advance to play MP3s – the SongPro. A look at invention, corporate IP protection and music. And, again, something from Larry Lessig’s arguments about innovation and threats – youth and the power of open standards.

  • Cory Doctorow points to Fred von Lohmann’s latest on what’s needed in a prosecution-proof (for now) P2P network.

  • I sure am glad that the federal courts decided there was no reason to work the Microsoft antitrust settlement harder – otherwise, we would be missing out on news stories like this! – The Register adds a few more details – and now Slashdot

  • CNet updates the DMCA-based lawsuit over toner replacement cartridges. (eWeek story)

  • Peter Coffee weighs in on the Verizon lawsuit

    When legislators make foolish laws, or courts enforce laws foolishly, they teach people to justify doing whatever they want. In particular, when teen-agers spend their formative years acquiring contempt for laws that are made by the ignorant at the behest of the selfish, I fear for the consequences when those young people become our next generation of leaders.

    That’s why the battle between the record industry and the rest of the world is more than just an example of a business that doesn’t understand its reason for being. And it’s also why we should wish Verizon well in its appeal of last month’s District Court ruling, which ordered that service provider to identify a user who may have engaged in file swapping.

    …As I noted late last month when discussing this issue with CBS News, Bach didn’t need a record contract—or royalties—to inspire him. He had a family to feed. The present-day business model of the record companies is a temporary artifact of a transitional stage in a developing technology.

2003 February 5

(entry last updated: 2003-02-05 19:10:14)

  • Siva Viadhyanathan has a discussion with a musician friend of his from Wonderlick on the future of music at his weblog for today. (Note: The actual URL for the entry is being served up incorrectly as his server as "text/plain" so I can’t really point you there without giving you the working weblog URL and a date reference. It looks like a Blogger configuration error, but I don’t know how to solve it.)

  • Cory Doctorow uses a neologism that I’d never seen before to discuss an article on the Disney-Milne Pooh copyright controversy.

  • Recall that last week there was an article stating that the new EU directions for the copyright directive looked less onerous that its counterparts in other parts of the world. Looks like someone noticed, and is making a stink about it.

  • The Register also updates the Microsoft/Sendo brouhaha. Cnet has the Reuters news wire.

  • Donna points to an interview with Jack Valenti, which is deconstructed by a fellow Berkmanite. UPDATE: Slashdot has a discussion going

  • Findlaw has an editorial arguing that the Eldred decision has implications for other equally contentious pieces of legislation – focusing on gun control.

  • The LATimes has a legislative review piece arguing that there will not be any action on copyright-related legislation this term, due to other more pressing concerns – oh, except for possibly something on the broadcast flag!

  • I am reminded (after a look for the link to the draft material from Terry Fisher‘s book for a student), that I was going to kick in some thoughts. Having read it through, I am (once again) left slackjawed at how he frames the discussion with his deconstruction of the response of his Brazilian audience to his question about P2P activity. However, I have been remiss in my homework, so I have not yet put my thoughts down – yet. But I will, Donna – soon, I hope!

2003 February 4

(entry last updated: 2003-02-04 19:43:34)

2003 February 3

(entry last updated: 2003-02-03 09:33:54)

  • Slashdot has an article inviting commentary on the Salon NARAS piece posted on Saturday, when we were all focused on other things.

  • Doc Searls points to a new Janis Ian op-ed in yesterday’s LATimes on the RIAA/Verizon fight.(Slashdot article)

    The Internet means exposure, and these days, unless you’re in the Top 40, you’re not getting on the radio. The Internet is the only outlet for many artists to be heard by an audience bigger than whoever shows up at a local coffeehouse. The Internet allows people like me to gain new fans; if only 10% of those downloading my music buy my records or come to my shows, I’ve just gained enough fans to fill Carnegie Hall twice over.

  • The NYTimes has an article on Sirius radio – digital radio by subscription.

  • Not sure how long it’ll be a free service, but check out BigChampagne which seems to chart song swapping on P2P networks in a fashion directly akin to the BillBoard charts. How they are related to slyck.com, which seems to track network usage, is not clear.

  • The release of the Microsoft DRM toolkit was greeted with some suspicion a couple of weeks ago; ZDNet looks at the current state of play (CNet version) after people have had a little more time to digest the implications of the offering. (In a related bit, ZDNet discusses the use of the Liberty Alliance tools, vs Microsoft’s Passport, for some web logins for some Wall Street businesses)

  • The Fake CNN WWW site has been shut down, according to Wired News.

  • Wired also has an interesting commentary by Lauren Weinstein that takes Michael Powell’s description of the TiVo as “God’s machine” as a jumping-off point.

    Broadcasters and their program suppliers have had almost total control over how we view their products since the dawn of TV. The real magic with TiVo and other PVRs isn’t the ability to skip commercials, but rather the unprecedented opportunity to wrest nearly absolute control over the time and manner in which programs will be viewed. Skipping or deleting commercials is but a cherry on the sundae.

    This level of consumer control is so new to users that it’s proven enormously difficult for the manufacturers of these systems to effectively market PVRs. Promoting these systems as digital VCRs is like describing a modern automobile as a horse and buggy without a horse — accurate, but utterly insufficient.

    A complete change in viewing behavior is implicit in the use of PVRs. That difference is especially scary to broadcasters, advertisers and those who have built their careers and livelihoods on maintaining the status quo.

2003 February 2

(entry last updated: 2003-02-02 16:03:02)