2003 June 23

(entry last updated: 2003-06-23 18:13:15)

  • Matt’s got a lengthy summary of the discussions around compulsory licensing around the web today, and other worthwhile points on copyright today.

  • Another great link from a blog doen’t need s clever name: Reforming copyright is a concern for everyone [alt URL] [pdf] discusses the Lucy Maud Montgomery Copyright Term Extension Act (see earlier Furdlog entry), but uses some great language echoing Charlie Nesson‘s counter to the Lessig argument (my notes from last year’s ILaw on this topic):

    Supporters and opponents of copyright reform paint very different pictures of the impact of the Internet and new technologies on copyright. […]

    While there are elements of truth in both of these positions, the emerging reality is that neither view reflects the Internet’s most significant impact — the blurring of the distinction between creators and users such that soon everyone will be both creators and users. The days of content creation resting solely with a select few movie studios, music promoters, and book publishers is long gone.

    In today’s Internet, we all access traditional content on mainstream media sites, but alongside those activities we increasingly craft emails, maintain blogs or other Websites dedicated to a dizzying array of topics, publish our digital photos, contribute to community chat rooms, opinion sites, or open source software initiatives, and share our attempts at music creation with the world. In short, we both consume content and create it.

    This new reality is spearheading a profound change in the world of copyright as the widespread realization that copyright matters grows. No longer an issue best left to lawyers, individuals are taking an interest in copyright policy as never before. This leaves policy makers with the challenge of balancing competing stakeholder interests in an environment where everyone believes that they too are stakeholders.

  • An article on fanfic from the Washington Post: Harry Potter and the Copyright Lawyer [pdf] [via a blog doesn’t need a clever name] – a reminder of where fiction and storytelling come from.

    The explosion of these part-original, part-borrowed works has set authors of fan fiction against some media companies in a battle to redefine the line between consumers’ right to “fair use” and copyright holders’ rights to control their intellectual property.

    “We don’t grow up hearing stories around the campfire anymore about cultural figures. Instead we get them from books, TV or movies, so the characters that today provide us a common language are corporate creatures,” said Rebecca Tushnet, an assistant professor of law at New York University who has written extensively on intellectual property.

    Fan-fiction creators say their work represents the emergence of an art form that takes advantage of all that the Internet was built for. They invoke the First Amendment and say that under fair-use laws they have a right to create what they want as long as they are not trying to profit at the expense of the original material. But some book, music and movie houses argue that fan fiction is more plagiarism than high art and have demanded that operators of Web sites remove the offending material.

  • So here we go with the hideous task of having filters in libraries: Effort to Equip Libraries With Internet Filters Is Allowed [pdf]

    (Wired News also has the AP Wire)

    A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that Congress can force the nation’s public libraries to equip computers with anti-pornography filters.

    The blocking technology, intended to keep smut from children, does not violate the First Amendment even though it shuts off some legitimate, informational Web sites, the court held.

    The 6-3 ruling reinstates a law that told libraries to install filters or surrender federal money. Four justices said the law was constitutional, and two others said it was allowable as long as libraries disable the filters for patrons who ask. The court described pornography in libraries as a serious problem.

    Supreme Court opinion: United States v. American Library Assn., Inc. – Jenny Levine’s weblog comments start here; here’s the Copyfight posting; and here’s Lisa Bowman’s take; Slashdot: US Supreme Court Upholds CIPA

  • The New York Times has an article on the changing role of stardom in the world of engineered entertainment culture: Major Stars Not So Crucial as Concept Trumps Celebrity [pdf] [infographic]. Granted, the title cites celebrity rather than artistic merit, but clearly the pressure is there to be an American Idol instead of a singer-songwriter. And the discussion of the changing balance of power in the movie industry is striking.

  • Larry Lessig gets some NYTimes ink in Congress Finds Rare Unity in Spam, to a Point [pdf]

    As with a variety of other technology debates about privacy and copyright, Congressional positions on spam have little to do with political ideology and turn more on interpreting the balance between the rights of consumers and the rights of the businesses that sell to them.

    “This hasn’t resonated with standard partisan positions,” said Lawrence Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford University. “It’s an advantage because I think something will happen. It’s a disadvantage because just anything will happen.”

  • A look at reputation on the Internet: More Companies Pay Heed to Their ‘Word of Mouse’ Reputation [pdf]. Slashdot: NYT On Online Reputations

  • The RIAA reports that an amicus brief has been filed in the Verizon case by the "’principal victims of the piracy "epidemic."’"

  • IDG has a little more on the Verizon DMCA subpoena fallout on the Hill: Senate committee to address ISP subpoenas. I especially like how the RIAA moves the goalposts here:

    “Nothing in this quasi-subpoena process prevents someone other than digital media owners — you could be a stalker, you could be a telemarketer or a spammer — from using this quasi-subpoena process to (gain information) on an Internet subscriber, including our children,” Brownback said. “I have no interest in us shielding those who have committed piracy. My concern … is the clear threat of unintended consequences.”

    The RIAA issued a written statement on Brownback’s remarks, saying it looks forward to a committee hearing about the “numerous reported security and privacy holes in peer-to-peer networks.” The RIAA noted that the federal judge in the Verizon case questioned how a peer-to-peer user could expect privacy when that person is opening his computer to permit others to download his files.

  • S-1046, the Preservation of Localism, Program Diversity, and Competition in Television Broadcast Service Act of 2003, cleared the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last week, as reported in this snotty article from The Register: Senate decries FCC big-media coup. Reportedly, Clear Channel is displeased.

    Clear Channel Cries Foul For Being Singled Out In Senate Bill

    “The Senate Commerce Committee decided to ignore the Constitution and the best interests of radio listeners across the country,” Clear Channel SVP/Government Affairs Andy Levin said after the committee approved a bill that will specifically require Clear Channel to divest stations. A provision of the bill would require the company to sell off stations anywhere it is over the legal limit, even though all of the company’s station acquisitions complied with FCC rules when the deals were done. “We are deeply disturbed that the committee would attempt to force companies to divest assets simply because it decides to change the rules in the middle of the game,” he said. “It is bad precedent and bad policy. This is an attempt to single out one company for being successful and punish them for playing by the rules. We certainly hope and expect the full Senate will reject this highly controversial and dangerous measure.”

    In other news, noises are being raised about Univision, too: As Univision Looks to Radio, a Debate Over How Big Is Too Big [pdf]

  • Here’s an offensive little opinion piece from Michael Kanellos: SCO: Darl-ing for dollars. While this article poses as a discussion of the SCO IP fight, he stoops to some rather nasty ad hominem rhetoric to make his point:

    But when you boil these arguments down, they all say the same thing: SCO is bad, and we are good. The attitude reflects what I like to call the Engineer’s Fatal Flaw: the belief that you passed physics, so you think you know everything.

    My college roommate in my sophomore year, an electrical engineering student named Mike Foster, helped me coin that one. He had an answer for everything, and often it involved the death penalty, a flat tax or some other clean, simple solution that would have been absolutely insane to try in real life.

    Don’t get me wrong. I stand in awe of people who can design transistors or even who can put up drywall. But there is arrogance inside the scientific mind, and it rarely knows when to stop. It’s no coincidence that Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter are the only engineers to ever sit in the White House.

    While I would be the first to agree that there are definite limits to engineering education that weakens engineers in policy discussions, I resent the implication that “the scientific mind” is the sole source of “simple, clean solutions” that are “insane to try” – with the current federal administration a case in point.

    And, in the end, that’s really the only point of the article – he acknowledges that the evidence of wrongdoing is not yet available (because SCO has been very coy), so all he really did with this piece was slam the community that I assume CNet News is hoping to attract. A peculiar strategy, I would say.

    (On the subject of SCO, see UserFriendly’s tribute to Gary Larson from Sunday)

  • CNet also discusses HR-2517, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2003: New bill injects FBI into P2P battle – the RIAA’s Cary Sherman’s thoughts on the bill – Slashdot: Piracy Deterrence and Education Act Introduced

  • Hiawatha Bray takes on Orrin Hatch in today’s Boston Globe: An antipiracy idea self-destructs [pdf]

    Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, made a rather spectacular fool of himself last week during a hearing on electronic data piracy. Too bad for Hatch, but good clean fun for any technology writer who enjoys asking the question: Can they do that?

    […] In short, you could manage to shut down a relative handful of machines this way, but not enough to matter. For real disruption, you’d need to embed your self-destruct system right in the computer’s hardware.

    Remember last year’s proposal by Senator Fritz Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina? He wanted to force computer makers to build in devices that would simply prevent privacy. It seems Hatch wants to go further – perhaps a dollop of plastic explosive glued to the motherboard?

    Wysopal says that such a computer, connected to the Internet, could indeed be remotely wrecked.

    ”The thing is, you’d have to make a law that would force people to buy that machine,” he said. ”No one in his right mind would buy a computer that someone could disable remotely over the Internet.”

    […] So in answer to our question – yes, you can do that. Next question: Why?

  • I didn’t get to post this earlier, but it’s worth a read: Among Film’s Ghosts, Its Future. [pdf] Karen’s got links the the Texas Instruments DLP site, which has some great Flash graphics showing how the technology works – micromachined silicon.

2003 June 22

(entry last updated: 2003-06-22 18:02:22)

My home machine has given up the ghost, so it’s laptop posting this weekend – without the mouse addon that I count on for making this easy. And it’s, once again, raining on a Cambridge weekend…

  • Some new legislation to consider: HR-2517Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2003 – just to give the FBI something to do with their free time, police P2P networks. Slashdot discussion: Bill Would Let FBI Police File-Sharing. Note that the discussion includes this response on the question of copyright legitimacy that is worth a gander.

    Why, exactly do you think that copyrights are *wrong*? I don’t mean the specifics — “xx years is too many, xx would be better”, “xxx company abuses it” — but why is the actual concept the use of an idea being controlled by the person who thought up the idea (and if anybody has a better def of copyright, feel free to tell me) not good?

    As a member of the faction of /. that thinks that IP as a government-sponsored institution should be abolished, I feel obligated to respond.

    Copyright isn’t wrong, per se. It’s flawed. It is based on the idea that any idea that can be had will only ever be had by one person, and then grants control of that idea to the one person that dreams it up for a limited period of time. While I don’t think ideas should be controlled, let’s take a look at whether or not the base idea is correct. […]

  • Slashdot also has a rundown on the latest in the Jesse Jordan story: RIAA Not Done With Jesse Sordan (Larry Lessig has posted something as well: the scapegoats

  • The Washington Post has an article suggesting that, maybe, just maybe, DeCSS isn’t the end of Western civilization: DVD-Piracy Paranoia Proves Counterproductive [pdf].

    In other words, this unauthorized, unlicensed software makes DVDs more valuable and useful to me.

    The DVD industry, however, sees things a little differently.

    “If enough people do . . . not buy licensed players, then the economic framework of the licensing framework goes down the drain,” said Robert Sugarman, a partner with Weil, Gotshal and Manges who represents the DVD Copy Control Association. His argument: Without the control over DVD playback that this licensing provides, the industry will see its profits nibbled away as people steal DVDs.

    […]

    But two things don’t quite make sense in the DVD association’s position.

    […] The second is the focus on DeCSS. You don’t need DeCSS to steal a DVD; you can create a “disc image,” an exact, bit-for-bit copy, and use that to make new copies. Furthermore, nobody seems to use DeCSS anymore. Current unlicensed playback software relies on a software library called “libdvdcss,” which was written mostly from scratch after the release of DeCSS. And the DVD copy association’s lawyers have yet to go after this code.

    Slashdot discussion: Legitimate uses for DeCSS

  • The Salon article that suggested that iTunes would be the death of innovation in music because of the pick and choose option has generated a lot of letters; and Billboard suggests that there are plenty of artists who won’t let it happen anyway: Top Artists Balking At A La Carte Downloads (Slashdot discussion: Artists Protesting Single-Song Downloads

2003 June 20

(entry last updated: 2003-06-20 08:42:39)

  • Donna’s got more on the Senate’s reactions to file sharing; this time it’s John McCain.

  • Radio & Records is trumpeting the results of a contract study asserting that downloading is the root of all the industry’s woes, as well as showing that the industry’s information campaigns are leading to more converts: Why Are Music Sales Falling? Downloading (alternative site). Conducted by Edison Media Research, this will the the third such National Record Buyers Study: NRBS 2 (summary)

  • It’s official, now: ‘Pirates’ told to pack it in – RIAA/RIAA warns individual swappers; now that the names have been handed over and action started, how long before the RIAA lawyers assert mootness in further appeals, regardless of the earlier claims – from this opinion (page 46):

    Verizon also contends that it will be irreparably harmed absent a stay because the revelation of its subscriber’s identity would moot the appeal and deprive Verizon of its statutory right to further judicial review. See Center for Int’l Envtl. Law v. Office of U.S. Trade Rep., 240 F. Supp. 2d 21, 22-23 (D.D.C. 2003) (“defendants have made a strong showing of irreparable harm because disclosure of the documents in question will render any appeal moot”); Center for Nat’l Security Studies v. United States Dep’t of Justice, 217 F. Supp. 2d 58, 58 (D.D.C. 2002) (granting stay of disclosure order in FOIA case where compliance with order “would effectively moot any appeal”). RIAA counters that effective relief could still be granted and that the case falls within the “capable of repetition yet evading review” exception to mootness. RIAA has stated, moreover, that it will not argue mootness on appeal. Hearing Tr., Mot. to Stay, 02-MS-0323 (Feb. 13, 2003), at 44.

  • An interview with RealNetworks’ Rob Glaser on their online music business: The Sound of Stolen Thunder

  • A Slashdot report makes some interesting allegations: Senator Orrin Hatch a Pirate? based on the Wired News report, Orrin Hatch: Software Pirate? where we find:

    The senator’s site makes extensive use of a JavaScript menu system developed by Milonic Solutions, a software company based in the United Kingdom. The copyright-protected code has not been licensed for use on Hatch’s website.

    “It’s an unlicensed copy,” said Andy Woolley, who runs Milonic. “It’s very unfortunate for him because of those comments he made.”

    […] However, by Thursday afternoon Hatch’s site had been updated to contain some of the requisite copyright information. An old version of the page can be seen by viewing Google’s cache of the site.

    “They’re using our code,” Woolley said Wednesday. “We’ve had no contact with them. They are in breach of our licensing terms.”

  • From today’s USA Today on the influence of fans on The Hulk: Fans have the muscle to shape the movie [pdf]

    “I used to hate the Internet,” [Marvel studios chief Avi] Arad says. “I thought it was just a place where people stole our products. But I see how influential these fans can be when they build a consensus, which is what we seek. I now consider them filmmaking partners.”

    […] Analysts say a handful of self-professed film geeks not only influence how well a movie does; some also affect the way the films are made. Liv Tyler’s character was cut from a scene in the second Lord of the Rings after thousands of online fans protested the original script, which had her character appearing in a battle that she was not part of in the books.

    And when Arad decided to give last year’s Spider-Man organic web shooters instead of the man-made devices his alter-ego, Peter Parker, used in the comic book, he had to plead his case to the Internet community to stop a revolt.

2003 June 19

(entry last updated: 2003-06-19 06:53:42)

I’m back! What a terrible thing moving an office is.

  • I see that Sen. Hatch has retreated…slightly: Senator OK with zapping pirates’ PCs

    But Hatch noted that his proposed law permitting wide-scale destruction of computers used to download illicit files from peer-to-peer networks was still on the table. “I do not favor extreme remedies–unless no moderate remedies can be found,” Hatch said in the statement.

2003 June 18

(entry last updated: 2003-06-18 10:28:20)

Just a reminder: msl1.mit.edu is being physically relocated this afternoon, so Furdlog will be offline starting around 1:00PM and won’t be back until the nameservers pick up the new IP address that goes along with relocation – probably Thursday AM.

And I forgot to mention: I had a great evening yesterday getting together with Matt and Donna to talk weblogs, IP and future plans. Karen, who’s just getting started, had a great time, too. We got to hang out at one of my perennial dining establishments and the home to my favorite mole poblano outside of Monterrey: Casa Mexico.

  • Via a blog doesn’t need a clever name: V2V, a Video Sharing Syndicate Conspiracy

    THERE’S NO REASON TO BE OPTIMISTIC

    Technological innovation came along with new regimes of restricting the use

    of media and rebinds the liberating potential to ever more advanced systems

    of command and control. Technological change is always accompanied by great

    enthusiasm and new esthetical paradigms that in the last instance reinvent

    the wheels to carry forward the same old industries.

    […] We believe in images with open sources: Reaccessing the cinematic heritage

    of other generations, broadcasting the general intellect, empowering

    collective story-telling, changing the views, fast sharing of content, skills

    and resources, enabling multiple connections between creative nodes and networks.

    Production and distribution will finally merge into a process of sharing

    your images with others.

    Virtual images that everyone can edit, change, forward, rewind and PLAY.

  • From today’s Onion What Do You Think? interviews: FCC Media Deregulation

    Yeah? Well, if this

    is such a big problem,

    why aren’t we hearing

    more about it on the news?

    Mitch Ahearn

    Auto Mechanic

  • Mary Hodder takes Larry to task on something he glibly said in his response to the Rimmer article. She’s right, too – while the cultural artifacts in the public domain are at least 75 years old, it would be really hard to defend the argument that it’s irrelevant to current culture (luckily, Larry does say "much of current culture") Writing off the great literature, music and art of more than 75 years as largely irrelevant to our culture is a bit of an overstatement, I would say.

    The operational distinctions between irrelevance and invisibility are hard to perceive when you’re trying to develop a political movement. But irrelevance means that the movement will never take off, while invisibility means, as Mary points out, that there’s hope for as long as people are still willing to think and learn.

  • Also from Salon, yesterday’s Farhad Manjoo piece: Can anyone stop the music cops? – a discussion of a proposed piece of legislation known as the Brownback Bill that’s apparently making the rounds – Salon’s copy is here

    The draft prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from requiring tech companies to include DRM technology in their devices; for example, if the bill becomes law the FCC would not be able to force electronics manufacturers to make CD players that play only copy-protected CDs.

    The provision seems to be a direct response to the efforts of Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, the South Carolina Democrat who attempted, last year, to mandate tech companies to produce devices that obey DRM schemes; Hollings’ bill delighted the entertainment industry, but it didn’t get very far in Congress.

    The Brownback proposal also requires all copy-protected products — for instance, CDs, DVDs, e-books or digital songs bought from the Apple Music Store — to be clearly labeled with their restrictions. Finally, the proposal would prohibit copyright holders from easily getting the names and addresses of people they suspect of copyright infringement on the Internet — this is the section of the bill that Verizon is most interested in. If the bill becomes law, content owners would be required to first file a civil lawsuit against an anonymous alleged digital thief; only if a judge decides the case has merit will the Internet user be identified.

  • A contrarian take on iTunes from Salon: iTunes — the "i" doesn’t stand for innovation

    I bought Tool’s most recent album, “Lateralus,” because I couldn’t get the harsh yet slightly ethereal guitar of “Schism” out of my head. The repetition of its play on a hard-rock station, like the repetition of the final guitar segment, had me whipped. After listening to the song over and over, I turned to the other tunes on the album where, I discovered, the real integrity and uniqueness of Tool’s artistry resided. In the end, my favorite song on the album, and perhaps the best by any measure, is a track I have never heard on the radio.

    Sound familiar? How many times have you bought a band’s album for an overplayed song, only to discover that the more gratifying tunes are the ones you’ve never heard before? But now that iTunes and other online music vendors have finally arrived, don’t expect to experience that same epiphany in the future. iTunes is helping to usher in an era where songs are sold individually, thus putting an end to what I call “bundled innovations.”

    This is an echo of the argument that, with internet news services, people will actually be less informed because their ability to direct their news services means that they will miss reading things that they didn’t expect to want to read. While I agree that it’s a problem, it’s also the case that people have found other mechanisms to ensure that they get a reasonable exposure to what’s going on.

    In fact, one might even argue that P2P sharing has to become the advertising/promotional side of the iTunes-inspired record company of the future. After all, once Clear Channel buys up the last radio station, how else will there be a market for anything but songs on the charts?

  • CNet reports on some recorganization at a leading DRM vendor: Macrovision splits into two units

    The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company on Tuesday said the Entertainment Technologies Group will include video and music technology and the part of its consumer software division that handles its SafeDisc protection technology. The company’s Software Technologies Group will comprise its enterprise software division and SafeCast protection technology.

    Macrovision, which makes copy-protection software, said it decided to reorganize because entertainment and software companies have different protection needs.

    This is actually a quite interesting claim, that software and entertainment have "different protection needs." I’m going to have to give that some thought….

  • Think someone explained "conflict of interest" to Mary Bono? Lawmaker downplays RIAA job rumors

  • To read Sen. Hatch’s published statement from yesterday’s hearings (rescheduled) you wouldn’t expect to get this Slashdot story, Sen Hatch Would Like To Destroy Filetraders’ PCs, but the AP Wire piece cited [pdf] does in fact say the following:

    The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (news – web sites) said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

    The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music downloads.

    During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.

    […] “If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we’d be interested in hearing about that,” Hatch said. “If that’s the only way, then I’m all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize” the seriousness of their actions, he said.

    “There’s no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws,” Hatch said.

    The New York Times has a variant: Senator Takes Aim at Illegal Downloads [pdf]

    Illegally download copyright music from the Internet once, or even twice, and you get a warning. Do it a third time, and your computer gets destroyed.

    That’s the suggestion made by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a Tuesday hearing on copyright abuse, reflecting a growing frustration in Congress over failure of the technology and entertainment industries to protect copyrights in a digital age.

    Is somebody not getting his way? Sounds like somebody needs a nap — or maybe needs to wake up! I’m sure there will be more about this as the day develops….

    Update: Dave Winer does the correct thing and links to the BBC article: Destroy ‘pirate’ PCs, says politician

    Donna’s got links to a class going on at Harvard now that’s generating followup discussion of this topic: Hatching a Plan to Tame P2P

  • Saw this on the front page of the Financial Times, but it’s not yet hit the US press apparently: Microsoft takes 15 spammers to court:

    Fifteen complaints were filed in the U.S. and U.K. against alleged spammers said to have sent out more than 2 billion e-mails. Microsoft held press conferences on both sides of the Atlantic to promote its campaign against “flooding Microsoft’s customers and its systems” with spam.

    Wired has the Reuters newswire: Microsoft Ups Ante in Spam Fight; NYTimes: Microsoft Sues 15 Organizations in Broad Attack on Spam E-Mail [pdf]

2003 June 17

(entry last updated: 2003-06-17 13:34:45)

  • Speaking of copyright terms, here’s the final report submitted in March on C-36 (see Amendments to the Copyright Act), the Lucy Maude Montgomery Copyright Term Extension Act (she authored Anne of Green Gables and her unpublished diaries would enter the public domain next year; see also the article in the Gowlings IP Report) [via FOS News] – there’s something over at Volokh, too – Larry Lessig notes that at least some of this act has been curbed: people having an effect

  • Something to remind me of what I learned reading The Audible Past about sound recording and how the intention(s) behind it evolve in culture and art: The Beatles’ Producer, Still With Stories to Tell [pdf]

    “When I joined EMI,” he [Sir George Martin] said, “the criterion by which recordings were judged was their faithfulness to the original. If you made a recording that was so good that you couldn’t tell the difference between the recording and the actual performance, that was the acme. And I questioned that. I thought, O.K., we’re all taking photographs of an existing event. But we don’t have to make a photograph; we can paint. And that prompted me to experiment.”

  • The online discussion of this seemed like just a nasty joke, but it’s now reached the AP Wire: Mary Bono’s Raring to Run RIAA. At least the article points out the potential pitfalls associated with her choice to be part of a piracy & IP caucus while essentially running for the RIAA position – and just how many of the Sonny Bono copyrights did she inherit?

  • From firstMonday: The dead poets society: The copyright term and the public domain by Matthew Rimmer

    This paper extends the approach of analysing the cultural politics of copyright disputes elaborated in an earlier article [16]. It looks at the intersection of power, culture, and technology. As James Boyle observes, there is a need to focus upon the politics of intellectual property:

    “Like most property regimes, our intellectual property regime will be contentious, in distributional, ideological and efficiency terms. It will have effects on market power, economic concentration and social structure. Yet, right now, we have no politics of intellectual property – in the way that we have a politics of the environment or of tax reform. We lack a conceptual map of issues, a rough working model of costs and benefits and a functioning coalition-politics of groups unified by common interest perceived in apparently diverse situations.” [17]

    A lengthy paper that invites careful consideration, so I’m going to leave it at that – for the moment. I look forward, in particular, to hearing what Donna makes of this one.

    SO Far:

    • This is an extensive deconstruction of the majority and dissenting opinions in Eldred v. Ashcroft, focusing variously on historical, economic and other perspectives for interpretation.

    • It explicitly seeks to fully embrace the messiness of copyright in each of these contexts.

    • It raises a host of interesting and important questions that should be fodder for discussion.

    Here are Larry Lessig’s comments: firstmonday on eldred where he makes the reasonable response to Rimmer’s call for radical reform – how to build a constituency/political base for radical change when we can’t even get incremental change on the radar?

  • Benny Evangelista’s article today says it’s time for the record industry to change: Music industry changing its tune:

    Teenagers who download from Internet finally forcing record industry to adapt [pdf] – a look at “Generation D,” for “digital” and “download.” There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this article, but here’s a newly-recurrent meme:

    “Fundamentally, the business model is going to shift,” said [the Yankee Group’s senior analyst Michael] Goodman. “The fact that they have been able to hold prices on CDs at a high level masked the fact that the business has become grossly inefficient. The customers are saying, ‘You know what, that’s your problem, not my problem. I don’t want to pay for your inefficiencies anymore.’ ”

  • The performing rights societies’ comments on HR.1417, To amend title 17, United States Code, to replace copyright arbitration royalty panels with a Copyright Royalty Judge, and for other purposes (also known as "The Copyright Royalty And Distribution Reform Act Of 2003") is available at Mi2N.

    This is an interesting bill (sponsor Lamar Smith, co-sponsors Reps. Berman and Conyers), in that it appears to be working to remove the Copyright Arbitration Review Board and to replace it with an administrative judge. The performing rights societies are largely focusing upon making it more difficult to get the judge involved in disputes over royalty payments, but there are a lot of specifics into the details of process and the review of new digital devices (see section 1010, for example) that are worth consideration.

  • Today’s Tangled Web describes SingingFish.com, a search engine specifically designed to find media files and, upon a check of the WWW site, an effort to one-up BigChampagne in the business of tracking online media consumption. Here’s their inaugural report/press release: Singingfish Streaming Media Report

    I look forward to learning how this file search service is distinguishable from that of the recently sued college students. As a subsidiary of Thomson (see the SingingFish fact sheet from the press kit), I imagine that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of this Billboard announcement. In particular, recall that Thomson owns the MP3 patents and has exercised them in interesting ways.

  • It just keeps getting better: SCO suit now seeks $3 billion from IBM; The Register’s writeup is a little more graphic: SCO pulls AIX licence, calls for permanent ban. The CNet piece points out that this remains a trade secrets case, not a copyright complaint. Moreover, it includes this quote from Linus Torvalds:

    Torvalds said in an e-mail interview that the Linux developer community’s process is transparent and called on SCO to reveal what its specific complaints are.

    “It’s not our side that isn’t identifying the code. We’ll work damn hard to identify everything they care to name,” Torvalds said. “In fact, the source control system is out there in the public, and it identifies the source and the reason for patches,” mentioning the BitKeeper repository he’s used for the past two years to keep track of code in the heart, or kernel, of Linux.

2003 June 16

(entry last updated: 2003-06-16 18:26:19)

A notice to my occasional readers: the MSL’s offices are being relocated Wednesday afternoon of this week. This means that, for a period of time starting Wednesday into Thursday, Furdlog (and, in fact, all of msl1.mit.edu) will be inaccessible – partly because the machine will be down and partly because the machine will be getting a new IP address. Once everthing propagates through the nameservers, you should be able to find me again – note that furd.com also points to my office machine, so http://furd.com/furdlog might be worth trying if http://msl1.mit.edu/furdlog doesn’t work – one may update faster than the other.

  • Mary Hodder points to an article on Muse.Net – apparently an inside-out MP3.com, with each user’s machine acting as the music server:

    “The goal here is to get the Linux hacker community to support the music community,” Chief Executive Robert Lord said, referring to the zealous group of programmers working on an alternative to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software.

    Mediacode has developed an online service to start the ball rolling. Dubbed Muse.Net, it lets people with high-speed Internet connections listen to the music on their computers from any other computer online.

  • Amazing! They really did it: SCO Terminates IBM’s Unix License [Slashdot]; SCO cancels IBM Unix license [CNet] – and with a striking threat that should lead to some interesting court reaction and interpretation:

    SCO said that the termination of the AIX license means that all IBM Unix customers also have no license to use the software. “This termination not only applies to new business by IBM, but also existing copies of AIX that are installed at all customer sites. All of it has to be destroyed,” [SCO’s Chris] Sontag said.

    SCO’s press release

  • From Business 2.0: The MP3 Economy: How labels and artists divvy up your MP3 dollar They’ve got a nice graphic, but let’s recap the data here:

    Participant Cut
    The Site 40%
    The Publisher 8%
    The Label 30%
    The Middleman 10%
    The Artist 12%

    A few other points

    • The publisher gets mechanical royalties: note that, irrespective of all other transactions, this fee is set and is not actually a percentage – the Copyright office sets these in regulations

    • The implication of the article is that the Label’s cut is purely performance royalties – it would be interesting to see if that’s really true. Given the effort that’s gone into getting the labels to sign up, I’m sure there’s more to this transaction than just royalties.

    • A truly striking claim is associated with the Artist’s cut. While the effects of recoupable costs are cited (bringing some artist’s cuts down to 8%), we find this claim:

      In many major-label contracts, charges for “packaging” and promotional copies are subtracted from the artist’s cut, leaving the talent with a measly 8 percent. BMG, Universal, and Warner have announced plans to do away with such deductions for digital downloads.

  • Jack Balkin points out that the closing weeks of this Supreme Court term are going to be busy!

  • Larry Lessig points to this essay by Evan Hunt on the notion of the commons, suggesting that the kind of cross-disciplinary characterization of the commons issue in Hunt’s essay is a good thing.

    While I agree that crossing disciplines is important (how could someone in ESD disagree with that!!), and that Evan’s drawing upon Zodiac to make some strong points about environmentalism is well-placed, I would definitely hesitate to agree with the thesis that environmentalism is all about the commons. In fact, when you read Evan’s essay through, he is actually talking about something that is subtly similar to the commons, but is actually something else – community.

    Note the examples that Evan uses – stealing salt and pepper shakers from restaurants, undermining parental authority, spamming and other intrusive advertising – activities to undermine socially acceptable behaviors. Moreover, these actions and others of their ilk are defended by making a showing of value derived from market (rather than social) norms (too cheap for anyone to care, get kids to buy more, if even one responds, it’s paid for itself).

    The kind of irresponsible/destructive behavior that Evan describes and then parallels with the issues that Larry holds so dear does not necessarily arise out of malevolence. If it were malevolent, it probably would be easier to cope with. Rather, what we’re facing, for example through the appropriation of culture via IP laws and regulation, is a loss of community and shared appreciation for the responsibilities that are owed to one another outside the domain of the marketplace.

    Of course, why kick about this? In the words of Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good,” right? Apologies to my friends at Sloan, but there really are things that the market cannot value or, more accurately, there are things that societies shouldn’t allow markets to value – the environment is one; culture is another. It’s just the wrong working metaphor, leading to a variety of untoward behavior. And movements like environmentalism and, dare I say, Creative Commons come into being to develop ways to develop institutions and instruments that can harmonize human action across these different domains, rather than allowing a single perspective/institution/mechanism to overwhelm another.

  • In addition to William Safire’s op-ed on the FCC (Regulate the F.C.C.; pdf), we have an interesting lesson on the implications of media concentration for the "news" business: To Interview Former P.O.W., CBS Dangles Stardom [pdf] – what it might take to get to interview Jessica Lynch – itemized in the graphic to the right!

  • Recall that I expressed surprise (corrected by a reader from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University) that Johnny Hallyday was still in the music business. Today’s New York Times gives an in-depth look: A French Original With Studied American Flair [pdf] – don’t miss the photos!

  • Following up a little more on the iPod music distribution issues raised by BoingBoing, we have this tidbit from Business 2.0: iPod: Digital Music’s Windows Desktop [pdf], introducing the idea of iPod bundling and placement:

    Since record companies are desperate for new means of distribution, shouldn’t they be looking for access to the iPod rather than just iTunes? It’s a classic bundling arrangement. Consider how software makers have pursued big deals to get on the Windows desktop because they know that preinstalled material gets the user’s attention. Take this idea to the iPod: What would a broadcast network pay a television manufacturer to ensure that the network was the first station anyone saw when turning on a TV? Apple has an opportunity, first of all, to release a series of customized, high-priced iPods. This would bring large fees into Apple’s coffers. The record companies would get a premium, plus outstanding distribution. And for both companies, such a move would mark a first step toward even bigger deals.

  • From the weblog roll:

  • A thoughtful consideration of the difficulties of selling downloadable classical music from the New York Times: Adventures in Downloading Haydn [pdf]

    I still wonder what the market is. Having purchased a range of classical music from iTunes for this article, I have a motley playlist of individual tracks that are hard to identify. When I play them, one blends into the other without a break, as on a classics lite radio station. Does anyone really want to download individual opera recitatives, or spend $40 on a download of a complete “Gioconda” that comes without a reliable cast list or libretto? I’m not sure what the future of classical music is, but I suspect that only aficionados can get much benefit from a site like this, and they probably don’t need it.

    At Musicmaker, we didn’t have the manpower to fix every mistake on the site, and it gradually became clear that whatever the secret to selling music on the Web was, we hadn’t found it. What we did have, after nine months, was the beginning of a knowledgeable, detailed data base of a lot of EMI’s classical music catalog. In a last-minute e-mail exchange in the hour or two after the layoffs had been announced and before we had to vacate the premises, my Reston colleagues and I joked about selling it. If only we had called Apple.

  • From dmusic.com (see also this O’Reilly Network listing): A Musician’s Take on File Sharing, DRM, and Copyleft Licensing by Miriam Rainsford (iriXx) (of Madonna ReMix Project fame)

    As a musician I find the notion of using DRM technology abhorrent — not only because of the risk that my works could be locked up indefinitely by technological means, despite my signing a non-exclusive distribution contract. Under anti-circumvention laws such as the DMCA and the forthcoming EUCD, it could well prove impossible for me to share my own work with my friends, or to distribute DRM-controlled content to another publisher.

    But aside from the legal and practical aspects, I believe DRM to be against the spirit of music-making. Music is made for enjoyment — and it is very difficult to create music without an atmosphere of freedom. Musicians just want to be free to create, without being concerned over having their music — or the tools they use to make music – tied down or controlled by devices which may well have detrimental effects on audio quality. Perhaps the reason Apple has been so notoriously silent on the topic of DRM is that the Mac OS dominates the creative market. To implement DRM on a Mac platform would risk alienating their primary customers in the pro audio sector.

    I believe there exists a better alternative to DRM and technological methods of control, in the form of copyleft licensing.

  • It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of this challenge to SoundExchange’s pending royalty-collecting monopoly: Comments Of Royalty Logic, Inc. Objecting To RIAA Webcasting Settlement (their earlier filing: Royalty Logic Objection to RIAA) (RoyaltyLogic WWW site – working?)

  • Declan McCullagh raises the spectre of an Internet “Fairness Doctrine” in this article on a pending set of European regulations: Why Europe still doesn’t get the Internet.

    I don’t know what to make of this, frankly. As Declan points out, this is an unenforceable set of rules, but it also betrays a peculiar double-think on the subject of weblogs and their importance. If you want weblogs to be important, then there is some sort of responsbility that accompanies that rise in relevance. Now, I would agree that the Council of Europe is out to lunch here, but the article touches on something that is going to have to be addressed if weblogs reach the heights that some expect to achieve.

    Here’s the Slashdot discussion: Europe To Force Right of Reply On Internet Communication

  • CNet passes along a Reuters feed indicating that Sony is starting to sell music online in Europe – but only in the U.K: Sony to offer music downloads in U.K.. Mark Mulligan puts in his $0.02: Sony Get on Board the Digital Download Bandwagon

    As things currently stand, EMI have a competitive advantage over its competitors at a time when margins from other revenue channels are contracting. It was only be a matter of time before the other major labels responded in kind. Although Sony Music’s deal with OD2 effectively only brings it in line with what the other 4 majors were already doing, in the context of Sony’s previous reluctance to commit, this is a significant first step forward.

    What will be interesting to see is whether the remaining three majors decide to expand their subscription service relationship with OD2 or to instead follow the EMI / i-Tunes model and make a larger amount of their catalogue available for a-la-carte download.

    In terms of direct impact on the European market, Apple’s i-Tunes service has had less of an impact than EMI (at least for the near-term) but its apparent success has undoubtedly caused something of a sea change in the way many in the music industry view digital distribution. An irony is that the combined effect with EMI, is that it might result in the UK’s online music offerings looking more comprehensive than those in the US.

  • Slashdot also notes that the CD price-fixing settlement has gone through – checks coming in the mail! From the APWire piece cited:

    A federal judge approved a settlement agreement Friday in a music antitrust lawsuit that will result in more than 3.5 million consumers receiving nearly $13 each.

    […] The ruling, however, does not stipulate exactly how much consumers will receive or when the checks will be distributed. More than 3.5 million consumers filed claims, now estimated at $12.63 each.

    The order/opinion doesn’t seem to be online, but here’s D. Brock Hornby’s 2003 opinion directory listing – here it is from Findlaw [via TechLawAdvisor]

  • As Slashdot notes [NYTimes pdf] (see also today’s Boston Globe: Open season on open source; pdf), the SCO deadline has passed with SCO revoking the Unix license to IBM’s AIX, and IBM declaring the right irrevocable. Slashdot also reports a possible review of the SCO claim unencumbered by the restrictive NDA that SCO has demanded of other reviewers: Settling SCOres

    CNet has an interview with Darl McBride of SCO: Why SCO decided to take IBM to court

    But ZDNet has the best commentary: Who Really Owns Unix? (a look at the Open Group’s stake in this fight) and It’s a Matrix moment for Linux. From the second piece:

    It’s a Matrix moment for Linux programmers. SCO is telling them that they haven’t been breathing air for the last few years.

    Their brains have been floating in tanks, feeding the parasitic robots (read lawyers) who are calling the shots at financially strapped SCO. Now the money is short, and it is time to harvest those brains.

  • Although it’s unlikely that anyone missed it, the Microsoft announcement that there won’t be any newer IEs means, as this Register article indicates, that it’s time to get Mozilla for your Mac and learn it. Here’s the CNet article, which points the finger at Safari: Microsoft: No new versions of IE for Mac

2003 June 13 – plus a new stab at talking through technological alienation

(entry last updated: 2003-06-13 18:41:35)

Milestones: Today’s a mini-wedding anniversary (Karen insisted we get married on a Friday the 13th). More surprising to me: Furdlog will be one year and one month old on Monday (missed the one year anniversary already!)

  • Hoot! Larry points to this joke to close the week: Simple Guide to the A-List Bloggers

  • After that long-winded writeup, something short: Microsoft Flouting DOJ Settlement?, a Slashdot discussion of this Washington Post article: Rivals Say Microsoft Flouts Deal [pdf]

  • Donna points to Jack Balkin’s discussion with Orin Kerr on First Amendment and Copyright.

    After churning through all of these, we come to Prof. Balkin’s conclusion:

    Because the DMCA alters the traditional contours of fair use by allowing private parties to do a technological end run around traditional fair use doctrines, it abridges what Justice Ginsburg called the “built-in free speech safeguards” of copyright law, and therefore violates the First Amendment.

    Now, even though I think I know what Prof. Balkin is talking about, this is a tortuous way to end his argument. At the risk of a dangerous hubris, let me try a different way of framing it. (Although, as I expect you can see, it’s not terribly terse <G>)

    The ways in which we perceive/receive the variety of human creative expressions have been continuously modified by our technological advances. The invention of writing eventually made story-telling, for example, into a solitary experience because the story-teller’s expression of the tale could be put down on paper and retrieved at the reader’s convenience, rather than requiring that s/he wait on the story-teller to arrive and tell his tales. Similarly, we have technologies that allow us to experience a wide variety of creative expression without having to rely upon actual physical human performances – recorded music, broadcast television, etc.

    The injection of technological intemediaries into the process of converting artistic expression into personal experience has dramatically expanded the scope of expressions available to all of us. The power of these technologies is such that they are almost invisible to us – consider that fact that we speak of “playing” a CD, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I might play a piano or a guitar, but all I do when I “play” a CD is to supply a machine-readable data source into a device designed to generate electrical pulses that are converted by other devices into air vibrations.

    The very invisibility of this technology is a wondrous thing, affording us an incredibly varied set of cultural experiences, but these technologies can also become a dangerous crutch. Because we have adopted these technologies so seamlessly, we have failed to recognize the vulnerabilities that come with reliance upon them and, thus, we have also failed to think about the necessary defenses. These expressions, which form the basis of our cultural experience and are the foundation upon which we build our next generation of art and culture, lie behind a curtain of technology that we assume obeys our will as easily as the “Play” button does on our DVD player.

    But, the DMCA and other instruments are forcing us to realize that this technological curtain is not one we can casually push aside as we seek to employ the expressions of the present to create the future. The technology that has given us such opportunity has blinded us to the fact that we depend upon its cooperation as we seek to built upon the past. And the broader, less technologically savvy members of society are only now learning that these technologies can be employed to serve masters other than the user, in ways that are inconsistent with our sense of what is the socially appropriate application of cultural expressions.

    It is this inconsistency between what our socially constructed notion of “fair use” & other acceptable ways of exploiting creative expression and what we have engineered into the instruments we use to experience these expressions that is causing us such difficulty today. And, I believe that what Prof. Balkin means with his closing sentence is that the use of a legal stricture to protect the ways that technology can alienate us from an expression is a First Amendment violation because, even though we have allowed technology to intermediate between us and cultural expressions, technology should not be used to lock those expressions away from the public domain.

    Those who argue that “fair use” is not a guarantee of access

    are purposely perpetuating the illusion that the technologies of distribution have nothing to do with the expression whose protection is being debated. Because of the way that we conceptualize these artifacts, access is implicit. I purchase a music CD because I expect that my player will turn it into sound – otherwise, it’s just another AOL coaster. (Remember why the it was so funny to learn that there were those so swept up in the Window 95 PR push that they bought the software even through they didn’t own a computer?)

    The technology and the expression go together, because only together does the human experience emerge that was the artist’s creation. The DMCA suggests that the two can be split apart without harm, and Prof. Balkin is saying that doing so is implicitly a First Amendment violation because it disables the development of the experience (speech) from the expression (the digital distribution)- and thus Justice Ginsberg’s conditions for safeguarding traditional fair use are not met.

    Part of solving this problem is going to be confronting the fact that the distributed artifact is not a creative expression without access to the technology implicit in the artifact’s design. Essentially, just as we think about protecting speech, we are now in an era where we have to think about the need for similar protections around the technologies employed in generating speech. (Think about it – why do we worry so much about literacy? Not to sell books! See Stallman’s The Right To Read)

    Until we get past this, there will be hopeless confusion throughout all our social institutions. Markets won’t price efficiently, laws won’t get made or enforced sensibly – and worse, the societies that figure it out first will have significant advantages over those that cling to this attractive, but crippling illusion.

  • Ernie’s got the iPod/music bug….

  • Salon’s got letters in response to their article on Mexican CD piracy (Furdlog entry) online today. Two striking excerpts from a set of worthwhile reads (interestingly, none supporting the RIAA position): this one from Jim Hassinger

    Here you have a whole black-market industry, with entrepreneurs using dozens of burners to manufacture CDs and then offer them for sale, and Jack Brown can’t tell the difference between that and file sharers? This market could be controlled by rather obvious enforcement means. But file-sharers don’t make money on their shares, and, despite the best efforts of the RIAA, will not be erased from the market, only out-competed.

    and from Keita Broadwater

    However, I was surprised at the implication that piracy will mean the end of musical tradition for Mexico or any other culture. I think the opposite is true. That’s the good part about the music industry’s possible fall.

    Music was here long before record companies existed and will be here long after these companies close their doors. The music industry stagnates musical development by focusing on a few artists and styles. Artists focus on popularity and money instead of their art. So, I won’t lose much sleep if U.S. record sales go down by 50 percent tomorrow.

    I know that artists have to eat like the rest of us, but I don’t believe they have to be rich.

  • Cory Doctorow points (and recommends) to this book: Burning Down the House: Ripping, Recording, Remixing, and More!

  • From the Music Industry News Network: Movie Archivists And Preservationists Urge Congress To Save Orphan Films

    A diverse group of movie archivists, preservationists, and creators sent a message to Congress today that without reforms in the copyright system, the majority of the nation’s historical motion picture heritage faces destruction as the film on which it’s printed crumbles away. They expressed their support for a proposal that would allow ‘orphan films’ – those that are no longer under active copyright management – to enter the public domain so that they can be copied, archived, and preserved.

    See the letter at the Eldred.cc site. Recall Prof. Volokh’s message yesterday – this is part of the way a consitutuency gets developed.

  • The Wired Magazine article from yesterday’s log gets some Slashdot discussion today: Bill Gates, Entertainment God? One commenter points to this Business Week article, Commentary: Why Microsoft Can’t Be the Bully on This Block [pdf], but I think I’m still with this thought:

    Only Microsoft would invent a house where you need to ask permission to act like you live there…

2003 June 12

(entry last updated: 2003-06-12 13:35:36)

  • Mark Mulligan resurfaces with his thoughts on the Apple-Roxio rumor going around.

  • Speaking of Prof. Volokh, Derek’s taken the time to read and summarize some points of the professor’s upcoming law review article.

  • A depressing thought came to me while reading Eugene Volokh’s recent posting on Larry Lessig’s copyright proposal. Prof. Volokh knows that copyright is not a property right, yet he uses a case drawn from property rights to argue that the taking clause would probably not obtain if, upon passage of the Eldred Act, current copyright holders sued to retain the now-current terms of copyright ownership. Is the “copyright=property right” meme that strong? Or are mineral rights somehow appropriate analogs?

    And, more importantly, what’s next in the process of selling this political agenda? In particular, what’s the compelling argument for the public domain, expressible in an elevator speech? (Donna’s thoughts from Copyfight)

  • Donna’s posted a provocative set of links here: Mary’s Back

  • At least his heirs don’t have copyright – a look at the Newton Project, putting Newton’s writings online: Word for Word on the Web, Isaac Newton’s Secret Musings [pdf]

  • Online culture from the NYTimes (again, something I can’t find in the RSS feeds – I’ve got to be missing something here): Voyager to a Strange Planet [pdf]

  • A FindLaw guest commentary on the Dastar decision, with an upbeat perspective on the Supreme Court’s views of the public domain’s importance: In a Trademark Case, The Supreme Court Recognizes That Art Flows From Multiple Sources

  • Hoist by one’s own petard: AICN: who’s a pirate?

  • Piling on: more reasons to be sorry I missed Tuesday’s dinner.

  • Technology Review has this article on Waste: Will ‘Waste’ Push File-Sharing Further Underground? [pdf]

  • Saw this in the dead tree Wired; now it’s online: Bill Gates, Entertainment God. After a chilling "either/or" look at two digital homes, a discussion of Microsoft and the glorious performance of Windows media, leading to this caveat:

    The catch: Your standard digital content (MP3 music files and MPEG-2 video files) becomes Microsoft digital content. These files are backward-compatible and work with other players, like WinAmp, but to get all the benefits, you need Media 9. With this kind of presence – from the server to the media player – the company not only sells more operating systems, it has more control. Specifically, the ability to enable or limit the portability of digital content however it sees fit. Which is where Microsoft’s digital rights management tools come in. Poole’s Digital Media Division spent $250 million developing software that on first glance seems to completely undermine the mission of the Media Center Edition. If the Media Center gives consumers control of their digital media, the DRM software takes it away.

    Microsoft’s DRM allows the studios and labels to inexpensively – thanks to modest licensing fees – put a smart wrapper on their intellectual property. The DRM gift wrap carries instructions that let the gift giver (the content providers) limit or restrict when and where the gift can be opened and how it can be used. For example, Miramax could create instructions that prevent your new Gangs of New York DVD from being archived or streamed. Universal might permit one digital archive copy of a Queens of the Stone Age CD but no burning or sharing.

    With an uphill row to hoe:

    But you can’t have a two-faced job and not make enemies. There’s still an awful lot of Microsoft bashing in Hollywood. “I spent a lot of time with Will, and I just never felt like I had a straight conversation with the guy,” says a former top executive at a content provider. “He would say, ‘We will do this and that, and why don’t you do this,’ and it was always the same thing: ‘Use our stuff; don’t use anybody else’s.’ Microsoft has a tremendous opportunity to be a choke point for personal computers, and they have used every opportunity to take control of that choke point.”

    An anecdote in the article describes a situation that I’m betting no Microsoft executive has ever faced before:

    The relationship between Hollywood and Microsoft, while improving, is fraught with miscommunication and conflict. Consider a meeting that took place at Disney last summer. Poole was hoping to get the company to license Microsoft’s DRM toolkit. In his view, Microsoft was offering to help expand the market for Disney movies and protect them from pirates. The Mouse house seemed open to the notion – and then asked Poole how much Microsoft would pay for the privilege of being able to play Disney content on its devices.

    Puts an interesting spin on this Reuters article on CNet News this morning: MusicNet to adopt Microsoft’s format.

    So, it’s definitely coming; it’s just a question of how intelligently it’s sold to the market. Will the customer know what he’s buying upfront, or will he only discover the limitations post sale? And, how will he react in either case? (See Ed Felten’s postings today and Tuesday for more on the state of play in DRM)

  • Does SCO have the guts/brass to do this: SCO Gives Friday Deadline To IBM is a Slashdot story citing a Reuters report:

    “If we don’t have a resolution by midnight on Friday the 13th, the AIX world will be a different place,” SCO President and Chief Executive Darl McBride told Reuters.

    “We’ve basically mapped out what we will do. People will be running AIX without a valid license,” said McBride, who offered no specific details on what action SCO would take.

  • PBS has posted a Q&A with Larry Lessig of Stanford and Matt Oppenheim of the RIAA on the question "Is downloading copyrighted music tantamount to stealing?". There’s a Slashdot discussion: Lessig And RIAA Answer NewsHour Questions

    I particularly like the way that Matt Oppenheim suggests that "Intellectual property should not be treated any differently than other property." in this response, yet blithely argues that scouring WWW sites for MP3s, wherever they might be, is not a trespass in this response, where he says

    We are not accessing anybody’s “property,” and we are certainly not violating anybody’s personal rights. We are doing exactly the same thing that every other infringer is doing.

    Oppenheim wiggles pretty well when asked how much of the copyright infringement lawsuit awards ends up in the hands of artists. But he also identifies a target that possibly should be higher on our radar in more than one answer (here, for example):

    Under the DMCA, the U.S. Copyright Office examines every three years whether or not this provision requires additional exemptions beyond those built into the statute. To date, nobody has suggested that copy control technologies have locked up a work that should be in the public domain.

2003 June 11

(entry last updated: 2003-06-11 07:53:11)