2003 June 1

(entry last updated: 2003-06-01 23:04:35)

  • I see I missed a few things by not following OSCOM more closely. With luck I can catch up (and perhaps understand the “WinerLog” comments?)

  • The Times’ Week in Review gives us this perspective on the upcoming FCC vote, with viewpoints by Yale’s Jack Balkin and Columbia’s Eli Noam: The F.C.C. Gets Ready to Roll the Media Dice [pdf]

    Today, of course, there are any number of television channels, competing phones services and nearly infinite number of Internet sites. “There has been a tremendous amount of wolf-crying for a long time,” Mr. Noam said. Another risk raised by those concerned by media consolidation is that those who rule the media universe, like the press lords of old, will be under no obligation to ensure that we receive balanced coverage of difficult topics. Indeed, they will have every incentive to reject that obligation.

    It would take “an act of superhuman self-restraint” for media moguls of tomorrow to avoid using their reach to influence debate, Mr. Balkin said.

    But they will be restrained by other sources of information, argued Jonathan A. Knee, a senior managing director at Evercore Partners, and investment company.

    “Everything we know about what’s going to happen in the future, namely digital cable and broadband Internet, suggests that it will continue to be more diverse,” he said, adding that, in the end, the government has no business trying affect what sort of material people choose to watch.

    Still sounds like the expectation is that the Internet will save us all.

  • For an opposing view, let’s try Ted Turner: Monopoly or Democracy? [pdf]

    Naturally, corporations say they would never suppress speech. That may be true. But it’s not their intentions that matter. It’s their capabilities. The new FCC rules would give them more power to cut important ideas out of the public debate, and it’s precisely that power that the rules should prevent. Some news organizations have tried to marginalize opponents of the war in Iraq, dismissing them as a fringe element. Pope John Paul II also opposed the war in Iraq. How narrow-minded have we made our public discussion if the opinion of the pope is considered outside the bounds of legitimate debate?

    Our democracy needs a broader dialogue. As Justice Hugo Black wrote in a 1945 opinion: “The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.” Safeguarding the welfare of the public cannot be the first concern of large publicly traded media companies. Their job is to seek profits. But if the government writes the rules in a certain way, companies will seek profits in a way that serves the public interest.

  • Cory Doctorow points to the story of the Texas superDMCA defeat

  • Matt raises some good questions at the heart of digital distribution and revenue for creators in his May 30 posting. The simple query “why does the paperback version of a book cost less than the hardcover edition?” kicks off some important questions about how creators of IP are remunerated. Matt’s answers won’t satisfy many, but the questions are important to consider.

  • Ed Felten on DVD CCA v Bunner: DVDCCA v. Bunner in California Supreme Court

  • Slashdot discusses a very convoluted Canadian WWW site that apparently is a home base for discussions of how to circumvent DirecTV’s signal encryption: DirecTV takes on PirateDen.com – more discussion at FreedomFight.ca: Directv vs. Pirates Den. That WWW page claims that DirecTV has no legal distribution rights in Canada, adding to the complexity of this conflict – jurisdiction is going to be a bear to clarify.

  • ComputerWorld gets the head of SCO to say what everyone’s been claiming is at the root of the Linux/Unix IP fight: SCO’s CEO says buyout could end Linux fight. Slashdot discussion: SCO’s Real Motive… A Buyout?

  • Something else I missed on May 30th: AOL pulls Nullsoft file-sharing software [via ScriptingNews; note that Dave links to the GPLed source: waste.zip]

    A day after developers at America Online’s Nullsoft unit quietly released file-sharing software, AOL pulled the link to the product from the subsidiary’s Web site.

    The software, called Waste, lets groups set up private, secure file-sharing networks. The product became available on Nullsoft’s Web site on Wednesday, just days shy of the four-year anniversary of being acquired by AOL. Waste is a software application that combines peer-to-peer file sharing with instant messaging, chat and file searches. Users can set up their own network of friends and share files between each other.

    The features of Waste are similar to those of file-swapping services such as Kazaa and the defunct Napster, but the difference is that only small networks of people (up to 50, according to the Web site) can use it. The software also offers encryption and authentication to prevent non-invitees from accessing the private networks.

    Slashdot discussion: AOL Pulls Nullsoft’s WASTE

  • Some interesting research into managing copyright infringement: Putting a Trace on Copyrighted Booty [pdf]

    Q: Protecting intellectual property and copyrighted works is tricky. What’s your solution?

    A: We’ve been trying to come up with a compromise. We’ve figured a way that, rather than reporting what customers are doing over phone lines or cable pipes — which is really a serious problem from a privacy perspective — we put any information you want to carry actually into the content itself.

    If somebody makes a copy of a complete work, you can trace that back to the device that was used. But if you’re not making a copy, or if you’re making copies and only using them within your house or even giving them to a friend who doesn’t distribute them, then there’s no record of what happens.

  • Time to start learning all you can about installing Mozilla: Microsoft to abandon standalone IE. Given that I’m about to purchase a PowerBook to replace my aging laptop, I wonder what this means for the Mac world. [Via ScriptingNews – as Dave points out, this means that Web developers are about to become Windows developers by default]

    Slashdot discussion: IE6 SP1 Will Be Last Standalone Version. The discussion jumps off from the story poster’s comments:

    I think the truth is just that Microsoft intends to integrate DRM very tightly with their OS and browser, and they’re aren’t going to try to backport that to, say, Win98, so they just aren’t going to release new versions of their browser for old, DRM-less operating systems. In the future server-side browser detection may be more about detecting whether the browser supports the DRM your “web service” uses than what version of Javascript or CSS the browser supports.

    The DRM/browser issue is very real, and a number of the comments are worth reading for their consideration of the implications of this move.

  • UserFriendly gives its perspective on the AOL-Time Warner/Microsoft settlement. Interestingly, this New York Times news analysis sees things quite differently: In Agreement With Microsoft, AOL Gets Cash and Flexibility [pdf]

    AOL Time Warner and Microsoft presented the agreement they announced Thursday as a new era of cooperation between two longtime rivals. But on closer inspection, the terms of the deal largely require Microsoft to cooperate with AOL while inviting AOL to reciprocate at its pleasure.

  • Without divulging anything, let me just say that posting on the subject of Aimee Deep can lead to some interesting e-mail traffic. Thanks, everyone!

    Update: I see that GrepLaw has posted something: Aimee Deep on Madster and Copyright. Slashdot discussion: Aimee Deep Interview (note that most of the comments are tragic Fark-like thoughts, but see below).

    From the GrepLaw comments, a pointer to a disgruntled former employee’s WWW page: "Why Aimster sucks" and other ponderables – at also looks like he has a Slashdot journal – here’s his comment on the Slashdot story.

    Unsurprisingly, MusicPundit tracks everyone’s discussion of the topic here, here and here.

    Update: I see that Matt has chimed in with his take on the recent blast of Aimee/Madelaine Deep PR.