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October 15, 2003

The Digital Imprimatur [9:46 pm]

This is going to get a lot of discussion: The Digital Imprimatur: How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle (from a Slashdot article - Trusted Computing) A discussion of all the usual suspects……

The dark future I dread will be the consequence of the adoption, by marketing or mandate, of a collection of individual technologies, each of which can be advocated as beneficial in its own right but which, taken together, have consequences less apparent to many yet, I believe, quite evident to some now promoting them. Each of the following technologies is either currently in existence or is the object of an active development effort. These items necessarily interact with one another, so it is impossible to entirely avoid forward references in discussing them. If something doesn’t seem clear on the first reading, you may benefit from re-reading this section after you’ve digested the essentials the first time through.

The Firewalled Consumer …

Certificates …

Trusted Computing …

Micropayment …

Digital Rights Management …

Trusted Internet Traffic …

[...] Today, the problems are evident, and people are at work attempting to solve them. Whatever solutions are adopted (or not adopted–one may rationally choose to live with problems if the solutions are worse), are likely to be with us for a long time. Whether they preserve the essential power of the Internet and its potential to empower the individual or put the Intenet genie back into the bottle at the behest of government and media power centres who perceive it as a threat will be decided over the next few years. That decision will determine whether the long dawn of the Internet was, itself, a false dawn, or will continue to brighten into a new day for humanity.

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Larry’s Comments on yesterday’s McDanel Events [6:41 pm]

From great lawyers

In an extraordinary (and extraordinarily rare move) it confessed error. “On futher review,” the government wrote, “in light of defendent’s arguments on appeal, the government believes it was error to argue that defendant intended an ‘impairment’ to the integrity of [X's] computer system.” The government asked that the conviction be vacated.

“In light of defendant’s arguments on appeal.”

Indeed, America: Where defendants sometimes get great lawyers, and where governments let justice admit it is wrong.

Related Slashdot discussion: Feds Admit Error In McDanel Security Case

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A Lessig FT Column I Missed [6:34 pm]

At least, I think I missed it (WordPress’ search features needs some refining, I see). This column, The BBC’s lessons for America, is full of the usual Lessig-isms that make him such a compelling speaker on this subject. Moreover, his comments are reflective of the things that were so distressing in the Forbes article discussed yesterday.

For the natural intuition of content owners is control. The very idea of giving up perfect control over how and whether content is re-used is treason among insiders. But as the BBC understands, it does not live in Disney World. And in the course of its internal review an obvious question has become increasingly pressing: if the BBC could make its archive available cheaply, what reason is there for keeping it from the people who have already paid for it? Moreover, such access would increase the BBC’s chances of selling content commercially and make it more likely that the technology to cultivate this content (computers) will be more eagerly bought.

On the other side of the Atlantic there is little evidence of similarly creative thought. Instead, the US government remains captured by the extremists. The very same week that the Creative Archive was born in Britain, it was exercising its power to kill a planned meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), the United Nations’ intellectual property agency, to consider “open and collaborative projects to create public goods”. The examples that had led Wipo to call for that meeting included the internet and World Wide Web (whose protocols are in the public domain); a consortium of biomedical researchers and companies exploring single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs); and the Global Positioning System, which Ronald Reagan had set free for any use, commercial or non-commercial, in the United States in the early 1980s. It also included the phenomenon of free and open source software (F/OSS). It was this last category that excited the opposition of Microsoft.

[...W]hat was surprising was the US government’s reasoning for the meeting’s withdrawal. Lois Boland, director of international relations for the US Patent and Trademark Office, explained “that open-source software runs counter to the mission of Wipo, which is to promote intellectual-property rights”. As she further explained: “To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of Wipo.”

These statements are astonishing for a number of reasons.

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A Couple of CNet News Bits [6:21 pm]

  • eDonkey pulls ahead in European P2P race

    A study released Tuesday by network equipment manufacturer Sandvine has found big differences between the North American P2P market and that of Europe. While applications that are based on FastTrack–such as Kazaa and Grokster–still dominate in the United States, they have less sway in other countries.

    In Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel, eDonkey is the rising star, which Sandvine says is evidence that the file-sharing sector is now an evolving, multiapplication environment.

    [...] [eDonkey] differs in two primary ways from earlier file-swapping services. The first has to do with decentralized search. When a file is shared on the network, the technology gives the file a “hash” identifier–essentially an address that’s based on the characteristics of the file itself. Each computer that’s logged onto the network has a certain range of addresses assigned to it, so it can act as an index.

    [...] The second–and main–advance is that the system can break up each file into tiny pieces, allowing them to be distributed independently. As soon as one person starts downloading these pieces, he or she starts offering them to the network at large. That means that a movie does not have to be downloaded in its entirety before it can be offered to other people, which makes distributing these and other larger files much more efficient.

  • Traffic overwhelms new online science journal

    A new online science journal aimed at changing the paradigm of scholarly publishing has proved so popular it’s been mired in a crush of traffic since its Sunday night launch.

    The inaugural issue of the journal, called the Public Library of Science Biology, is the first journal to be published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a San Francisco nonprofit that’s backed by several highly regarded scientists who want to see scientific research freely distributed online.

  • Grokster chief heads to Spanish P2P firm

    The head of file-swapping company Grokster, Wayne Rosso, has resigned from his post and will take the helm of younger Spanish peer-to-peer technology rival Blubster.

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Wired News’ on the Latest RIAA Lawsuit Snafu [4:09 pm]

Fan to RIAA: It Ain’t Me, Babe

Ross Plank, a software engineer from Playa del Rey, California, said that the Recording Industry Association of America mistakenly targeted him when it unleashed 261 lawsuits against alleged music swappers.

[...] Plank said the RIAA has the wrong IP address. The suit lists a Kazaa user name and he doesn’t use Kazaa on his machine. Plus he didn’t recognize the bulk of the songs he’s accused of sharing. Most of the songs are Spanish-language Latin music.

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No Macrovision for The Matrix Reloaded? [3:38 pm]

According to this LATimes article, it’s not on the DVD: Taking Different Tacks on Piracy [pdf]

Warner Home Video, the AOL Time Warner Inc. subsidiary that released the DVD on Tuesday, decided not to use one of three security measures commonly employed by major Hollywood studios. The missing piece is copy-protection technology by Macrovision Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., which is designed to stop people from using VCRs or digital video recorders to copy a movie from a DVD player.

[...] The move comes as another leading Hollywood studio, Vivendi Universal’s Universal Pictures, said it would add a layer of protection to its movies. Universal announced Tuesday that it would insert digital watermarks into its releases in a bid to stop unauthorized copying.

The watermark, supplied by Verance Corp. of San Diego, is an inaudible bit of audio that’s designed to tell recording devices whether they can copy a film or song. A watermark in a film released only to theaters would instruct the devices not to play the disc, under the assumption that the copy was unauthorized, said Jerry Pierce, senior vice president of technology for Universal Pictures.

Universal’s move won’t be effective unless consumer-electronics and computer manufacturers adapt their products to look for watermarks and follow their commands.

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Juniper Networks Offer Up Some Kool-Ade [2:52 pm]

From SFGate: Juniper pushing for upgrades to improve Internet: Founder calls for common standards at tech conference

At a technology conference in Switzerland today, Juniper’s founder, Pradeep Sindhu, will call on the computer networking industry to hammer out agreements on how to upgrade the Internet.

The Sunnyvale company wants to ensure that networks built by different telecommunications firms seamlessly hand off traffic among each other without any change in the quality of service. Juniper also wants to make the public network more secure and create ways for Internet service providers to bill each other for the traffic they exchange.

Most of the ideas in Juniper’s “Infranet Initiative” — a combination of “infrastructure” and “network” — aren’t new. The concept of forging an industrywide consensus on them is.

Juniper’s press release. The Infranet Initiative is a call for mating IP with MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS - IETF RFC-3031 ) - from the MPLS FAQ

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Influencing the "Norms" [2:25 pm]

From MI2N: New E-Tools Available For Parents, Educators To Teach Children About Online Copyrights

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the foremost organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world, today introduced two new online tools to help parents and educators teach youth respect for copyright law and intellectual property rights. Added to BSA’s www.PlayItCyberSafe.com site for kids are a Code of Cyber-Ethics and a Certificate of Recognition for children to sign and post near their computers once they agree to follow the code.

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Puretracks Opens Today [2:16 pm]

Canada’s own digital music service opens today: Puretracks. Apparently, it’s pretty popular, in that I can’t get near it. But you can read the press release: Puretracks, Canada’s First Digital Music Download Service, Debuts Today

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Pressure On Charter Rises [2:14 pm]

Charter Communications has managed to avoid complying with the RIAA’s DMCA subpoenas, but CNet News reports RIAA to Charter: Give up file-swapper names.

The Recording Industry Association of America is pressing a federal court to ignore cable Internet provider Charter Communications’ attempt to keep private the names of 93 subscribers who allegedly traded songs online illegally.

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Donna Asks A Key Question [2:01 pm]

In this Copyfight posting: Copyright + Civil Liberties No Zero-Sum Equation. To wit:

Or to put it another way, why do we tolerate in the name of copyright protection what we will not tolerate in the name of combating terrorism?

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