October 17, 2003

Don’t Read While Eating [8:48 pm]

Slashdot alerts us to the thinking at Verisign exposed in this CNet interview: The cultural divide and the Internet’s future

The DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks last October on the root system–hey, there are 13 global copies of that, and they’re all operating. It should scare people that nine of the 13 went down. It’s time for the Internet infrastructure to go commercial. On the core services of the infrastructure, it’s time to pull the root servers away from volunteers who run them out of a university or lab or some other level. That’s going to be an unpopular decision.

More than unpopular. That’s going to be received as a declaration of war.

It’s not a declaration of war; it’s a declaration of obvious needs for the network to mature; to being the infrastructure it needs to be if we’re going to run the economy on it–and we are. That’s why you’re seeing 10 billion hits a day on our network, and that’s why you’re going to see 20 billion two years from now. The global population deserves a commercially resilient and robust network and the supporting services underneath it; because of the way it grew up over the last 20 to 25 years, the Internet has pockets where that is not the case.

[...] Are you looking to monetize DNS lookups?

No. That base level of DNS (domain name system) response is an obligation we took on when we inherited that contract. But it would be commercially unreasonable for anyone to suggest that we shouldn’t be allowed to build incremental services on top of that if they deliver value.

Here’s a nice comment:

security (Score:5, Insightful)

by commodoresloat (172735) on Friday October 17, @04:46PM (#7243819)

(http://nofuncharlie.com/)

The amazing thing is his argument is based on security; he asserts that commercialized root servers will be better for security. What is the evidence of that? Microsoft? He asserts that recent hacker attacks on the root servers (which took out 9 of them at once) were because they’re at universities and (one of them) in the military, but offers no argument as to why commercial ownership would be better. The whole thing has the tone of, it’s time to grow up and take the toys away from the little kids because they rightfully belong to us grownups, who will do better with them. His arrogance is beyond belief! And then he’s got the nerve to point out that security is more important than philosophical debates about commercialization of the net. Well, duh, but the only thing he’s got supporting his position is a philosophical assumption (without evidence) that commercial servers are more secure than publicly owned ones.

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More on Halderman [5:36 pm]

Apparently the head of SunnComm really does suffer from the typing equivalent of logorrhea plus foot-in-mouth disease. See this Ed Felten post, SunnComm’s Latest, and the comment that inspired it: Sunncomm

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Economics of the Current Digital Download Services [5:00 pm]

From a consumer’s perspective in Business Week: What Price Online Music? [pdf]

But I took a closer look at the 99-cent-per-song pricing model and came to this conclusion: For most consumers, this deal just doesn’t make economic sense. That’s a real problem for the recording industry if it wants people to stop stealing songs through Internet file-sharing.

Here’s what I did: In the past few weeks, I took the last 10 CDs I bought — an eclectic mix of indie rock, such as Granddaddy and The White Stripes, and more mainstream hip-hop acts, such as 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and Jean Paul — and did an economic analysis of what I would have paid if I had downloaded the CDs instead. True, fans of singles might find a song for cents a great deal, but for the millions of album connoisseurs like myself, current pricing models hit a flat note.

[...] The sad truth is, if I had downloaded my music, more often than not, I would have ended up paying the same or even more for the virtual version of the CD. That seems silly, especially considering that with a CD, I’d actually own a tangible product with better sound (plus liner notes and art), which I could transfer to other devices or use to burn as many CD copies as my heart desired, for my personal use, of course.

[...] Problem is, online-music services cannot significantly lower prices without losing money. Under existing licensing deals, 65 to 75 cents of each 99 cent download goes to the labels. If the record companies lowered their royalties to, say, 30 cents to 35 cents, online music services could make a profit while greatly boosting the total market.

[...] The big record labels deserve credit for finally pulling their heads out of the sand after years of pretending that file-sharing services would disappear. But they need to go one step further. The harsh reality of the Internet Age is that the industry will forevermore be competing against free, pirated music. If it doesn’t slice digital prices to around 50 cents, the market will likely never go mainstream.

[...] Indeed, file-sharing continues to grow despite the industry’s litigation blitz against downloaders, some as young as 12. During the week of Sept. 11, 4.5 million users on average were on file-sharing services on the FastTrack network such as KaZaA, according to Big Champagne, a file-sharing research service based in Beverly Hills, Calif. That was up from 3.4 million users in late August, right before the industry started suing consumers.

Seems to me the recording industry is facing an important choice: It can ensure the future of the business by helping to create a thriving online-music revenue-generator. Or it can continue to sue downloaders one by one and keep prices higher than what is needed to jump-start the retail digital-music industry. What’s it gonna be, guys?

Based on what is listed below, the answer seems to have been given……

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I’m Shocked, Shocked That There’s Hypocrisy Here! [4:52 pm]

See Ernest Miller’s analysis of the Microsoft Q&A on iTunes: Microsoft on iTunes for Windows

Update: The Slashdot community weighs in: Microsoft Dismisses Apple’s iTunes for Windows. Here’s a succint comment:

Please remember. (Score:5, Insightful)

by DAldredge (2353) on Saturday October 18, @02:17PM (#7249041)

(http://aldredge.com/ | Last Journal: Friday October 10, @09:45AM)

Choice to Microsoft is letting you pick from any of THEIR products. They do not use that word as we do.

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More of same [4:47 pm]

From CNet News: Record industry warns of new lawsuits

The Recording Industry Association of America has begun preparing a second round of file-swapping lawsuits, notifying 204 individuals that they are in line to be sued for copyright infringement.

Unlike with the previous wave of suits, the record labels’ trade association is giving the lawsuit targets warning this time around, offering them a chance to settle before the suits are filed. The change in tactics comes after considerable criticism from federal lawmakers and others concerning the group’s first batch of court actions against 261 individuals last month.

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Etienne Responds! [9:44 am]

When Puretracks (note how well it seems to map domains/IPs to geography — "Sorry, Puretracks is limited to Canada.") went online, I asked what its existence meant for the Canadian CDR and associated levies. Etienne, who’s much closer to the situation, posts this response: Fees collected by the Canadian recording media

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LimeWire Tries Something [9:13 am]

The Register reports on LimeWire’s forays into legal content, and the contradictions its effort reveal: Lime Wire launches legal content portal

For content owners, it’s a way of making their material rise out of the morass of illegally shared songs and pirated DVDs - something that’s hard to do even if you host your material on the network yourself. The other option would be to offer your material on your web site, but this way you potentially get closer to your audience.

Lime Wire, meanwhile, shows itself to be promoting the use of P2P for legitimate purposes rather than the dodgy ones for which it and its ilk are infamous. [...]

Of course, the snag is that by emphasising what they are allowed to give away - out-of-copyright novels, unsigned bands’ demo tracks, royalty free photos, and so on - Lime Wire is highlighting the fact that almost all of the good stuff on offer, the contents that’s worth having, isn’t legal.

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SunnComm doesn’t know when to shut up [9:00 am]

Not to mention enforcing a little restraint when writing to a media organ! See this article from The Register in response to Jacobs ill-considered e-mail about their coverage of Halderman’s work: SunnComm CEO demands to be called a ‘laughing stock’. Here’s how it starts:

A couple days after SunnComm backed down from its threat to sue a Princeton researcher, the company’s CEO Peter Jacobs sent the following letter to El Reg expressing displeasure with our coverage of the incident.

Subject: In Britain…

does one re-write stories from other writers without talking to the principals? MediaMax under widespread ridicule? I think not. You obviously didn’t understand that Mr. Halderman discovered NOTHING except how to draw the press to him like a magnet. Here’s yesterday’s BOSTON GLOBE article which you might consider using as a roadmap to help navigate the bandwagon you jumped on.

Boston Globe story

pj

Peter H. Jacobs

Chief Executive Officer

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Project Gutenberg Publishes #10,000 [8:38 am]

Via Slashdot: Project Gutenberg Publishes 10,000th Free eBook; the Project’s WWW site

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Slashdot on the Broadcast Flag [8:30 am]

FCC Considers Mandating HDTV Copy Protection

These people really don’t get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

by salesgeek (263995) on Friday October 17, @08:17AM (#7238377)

RIAA, MPAA, now the broadcast TV industry really just don’t get it: the purpose of all this digital technology is to lower the marginal cost of copying and editing information. Every copy protection scheme is doomed to fail, even in a “trusted” computing environment. At the end of the day, it’s all binary data and it costs NOTHING to reproduce it. If anything, the media should be embedding advertising and so on so they can sell commercial time on the traded files. It’s an opportunity.

Incidentally, there would be substantially less file swapping going on of TV shows if the networks made them available on DVD or electronically. I’d love to be able to go FOX and buy the episode of the Futurama I missed the other night for a reasonable - considering it was free on the air price.

I hope congress and the FCC see Viacom’s threat to halt HDTV broadcast for what it is: an attempt to ursurp the governement’s power. In fact, I hope we all wise up to the increasing granularity of intellectual property and reverse that trend. At the end of the day, the people will wise up to it and the people absolutely will limit intellectual property rights.


Wont change a thing (Score:5, Insightful)

by DaHat (247651) on Friday October 17, @08:19AM (#7238381)

I’ve spent the last 6 months working with professional and broadcast level digital tv encoders and decoders, even writing a fair amount of software on both sides. This flag is pretty pointless, and is often a laugh when discussed at work.

With the hardware we build and work with, the sort which a broadcaster would use to both create and monitor their transport stream, the ability is needed to record and play back at will, thus, such a flag would pretty much be ignored by our systems if implemented. Besides, if you end up modifying the ATSC standard, in order to prevent breaking all previous encoders/decoders on the market, you would need to make such modifications to portions of the stream which are unused, and existing off the shelf parts would ignore such a modification. Thus, the protection starts off ineffective.

Even after the existing non compliant decoders/recorders/etc on the market are retired to due age or death, newer hardware which ignores such protections would still be available, you’d just have to pay a fair amount.

What’s on my Christmas list this year? A DTV decoder as well as a recorder/player unit, cost for both? About 15k. As sad is it is to ask, how important is your right to copy to you? Is it work 15 thousand dollars?

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Vonage Decision — State Can’t Regulate VoIP [8:17 am]

From CNet News: Court hangs up state VoIP rules.

In a 22-page opinion released Thursday, Minnesota U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis wrote that VoIP provider Vonage is an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” and therefore exempt from state regulation. The opinion was issued a week after the judge ordered an injunction permanently barring Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission from forcing Vonage to get a telephone operator’s license to do business in the state.

[...] “It’s a mess,” said Kevin Werbach, founder of consulting firm Supernova Group and former FCC counsel for new technology. “The distinction between information and telecommunications services is in the 1996 act, but it assumes they are completely distinct…Today, all networks are digital and can provide many services in many different ways. (Regulators) are trying to come to an end result within a flawed legal framework.”

[...] “The problem is that the FCC and the state commissions have not rationalized the level of regulations that should apply to different participants and different technologies,” said Steve Davis, senior vice president of public policy at Qwest Communications. “The government needs to stop regulating based on the technology or the provider. Instead it should look at the service if the service is something based in a competitive market where regulations are no longer necessary.”

VoIP “should be allowed to grow and shouldn’t be held captive to the old regulatory regime that current telephony is saddled with,” added an AT&T spokeswoman.

Here’s Judge Davis’ summary from the opinion:

This case illustrates the impact of emerging technologies evolving ahead of the regulatory scheme intended to address them. The issue before the Court is tied to the evolution of the Internet and the expansion of its capability to transmit voice communications. Despite its continued growth and development, the Internet remains in its infancy, and is an uncharted frontier with vast unknowns left to explore. Congress has expressed a clear intent to leave the Internet free from undue regulation so that this growth and exploration may continue. Congress also differentiated between telecommunications services, which may be regulated, and information services, which like the Internet, may not.

Plaintiff Vonage Holdings Corporation ("Vonage") provides a service that permits voice communications over the Internet. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ("MPUC") issued an order requiring Vonage to comply with Minnesota laws that regulate telephone companies. Vonage has asked this Court to enjoin the MPUC, arguing that it provides information services, and not telecommunications services.

The Court concludes that Vonage is an information service provider. In its role as an interpreter of legislative intent, the Court applies federal law demonstrating Congress’s desire that information services such as those provided by Vonage must not be regulated by state law enforced by the MPUC. State regulation would effectively decimate Congress’s mandate that the Internet remain unfettered by regulation. The Court therefore grants Vonage’s request for injunctive relief.

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The Windows iTunes Rollout [8:05 am]

Lots of coverage, with the usual suspects — the soundbite of the day:

“We’re going to fight illegal downloading by competing with it,” said [Steve] Jobs. “We’re not going to sue it. We’re not going to ignore it. We’re going to compete with it.”

  • The Boston Globe: Grand Vision [pdf]

    To use Apple’s Music Store, PC users must download the iTunes software. Jobs said the Windows version is identical to the Mac version. Yet Jobs could not resist a dig at the software giant whose operating system is supporting Apple’s digital music ambitions.

    ”ITunes for Windows is probably the best Windows app ever written,” he said, referring to a software application.

  • The New York Times: With Flare, Apple Extends Its Reach Into Online Music [pdf]

    “Apple has hit a home run,” said Charles Wolf, a financial analyst at Needham & Company. “The one thing you need to win in this business is traffic, and they got AOL and pre-empted them from any other music site. The Pepsi deal is just frosting on the cake.”

    [...] The agreement was rich in paradox, leaving many Apple-watchers shaking their heads in amazement. They recalled that Mr. Jobs, in 1983, recruited John Sculley, then Pepsi’s chief executive, by asking him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water?”

  • Wired News: ITunes, Now for the Rest of Us

  • David Coursey, who never misses a chance to plump for his Microsoft masters, asks New Apple iTunes: Digital hub or digital flub?

  • Slashdot: Apple Releases iTunes for Windows

  • The Register brings their own special perspective: Pepsi, Apple team to lure kids to DRM

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See A Silent Movie [7:55 am]

On your desktop — and entertaining bit of EFF "education" — takes me back to dinners at Shakey’s Pizza! MP3 Caper [via Donna]

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