I’m Not Sure *What* Billboard’s Trying Here

But they report on an online poll with hardly earth-shattering results: Poll: Lower CD Prices Will Curb Downloading.

Bringing down the consumer’s cost of music CDs will stem the tide of illegal downloading, according to a Billboard.com poll. Of 13,180 voters, 73% said lower prices will encourage fans to purchase new releases rather than seek out the songs illegally online.

On the other side of the coin, 27% opined that if the same music that’s on the CD is available for free, why pay for it?


Why War? Post on kuro5hin

A chance to hear from the site operators: Diebold Met with ‘Electronic Civil Disobedience’

Diebold’s use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in order to suppress information critical to the public welfare is abhorrent. As Bev Harris so succinctly puts it:

I don’t believe you can protect intent to break the law by slapping a copyright on it. And the memos that we posted show that the law has been broken. If you can protect intent to break the law, all anybody would need to do is take their bank robbery plans and put a copyright on it, and then say nobody can look at them because they’re copyrighted.

Diebold broke federal law by applying patches to Georgia election machines without having them certified (because it would have taken too long and made them look bad). They broke civil law by misrepresenting their software to state and local governments contracting them to count votes. By continuing to avoid fixing problems they knew were in existence — problems that jeopardized the entire process of voting — they have lost any ethical claim to these documents.

More importantly, however, the process of democratic voting should be one of transparency (see, for instance, the Slashdot discussion), not of back-room deals and uncertain security using a for-profit company. American voters are, quite literally, being robbed of their right to a free and fair election.

The View from Eastern Europe

Copyright Catch-Up in E. Europe — with this particularly un-American perspective on copyright infringement

Enforcers of copyright protection in the Baltics face an uphill battle, said Romans Baumanis, the region’s representative to the Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights, which has helped coordinate a local lobbying effort for fiercer implementation and interpretation of related legislation.

A person suspected of violating copyright law in Latvia is assumed innocent until proven guilty, placing the burden of proof on the prosecutors, according to Baumanis, who also works as vice president and managing director of the PBN Company in the Baltics. He said that in other nearby countries, such as Sweden, the problem has been judged as serious enough to make an exception and shift this responsibility in cases of copyright and trademark infringement.

Somebody needs to introduce the Latvians to the US’s DMCA subpoenas — now that’s justice!

Wired on the MPAA/Junior Achieivement Cooperative Indoctrination Program

An AP Wire news article: Hollywood’s Cold War on Swapping

Melinda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the National Education Association, says it’s unsettling when corporate presence in the classroom is tethered to sponsored incentive programs.

In this case, Junior Achievement is offering students DVD players, DVD movies, theater tickets and all-expenses-paid trips to Hollywood for winning essays about the illegalities of file sharing. Teachers, too, can win prizes for effectively communicating the approved message in class.

“What it speaks to is kind of a new era in commercialism emerging in classrooms, where the attempts to connect with students are becoming more and more sophisticated. Schools that are often strapped for cash are more tempted to partner with these organizations,” Anderson said.

“Coming from school, these companies are getting a tacit endorsement for their product,” Anderson said. “That’s not a school’s role — to be the purveyors.”

Slashdot takes a look: MPAA School Propaganda Program Examined

Valenti’s Solution?

The MPAA’s “Boston Strangler” – videotape copies: Film Lobbyist Partly Shifts Ban on Tapes

The compromise, expected for several days, means that only the 5,600 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will receive videotapes – not DVD’s – and the tapes will be encoded so they can easily be tracked if they end up online or sold on the black market. But while the compromise was meant to appease major studios worried about piracy and the boutique studios that feared their movies would not be seen by Oscar voters, it has stirred protests among other organizations that give out awards and will not receive the tapes.

Ugh! What a week!

(I’m sure that most of the stuff I post today is not of particular news interest to anyone, but I need to maintain my archives.)

Declan’s piece from earlier in the week on Congressional insanity in the digital communications space remains troubling, especially with the apparent crackdowns coming elsewhere – A new tech battle brews in D.C.

The fine print says huge categories of software–including Web browsers, instant messaging clients and e-mail utilities–that are offered for download must contain a warning that it “could create a security and privacy risk.”

And the catch? If the companies or individuals who offer the software for download don’t comply with the requirement, they will face criminal penalties such as fines or prison terms of up to six months. Even, that is, if the software is actually secure and poses no security risk.

[…] Unfortunately, this has become Congress’ usual pattern: A knee-jerk response that overreacts to a perceived technological problem. Instead of taking a thoughtful, careful approach, clue-impaired Congress critters do things like enact the Communications Decency Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which SunnComm Technologies used last week to threaten a Princeton University student. (Trivia: Did you know that on Sept. 11, 1997, a House committee voted to ban all encryption products without backdoors for the FBI?)

Swarthmore Crackdown

Students at the Why War? site at Swarthmore College have been pursuing an active effort to publicize and promulgate the contents of several leaked Diebold Systems memos to pressure the firm to address the multiple issues raised about e-voting that these memos reveal. Diebold has been responding with notice and takedown notices on a site-by-site basis, leading to an extended game of “whack-a-mole” that Swarthmore is now intervening in by taking away web access to any student linking to the site.

Ernest Miller has been taking the lead on investigating this. See his extended an updated entry here: Swarthmore Crackdown on Protesting Students Reaches New Low. As Ernie points out, this is a real low for online expression. Donna has also assembled several key links.

See also this ise.blog posting: Steal this election: Civil Disobedience – points to a Salon article from September: An open invitation to election fraud