November 3, 2003

Anyone Surprised? [2:24 pm]

Microsoft Moves Virtual PC from Linux

When Microsoft Corp. launches Virtual PC 2004, a Linux version of the software won’t be along for the ride–at least not officially.

Microsoft confirmed to eWEEK.com that an upgrade to Virtual PC–software it purchased from Connectix Corp. in February that lets enables users to run multiple PC-based operating systems simultaneously on one workstation–is close to being released to manufacturing. However, the new version will no longer offer official support for BSD Unix, Linux, NetWare or Solaris on Intel.

Carla Huffman, a product manager in the Windows Client Division, explained, “Customers will be able to run most variants of Linux, as well as NetWare and BSD, as guest OSes on Microsoft’s version of Virtual PC. However, Virtual PC is optimized for Windows around key customer scenarios.”

[...] Microsoft has not abandoned its Mac audience. Huffman said, “Virtual PC for Mac is alive and well! Microsoft released its version of the product, Virtual PC for Mac Version 6.1, this past August and will continue to support and innovate around the technology.”

However, the Redmond, Wash., software giant has made few moves to market the Mac software. In addition, Virtual PC for Mac 6.1 does not support the latest G5-based Macs. There is no release date for a G5-compatible Virtual PC for Mac. As is, users at such popular Mac sites as Mac Update have said they are underwhelmed by the current version.

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EFF Goes After Diebold [2:18 pm]

Electronic Frontier Foundation and Stanford Law Clinic Sue Electronic Voting Company

A nonprofit Internet Service Provider (ISP) and two Swarthmore College students are seeking a court order on Election Day tomorrow to stop electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold Systems, Inc., from issuing specious legal threats. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Internet and Society Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford Law School are providing legal representation in this important case to prevent abusive copyright claims from silencing public debate about voting, the very foundation of our democratic process.

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Clear Channel Jerks [8:45 am]

Sorry, this is off-topic, but really — as a polite, but oft-injured, Boston area cyclist, I am mortified by this story. I would happily do what I can to help to make sure these three radio stations lose their licenses, or that the jerks who made these threats lose their jobs:

Bicyclists Seek Punishment for D.J.’s

Bicyclists are demanding that the nation’s largest radio group be punished because disc jockeys at three stations made comments that they say encouraged drivers to throw bottles at bike riders or hit them with open car doors.

They say the morning show hosts at Clear Channel Communications stations in Cleveland, Houston and Raleigh, N.C., also suggested that motorists blast horns at cyclists, and speed past them and slam on their brakes in front of them.

[...] The comments started June 30 on WMJI in Cleveland when one morning show personality complained that a group of bicyclists had held him up in traffic near his house.

“The other guys started chiming in,” said a listener, Don Barnett, service manager at Century Cycles in Medina, Ohio. “Then it escalated. People started calling in.”

Similar remarks came weeks later on WDCG-FM in Raleigh and KLOL-FM in Houston.

Lois Cowan, 42, who owns the Century Cycles shops in the Cleveland area, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission asking it to fine the company or take away the licenses of the three stations.

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The NYTimes on the Diebold Stink [8:39 am]

File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech [pdf] — this is a very lengthy piece

Forbidden files are circulating on the Internet and threats of lawsuits are in the air. Music trading? No, it is the growing controversy over one company’s electronic voting systems, and the issues being raised, some legal scholars say, are as fundamental as the sanctity of elections and the right to free speech.

Diebold Election Systems, which makes voting machines, is waging legal war against grass-roots advocates, including dozens of college students, who are posting on the Internet copies of the company’s internal communications about its electronic voting machines.

The students say that, by trying to spread the word about problems with the company’s software, they are performing a valuable form of electronic civil disobedience, one that has broad implications for American society. They also contend that they are protected by fair use exceptions in copyright law.

Diebold, however, says it is a case of copyright infringement, and has sent cease-and-desist orders to the students and, in many cases, their colleges, demanding that the 15,000 e-mail messages and memorandums be removed from each Web site. “We reserve the right to protect that which we feel is proprietary,” a spokesman for Diebold, David Bear, said.

[...] Last week the advocates’ efforts to keep the documents online took another step as Freenet, an international anticensorship organization that promotes the anonymous distribution of files, obtained copies of the Diebold documents. The technology that the network uses is a peer-to-peer service, and is similar in many ways to the software behind file-trading companies like Kazaa and the original Napster.

Legal scholars say that the online protest and the use of copyright law by Diebold have broad implications and show that the copyright wars are about more than whether Britney Spears gets royalties from downloaded songs. (emphasis added)

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NYTimes on LAMP Suspension [8:33 am]

(see earlier coverage: LAMP Shut Down, MIT Chases Wrong Problem — looks like the crackdown on LoudEye is not going unremarked) Music-Sharing Service at M.I.T. Is Shut Down [pdf]

The music service had its official start one week ago but within hours, music companies, including the Universal Music Group, complained that they had not granted - or been paid for - the required legal permission to make the copies of their songs used by the system.

The creators of the new service, M.I.T. students Keith Winstein and Josh Mandel, were dumbfounded by the industry move, since they had paid Loudeye, a company in Seattle, to fill a hard drive with licensed songs. Mr. Winstein and Mr. Mandel said that they thought the contract with the company guaranteed that the copyright issues had been resolved.

“So far as I know, we bought this music fair and square,” Mr. Winstein said.

[...] For its part, Loudeye seems to be claiming that M.I.T. had misunderstood its contract. The company did not return calls seeking comment, but a spokesman told The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the conflict, “We provided content to M.I.T.,” but “we did not provide licenses for them to issue that content.”

That would appear to contradict what the company had said in a news release the day that the program started, which referred to “approximately 48,000 licensed digital music tracks.” In the same Loudeye news release, the company quoted Mr. Winstein as saying, “As far as we know, Loudeye is the only company in the country with all the rights and permissions in place to provide this service.” That news release has since been removed from Loudeye’s Web site.

Plus, we get Jonathan Zittrain channelling Jessica Litman:

To Jonathan Zittrain, who teaches Internet law at Harvard and is a director of the university’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, that incident shows that the world of copyright has grown so arcane that even the major players do not even understand it. “It doesn’t seem that M.I.T. was trying to steal anything, but rather to simply hew to the letter of the law in an incredibly byzantine area,” he said. “Good faith and technical genius alone doesn’t make it work.”

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Making Use of End-to-End [8:12 am]

From the BBC News: Hunt for ‘Napster of good causes’

Tom Steinberg, MySociety founder, said he wanted to try to find Napsters of civil life that, like the music-sharing system, prove enormously useful to people who want to get involved with their community or want to help make society better.

He said that the e-democracy type projects and tools MySociety wants to find and fund rarely emerge spontaneously online.

He said businesses were unlikely to produce these tools themselves as they tend not to make money. He added that central government was usually bad at small scale projects that met diverse needs and the voluntary sector rarely had the technical or financial resources to do the work itself.

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New Napster Review [8:08 am]

From Wired News: New Napster Off to a Solid Start

Despite its flexibility, the service can also be confusing. Some songs in the Napster library can only be streamed, while others are only available for a 99-cent download, even if you’re paying for the streaming service. Which songs fall into each category isn’t clearly spelled out. Some users are liable to think they are signing up for unlimited access to the Napster library, only to find out that some tracks must be purchased separately.

Nov 3 - New Napster Off To A Solid Start

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Forbes Offers A Counter-Position on the Broadcast Flag [8:02 am]

At least, that’s what the title, Little To Fear From Broadcast Flags, seems to suggest. Reading the document, though, instead reveals a rather muddled perspective, largely asserting that P2P sharing of HDTV shows will never be practical because of file sizes and bandwidth limitations. Similarly, because polls show that most consumers want to copy files to timeshift and share with friends, the industry won’t act to be overly restrictive.

What the author fails to address is, if it’s all much ado about nothing, why should the FCC go ahead and mandate the broadcast flag? A relatively poor presentation.

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BBSpot: Educational Program for Under-Recognized Form of Piracy [7:38 am]

Coke Educates on Morality of Drinking Tap Water

The program, “What’s the Diff?: A Guide to Consumer Liquid Citizenship,” launched last week with a lesson plan that aims to keep kids away from underground liquid services like wells and modern plumbing. These services let users share water without paying anything to bottling plants or syrup producers.

“This is an issue of intellectual property,” said Soft Drink representative Bob Shruggers. “By drinking water, these pirates are stealing from the hard workers who developed such drinks as Ramblin’ Root Beer, Sprite Tropical Remix, Vanilla Coke, and Vanilla Lemon Coke.

[...] Early classroom programs had troubles. Bert Binger, a retired cola bottler, taught the students in liquid savvy Poland, Maine a thing or two about the effects of making the right decision when it comes to sugar water. The class played a game where they role-played as members of the soft drink industry. Some students produced syrup, other students bottled sodas, and other students created a marketing campaign. At the end of the game, the student playing the consumer drank water instead of soda, and the drink artists were never compensated for their work.

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