November 24, 2003

A Little More Lessig [6:16 pm]

Seems like it’s just been that sort of day. From BoingBoing: Fiber to the People

The answer, as Cornell economist Alan McAdams argues, has nothing to do with Karl Marx and everything to do with basic economics. AFNs are natural monopolies. That doesn’t mean that there can be only one, but rather that if there is one, then it is far cheaper to simply add customers to the one than to build another. The electricity grid in a local neighborhood is a good example of a natural monopoly. Sure, we could run four wires to every home, but do we really need four electricity companies serving every home?

The question is not who installs the wire, but who provides the service. Provocative, at least.

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Updated Vocaloid Entry [9:27 am]

For those interested, I’ve updated the Vocaloid entry below with the Slashdot link, which also points to some rather eerie MP3 demos of the technology.

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Lessig at NYU [9:11 am]

[via A blog doesn't need a clever name] A blog entry, Lawrence Lessig on Free Culture, at NYU, describing Larry Lessig’s talk at NYU’s Colloquium in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory (his paper/excerpt: Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity)

It doesn’t seem this way to many. The battles around copyright and the Internet seem remote to most. To the few who follow them, they seem mainly about a much simpler brace of questions — whether “piracy” will be permitted, and whether “property” will be protected. The war that has been waged against the technologies of the Internet — what Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) President Jack Valenti calls his “own terrorist war” — has been framed as a battle about the rule of law, and respect for property. To know which side to take in this war, most think that we need only decide whether we’re for property, or against it.

If those really were the choices, then I would be with Jack Valenti and the content industry. I too am a believer in property, and especially in the importance of what Mr. Valenti nicely calls “creative property.” I believe that “piracy” is wrong, and that the law, properly tuned, should punish “piracy,” whether on or off the Internet.

But those simple beliefs mask a much more fundamental question and much more dramatic change. My fear is that unless we come to see this change, the war to rid the world of Internet pirates will also rid our culture of values that have been integral to our tradition from the start.

[...] Yet the law’s response to the Internet, when tied to changes in the technology of the Internet itself, have massively increased the effective regulation of creativity in America. To build upon or critique the culture around us one must ask, Oliver Twist like, for permission first. Permission, of course, is often granted. But it is not often granted to the critical, or the independent. We have built a kind of cultural nobility; those within the noble class live easily; those outside it, don’t. But nobility of any form is alien to our tradition.

Derek points out that there’s more Lessig at the NYU site: Chapter 10: Property and Afterword. He also cites Larry’s blog entry, which is a shock only in that I’ve been unable to get through to it since it was Slashdotted yesterday.

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Donna on Diebold [8:57 am]

Kucinich Calls for Hearing on Diebold DMCA Abuse — citing Kucinich’s letter to the Judiciary Committee

Diebold’s actions abuse the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, using copyright to suppress speech rather than fulfill the Constitution’s purpose for copyright, to “promote progress.” These abuses raise a fundamental conflict with the First Amendment, diminishing the Internet’s tremendous value as a most free medium of expression. Diebold’s actions are representative of a growing body of abuses through which large and powerful parties unfairly intimidate ISPs to remove information those parties do not like. In other examples, the claims are not really about copyright, but about not showing the parties in a negative light, or not allowing consumers to compare prices, or quieting religious critics. Powerful parties should not be permitted to misuse copyright as a tool for limiting bad press and barring access to legitimate consumer information.

See Kucinich’s website where he has added a section on voting

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Jon Johansen Announces Another DRM Crack? [7:45 am]

The Register: DVD Jon unlocks iTunes’ locked music; Slashdot points out that it’s only a start: Apple’s iTunes DRM Cracked?

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Online Music A No-Win? [7:42 am]

From The Register: DRM music goldrush is a race for losers - mp3.com founder

Apple is leading a race of lemmings into the zero-profit business of closed music downloads, says the founder of MP3.com, Michael Robertson.

“It seems kind of crazy to me, the economics don’t make sense,” Robertson told us Thursday. “Why are all these guys like Microsoft and Wal-Mart rushing into a business where the industry leader says ‘we cannot make money with the contracts that we have’?”

“This is a race where the winner gets shot in the head.”

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A Little Register Humor [7:37 am]

Numbers to be patentable

In a move that has surprised naïve observers, the US Patent Office has announced that from now on it will consider ‘serious’ applications to patent specific integer numbers.

“It was the logical next step,” grey-haired and twinkling Patent Laureate Mr J Dall Swanhuffer twinkled to a shocked press conference today.

[...] “Of course there has been irresponsible campaigning and scaremongering among left-wing pressure groups with an anti-big business bias. We expected this and we are ready for it. These are the same forces at work that were against software patents granted for stunningly obvious and general techniques. In truth one cannot but feel sorry for any confused individual who vainly tries to hold up the inevitable and just progress of patent law.

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