Hear, hear!!

You need to read Cory Doctorow on the market and DRM — NOW: Protect your investment: buy open

There’s no excerpting it, but here’s something that I hope will entice you to go read the whole thing:

And this is the problem with Scoble’s reasoning. We have a world today where we can buy CDs, we can download DRM-music, we can download non-DRM music from legit services, we can download “pirate” music from various services, and we can sometimes defeat DRM using off-the-shelf apps for Linux (which has a CD recovery tool that handily defeats CD DRM), the Mac (with tools like AudioHijack that make it easy to convert DRM music to MP3s or other open formats) and Windows (I assume, since I don’t use Windows, but as Scoble points out, there’s lots of Windows software out there.).

In this world where we have consumer choices to make, Scoble argues that our best buy is to pick the lock-in company that will have the largest number of licensees.

That’s just about the worst choice you can make.

Some More Comments on Declan’s Look At Dean

As followup to this morning’s posting, see Donna’s and especially Larry’s comments.

Ed Felten has even more to say, even if he doesn’t want to get political, and jumps directly into an explanation of why "technology & policy" is such a crucial perspective to develop: Dean’s Smart-Card Speech

The fact is that there is a deep disconnect between the different sections of Dean’s speech. It’s hard to reconcile the privacy-is-paramount part of the speech with the smartcards-everywhere part. At least, it’s hard to reconcile them if you really understand the technology. Dean makes a compelling argument that computer security is important, and he makes an equally compelling argument in favor of preserving privacy. But how can we have both? Enter the smartcard as deus ex machina. It sounds good, but unfortunately it’s not a technically sound argument.

Now, nobody expects state governors to understand technology well enough to spot the technical flaws in Dean’s speech. Probably, nobody advising Dean at the time had the knowledge to notice the problem. That’s not good; but it hardly makes Dean unique.

Something Funny From Findlaw

Not funny "ha-ha;" funny odd. Today’s Entertainment Law summary from FindLaw included a reference to this somewhat old Marci Hamilton column: Why Suing College Students for Illegal Music Downloading Is the Right Thing To Do.

What makes it funny is to read it in parallel with the BusinessWeek article cited below (BW’s Take on the RIAA’s Latest). Of course, Marci wrote the column six months ago, and it may still be that, as she puts it:

Some have criticized the RIAA and others in the music industry for going after students. But I will argue that it is entirely right – both legally and morally – for them to do so.

It’s just that, as BusinessWeek suggests, it’s not working out to be the most effective strategy.

Blogging, Politics and the "Echo Chamber"

Ernest comments on Jack Balkin’s discussion of blogging, politics, etc. in Balkin on Sunstein, Blogging and Democracy.

I read Jack’s piece yesterday and saw it as a counterpoint to the discussion in the NYTimes on Sunday, as well as the Findlaw commentary of last week, both linked through this entry: Some Provocative Questions

Ernest agrees with Prof. Balkin’s optimism, and I agree that there are many reasons to hope for the best. But I do understand the notion of the "echo chamber" cited in the NYTimes article, and I would argue that there may very well be a need for something to keep from engendering the kind of isolation that can be experienced on the net.

I have some more that I want to say about this, but I am late for a meeting — let’s just say that there’s probably a need to distinguish between those who impart meaning through argument/conversation and those who do so through speech-making. While the Internet tools support both, I would guess that one leads to insularity and one to less of a conversational monoculture……..

BW’s Take on the RIAA’s Latest

Big Music’s Worst Move Yet [via e-mail from Lisa Langsdorf of Trylon Communications — !thanks!]

One has to admit: The RIAA sure is tenacious in pursuing its strategy. What it doesn’t seem to realize, though, is that it has already lost the war (see BW Online, 1/16/04, “Did Big Music Really Sink the Pirates?“). The recording industry’s hardball tactics have fueled a technological shift that’ll make it nearly impossible to pursue file swappers in the future.

How so? The culture of fear and loathing that the RIAA has created is starting to put encryption on the must-have list of every Joe and Jane Internet user. The results will be wide-ranging and will pose a threat to the movie industry, the software industry, and just about any other industry involved with the creation and sale of intellectual property.

[…] By ripping off the thin veil of anonymity and hitting hundreds of users for thousands of dollars per case in settlement costs, the RIAA has inspired the most tangible fear yet seen among Web users — something neither credit-card thieves, nor hackers, nor even the U.S. government has managed to inspire.

[…] In the end, large chunks of computing and the Internet will go behind a much stronger curtain of anonymity, and the pirates will remain untouchable underground — thanks to the RIAA’s misguided legal missiles.

XML Patents? Don’t You Trust Us?

Microsoft: XML patent moves are no big deal (See also Remember Microsoft’s “Embrace” of XML?)

Recent patent applications filed by Microsoft are routine moves and don’t reflect a change in the company’s position on Extensible Markup Language, according to a spokesman for the software maker.

[…] Microsoft spokesman Mark Martin said the company couldn’t comment on how the patents, if granted, might be applied or licensed. But he said such applications are standard moves for the company to protect its innovations and don’t affect its commitment to openly sharing the XML schemas used by Office.

“While the XML standard itself is royalty-free, nothing precludes a company from seeking patent protection for a specific software implementation that incorporates elements of XML,” Martin said. “The presence of this patent application…does nothing to change the commitment Microsoft made this past November when it announced the available of a royalty-free licensing program for our Office 2003 XML reference schemas.”

So, snafu — "situation normal — all fscked up"

A Little Summary on VoIP Regulation

Hey Michael Powell, you’re too late!

Financially strapped states like California are already exploring the possibility of taxing VoIP, especially since revenue streams from taxing PSTN phone calls will diminish, as VoIP services expand without contributing to the public coffers. Thus, there is political and economic pressure to impose some sort of tax-tariff paradigm, either at the state level or the federal level.

The federal courts are split on the issue. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on Oct. 6, 2003, classified cable operators as providing “telecommunications” services as defined in the Communications Act, when Internet access is involved. Thus, cable operators would be subject to FCC regulations that affect telecommunications companies.

Then on October 16, a federal district court judge in Minnesota ruled to the contrary and declared that Vonage, a VoIP service provider, is an information service provider. The court noted “Congress’s mandate that the Internet remain unfettered by regulation.”

With these two inconsistent court decisions, a vitally important policy debate has been stopped in its tracks, at least until the Supreme Court reverses one of these decisions–or until Congress decides to act.