February 20, 2004

Something I Missed While Out of Town [7:03 pm]

A lecture by Larry Lessig in Cambridge: Rip, Mix, and Burn: Lessig’s Case for Building a Free Culture

In a low-lit auditorium at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig leaned against the podium and clicked a remote control. Above him, a video with Peanuts cartoons filled the screen—Linus sawed on a cello as a familiar chord progressions began. My baby don’t mess around/ Because she loves me so/ And this I know for sure… The audience shifted uncomfortably. OutKast? Was he really playing OutKast in the middle of a speech at Radcliffe? The characters danced in syncopation with the overlaid music, and by the time the Hey Ya! chorus started, disbelief had given way to laughter. The cartoon was brilliant, bizarre, creative, and funny.

And illegal, Lessig added.

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To Lighten the Mood [6:27 pm]

To cheer yourself up after reading about the 321 Studios decision below, read this posting from Bag and Baggage [via How Appealing]: Reason No. 8,372 Appellate Oral Argument Is The Best Part Of The Legal Process

Would have loved to have seen Judge Posner’s face!

Update: Crescat Sententia (Latin for something like "an opinion might be emerging" — you can try to figure it out) has a key followup — Bra and Panties

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Yikes! Summary Judgment in 321 Case [5:28 pm]

MPAA Prevails in DVD Copying Suit

Hollywood’s major movie studios have won a widely-watched copyright lawsuit against the maker of computer software that allows users to make copies of DVDs, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America said on Friday.

A federal judge in U.S. District Court in San Francisco issued a summary judgment in favor of the movie studios’ and their representative, The Motion Picture Association, and against privately held 321 Studios, the spokeswoman said.

From the EFF site (dated yesterday?): Order Granting Defendents’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Resolving Related Motions — Judge Susan Illston

Further, this Court enjoins plaintiff 321 Studios from manufacturing, distributing, or otherwise trafficking in any type of DVD circumvention software. This injunction shall take effect seven days from the issuance of this order.

Update: News.com’s article — Judge: Stop selling DVD copying software

Also, the EFF’s press release: Court Endorses Ban on DVD Copy Technology

Update: Interestingly, Slashdot rejected my story submission yesterday, but CowboyNeal’s posting is there now: MPAA Prevails Against 321 Studios’ DVD X Copy

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Liebowitz Paper Making the Rounds Again [3:01 pm]

With its posting at the Brookings WWW site, we may see more of a reaction than we did when this first came up in January (Another Look at Eldred Arguments — in re Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh in on Copyright: The Role of Theory, Empirics, and Network Effects)

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CNEt’s Music Week In Review [2:42 pm]

The beat goes on for Net music

New fronts opened in the Internet music wars this week, with a fresh round of lawsuits–including one filed against the recording industry–and a low-tech hack of an iTunes song giveaway.

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Austrialian Search Orders On Trial [2:41 pm]

Music industry’s search orders on trial

Two weeks ago, Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) obtained Anton Pillar orders encompassing 12 premises across Australia, which allowed it to search for and seize material on the premises it believed may contain evidence of copyright infringement. The following week, lawyers for Sharman Networks told Justice Murray Wilcox that they would challenge the orders on the grounds that not all appropriate evidence was presented during the discovery phase of the orders.

Sharman Networks, the parent company of the popular Kazaa software, is arguing that the case the Australian record labels bought is substantially the same case currently being fought in the United States and should therefore be set aside or deferred until the U.S. case is finished. Lawyers for the record labels argued that the two cases were distinct and independent. [...]

Also from Wired News: Aussie Copyright Case Grinds On

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In Case You Missed It [2:39 pm]

TiVo’s watching you. But who’s watching TiVo?

Whaddaya know? Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” turned out to be the most popular TiVo moment during last month’s Super Bowl game.

We now know this, because TiVo was watching many of you, while you were watching TiVo.

While everybody from Michael Powell to the Wild Man of Borneo weighed in on the debate over the propriety of Jackson’s titillating moment on stage, some eager beaver at TiVo spotted an opportunity for free and easy publicity. But after publishing that information, TiVo was instead forced into damage control, as the Jackson data disclosure invited a round of knee-jerk breast-beating.

[...] There’s a more pressing question deserving of examination. TiVo’s big eye in the sky lets the company track what’s been watched as well as the number of times particular moments get replayed. Even though TiVo says it strips out any information that might otherwise get traced back to an individual viewer, that’s still a fine line to straddle. The company swears that no demographic information ever gets relayed, but we’re nonetheless left hoping that the folks who make that pledge live up to their word.

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Speaking of Digital Photography [1:56 pm]

Here’s the kind of thing I guess we’re all going to have to get used to as the election season gets going: Doctored Kerry photo brings anger, threat of suit: Software, Net make it easy to warp reality

The photographer who snapped John Kerry attending a 1971 anti-war rally says he and his photo agency intend to track down — and possibly sue — whoever doctored and circulated a photo that made it appear that the then 27-year-old Vietnam veteran was appearing alongside actress Jane Fonda.

Ken Light, now a UC Berkeley professor of journalism ethics, says he photographed Kerry at an anti-war rally in Mineola, N.Y., on June 13, 1971. The decorated Vietnam veteran was preparing to give a speech at the rally — but Fonda was never at the event.

Light’s photo gained prominence when someone took it and merged the shot of the now Democratic presidential front-runner with another separate photo of Fonda — one taken by photographer Owen Franken as the actress spoke to a 1972 rally in Miami Beach, Fla.

The fabricated Kerry-Fonda photo was circulated with an identifying logo of the Associated Press and became the subject of talk show fodder after it was placed on many Web sites as evidence of Kerry’s “anti-American” activities after his war service.

[...] A spokesman for Light’s photo agency, Corbis, said its photographers’ work and copyrights are treated seriously.

The agency will “investigate this matter and take appropriate action as necessary,” the spokesman said.

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Lessig in FT on FCC, Comcast and Content [10:41 am]

Internet providers must not dictate content [pdf]

The danger in a marriage between Disney and Comcast is that this right- thinking company will be bent in the way other right-thinking companies have been bent before. Disney’s views today are the same as AOL’s before it bought a content and cable company (Time Warner). They are the same as AT&T’s before it started buying cable companies.

But both AOL and AT&T quickly changed their views of network neutrality once their marriages were announced. And the fear of many is that the same fate could befall the mouse.

Enter the second important announcement made last week. In a speech in Boulder, Colorado, Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, at last signalled his position in the network neutrality debate. While Mr Powell did not go as far as some had hoped, he certainly removed the uncertainty that has clouded the debate so far.

He found the claims that networks were being biased when it came to providing content unconvincing, but made it clear that strong evidence would force the government to respond. He offered “the private sector a clear road map by which it can avoid future regulation”.

Under his plan, networks would guarantee consumers access to the content and applications of their choice, allow consumers to connect devices to the network that do no harm, and provide meaningful information about the service plans that they offer.

Put differently, if the network owners preserve “internet freedom” they can avoid FCC regulation. The chairman likes the neutral internet and intends to ensure it survives.

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The Pepsi Cap Scam Hits CNet [10:34 am]

Low-tech ‘hack’ takes fizz out of Pepsi-iTunes promo (see this earlier FurdLog posting)

iTunes fans have “hacked” a high-profile Pepsi promotion aimed at giving away 100 million songs through special codes marked on the underside of bottle caps. The codes can be entered on the iTunes site to download a single for free. One in three bottles is a winner, but it turns out that the markings can be read without removing the cap.

CNET News.com confirmed that it is not only possible to pick out winning bottles in advance; careful scrutiny can reveal the full 10-digit redemption code, meaning no purchase is required to get a free iTunes single courtesy of Pepsi.

JoHo points to a related discussion of Diebold voting machines: Tilting Diebold Voting Machines 25 Degrees Reveals 1 in 3 Are Rigged

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Epstein on Liberty, Property and Copyright [9:46 am]

Via Legal Theory Blog: Liberty versus Property? Cracks in the Foundation of Copyright Law. From the Conclusion:

In sum, when we look at the situation with respect to copyright, it seems clear that the peculiar nature of the rights in question justify rules that allow for limited duration and fair use, and perhaps some other restrictions. But as such they do not alter the basic tension that exists between liberty and property in the case of labor or natural resources. It is easy to conclude that the foundations of intellectual property law in general and copyright in particular are shaky if it is assumed that the foundations for individual autonomy and private property are secure on some unadorned version of natural law theory that relies more on self-evidence and less on functional advantage. But for years now, my own private campaign has been to insist that the strength of the natural law theories rested on their implicit utilitarian (broadly conceived) foundations, which require some empirical evaluation of why given institutions promote human flourishing and through it general social welfare. Under those tests all legal rules are imperfect adjustments and tradeoffs between competing goods. Quite simply, any system of private property imposes heavy costs of exclusion. However, these costs can only be eliminated by adopting some system of collective ownership that for its part imposes heavy costs of governance. The only choice that we have is to pick the lesser of two evils. There is no magic solution for liberty or property that creates benefits without dislocations. But once we recognize that trade-offs are an inescapable feature of social activity, we could conclude that a sensible system of copyright is not such a bad trade-off after all.

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TPP Weblog [8:37 am]

A little birdie told me that the TPP students have started a weblog of their own: Tech Policy

Technology Policy

Welcome to the TechPolicy weblog. This weblog is a forum for some grad students in MIT’s Technology and Policy program to share their views on today’s pressing technology related issues.

Experts on energy, IT, telecom, automotive, defense, environment will post news and analysis of current issues. This is meant to be an forum of open discusion and will evolve as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

Of course, they also seem to have set up shop over at the Harvard Weblogs space, so I’m not exactly sure where they’ll be in the future.

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Paranoia XP [8:16 am]

Check it out: Paranoia Returns [via Ernest]

Eric Goldberg who since 1984 has become one of the most respected figures in the online and mobile gaming industries, said, “For those who know the game, Paranoia has settled into the deep hindbrain. Catch phrases like ‘The Computer is Your Friend,’ ‘Commies are Everywhere,’ and ‘Happiness is Mandatory’ come to mind at the most socially awkward moments. Back in the 80s, a concern with the social implications of technology was the purview of a geeky few; today, it’s of fundamental importance to everyone. Games, too, are now a huge part of the vernacular. I believe Paranoia XP will be of considerable interest not merely to the audience of tabletop roleplaying gamers but also to anyone interested in and concerned with the social-technological issues of today-the attempt to control IP, to police the Internet, to suppress dissent. We’re living Paranoia. By the way–what a bunch of wimps. I’ll have the pale ale.”

[...] Player: Is PARANOIA XP still about living in an underground city of the future ruled by an insane Computer?

The Computer: The Computer is not “insane.” Traitors lurk everywhere. In the old days, The Computer’s loyal Troubleshooters only worried about Commie subversion, secret society sabotage, unregistered mutants, robot liberators, feuding High Programmers, tainted drugs, exploding food vats, nuclear hand grenades, and the occasional giant atomic cockroach. How naive!

Now your clone family faces not only these persistent threats, but a new host of looming dangers such as viral licenses, closed-source genetic retooling, identity rentals, subconscious post-hypnotic brain-spam, Infrared-market WMD auction sites, and filesharing.

Player: Filesharing?

The Computer: Filesharing is Communism! Fortunately, The Computer’s loyal Central Processing service firms have devised many innovative digital-rights management methods to shield you from temptation. The most promising methods manage your actual physical digits. Would you care to get your fingerprints remapped?

Player: Uh… maybe later. Is this new PARANOIA XP anything like the game’s earlier editions?

The Computer: PARANOIA XP combines the scary-funny, sardonic tone of PARANOIA’s first edition (1984) with the fast-playing, rules-light approach of the second edition (1987).

I think we’re all bozos on this bussee also this……

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Dave Weinberger on the "Echo Chamber" [7:55 am]

From Salon: Is there an echo in here?

This is a myth just waiting to concretize into common wisdom. For example, Philip Gourevitch, in the New Yorker, writes: “[Dean's] following, forged largely in cyberspace through online communities, had the quality of a political Internet bubble: insular and sustained by collective belief rather than by any objective reality.”

Before we use the failure of the Dean campaign to prove that the Internet routinely creates echo chambers, we’d better be sure that the concept of an echo chamber even makes sense, for the focus on this meme simultaneously distorts the value of the Internet and diverts attention from the truly dangerous echo chambers in our society.

[...] We can argue later about why this idea has emerged at this historical moment. Meanwhile, the meme’s spread distracts us from the true echo chamber: The constellation of media, especially in the United States.

The Internet as a whole presents the broadest range of opinion, belief, feeling and creativity in the history of civilization. If you are not on the Net, you are limited to a diminishing selection of outlets expressing a diminishing range of views. Stories are picked up and replayed. Master narratives determine, with the rigidity of a machine for extruding plastic, the basic way of presenting those ideas.

No, if you want to see a real echo chamber, open up your daily newspaper or turn on your TV. There you’ll find a narrow, self-reinforcing set of views. The fact that these media explicitly present themselves as a forum for objective truth, open to all ideas, makes them far more pernicious than some site designed to let people examine the 8,000 ways Hillary is a bitch or to let fans rage about how much better Spike was on “Buffy” than he’ll ever be on “Angel.” And if you want to see the apotheosis of the echo chamber — the echo echoing itself so perfectly that it comes perilously close to achieving the 60-cycle om of the empty mind — consider a president who, rather than read the newspaper, is happy to have his aides pick and choose what headlines he learns more about, because he believes them to be “objective.”

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Grey Album Protest Planned [6:59 am]

Music fans beg to buy music

Anti-RIAA activists at Downhill Battle are leading the charge for what they call “Grey Tuesday.” The Web site along with other as yet unnamed coconspirators will offer downloads of DJ Danger Mouse’s Grey Album for 24 hours. The groups pitch this as a protest against EMI’s attempts to stifle distribution of the album, which combines Jay-Z’s the Black Album and the Beatles’ White Album.

See earlier post as well as TLA’s summary. More importantly, see the list of sites that are planning to post the album. On February 24th, the hope is that you’ll download early and download often.

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The Check’s In The Mail? [6:51 am]

From today’s Boston Globe: City & Region: New England in Brief (from page B2 of the paper)

Libraries to get a musical windfall

The music selection at libraries across Massachusetts is about to get better. As part of a $143 million national settlement of a lawsuit over CD prices, the 488 public libraries in Massachusetts will be receiving 124,000 music discs — more than 1,900 titles — this spring. In addition, 68,000 consumers who submitted claims for refunds should be seeing checks for almost $14 each in their mailboxes in the coming week, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said. Massachusetts was one of 40 states that agreed to settle the lawsuit, which accused major record companies and large music retailers of conspiring to set minimum prices on music. Under the settlement, 3.5 million people nationwide are to receive checks, and schools are to receive $75.7 million worth of CDs. (AP)

I’ll let you know if my check arrives……

Update: Slashdot discussion — Price-Fixing Settlement Checks in the Mail. The consensus there seems split between using the money to buy CD-Rs or to make a donation to the EFF.

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