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February 27, 2004

Not What I Expected [9:03 pm]

When reading an article at Salon about the yanking of Howard Stern from some Clear Channel stations: Pulling the plug on Howard

What got Howard Stern pulled from six Clear Channel radio stations this week? The corporate line is that Howard is too raunchy for the radio giant. Clear Channel president John Hogan went up to the Hill and apologized to Congress for airing Howard’s filth on the great American airwaves.

[...] But some Salon readers and webloggers are wondering if Clear Channel getting religion about Howard has anything to do with Stern’s recent political change-of-heart. It was just recently that Stern started trashing President Bush, who he has strongly supported in the past. On the blog Music Angle Michael Fremer says: “On Tuesday, Stern took a strong stance against Bush, the Republican party and the strong stench of fascism and intolerance in the air when it comes to free speech and gay rights, among other things. John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel is a strong Bush supporter. When the war in Iraq began, Clear Channel organized rallys supporting the action and actually banned John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and anything by The B-52s. Hard to believe, but true. Stern has great sway over millions of listeners. His political stand is what got him thrown off Clear Channel’s network of stations, not his supposed ‘indecent’ remarks towards women and blacks. This is a sickening development.”

If you’ve missed Howard, Robin and friends recently, MarksFriggin.com helpfully paraphrases every Stern radio show for you.

Update: As I come late to this, I see that others have already responded to this suggestion as unlikely.

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Windows Media 9 Enters A DVD Spec [8:47 pm]

Microsoft on every DVD?

The steering committee for the DVD Forum on Friday announced provisional approval for Microsoft’s VC-9 and two other video technologies–H.264 and MPEG-2–as mandatory for the HD-DVD video specification for playback devices. VC-9 is the reference title for the underlying video decoding technology within Windows Media Video 9. The approval is subject to several conditions, including an update in 60 days of licensing terms and conditions.

The DVD Forum Steering Committee also approved a near-final version of the HD-DVD specifications for rewritable discs.

The provisional decision “ends months of speculation over whether Microsoft would be endorsed or not,” said Richard Doherty, the president of Envisioneering Group, a media consultancy. “It’s a good tailwind for Microsoft.”

Update: Slashdot — Microsoft Code in Every HD-DVD Player

Update: The RegisterDVD Forum mandates Microsoft for HD disc spec

Update: A review of the strategic implications in The Register - DVD Forum provokes HDD spec punch-up

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Woo-Hoo2! [5:02 pm]

From Donna with links to others: Bunner Acquitted in DeCSS Case-Again.

EFF’s copy of the decision: DVD Copy Control Association Inc. v. Andrew Bunner Something else to read this afternoon — but see the comments that Donna has already cited.

It is important to stress that our conclusion is based upon the appellate record filed in this court. It is not a final adjudication on the merits. The ultimate determination of trade secret status and misappropriation would be subject to proof to be presented at trial. (Whyte v. Schlage Lock Co., supra, 101 Cal.App.4th at p. 1453.)

IV. DISPOSITION

The order granting a preliminary injunction is reversed. Defendant Andrew Bunner shall recover his appellate costs.

Slashdot: DeCSS Trade Secret Case Comes to an End - Again; News.com — Court: DeCSS ban violated free speech

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Got My Check for $13.86 [4:54 pm]

From the CDMAP litigation:

February, 2004

Dear Massachusetts Music Purchaser:

As Attorney General for the State of Massachusetts, I am please to enclose payment for your claim in the settlement of the Compact Disc Minimum Advertised Price Antitrust Litigation. This lawsuit was brought by the Attorneys General of 43 states and three territories and by counsel for Private Class Plaintiffs on behalf of the puchasers of music CDs. In accordance with the terms of the court-approved settlement, payment is being made to music purchasers who filed a valid and timely claim.

Whether you filed your claim online at the settlement web site, www.MusicCDSettlement.com, or by mail, the attached payment instrument represents full payment of your portion of the Settlement. Please note that the attached payment instrument must be cashed by May 20, 2004.

It is a pleasure to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion and to return value to customers who purchased CDs while the challenged policies were in effect.

Tom Reilly

Attorney General of Massachusetts

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Eben Moglen at Harvard [2:32 pm]

The transcript of Eben Moglen’s presentation at Harvard for JOLT a couple of days ago is available at GrokLaw. While, as Jonathan Z says, it was a bookend to the earlier visit by Darl McBride of SCO, it’s also a fundamentally important look at the notions of Free Software. I won’t pretend that there’s a simple excerpt that summarizes it, but I will give you a taste in the hopes that you’ll give it a read:

The goal of the Free Software Movement is to enable people to understand, to learn from, to improve, to adapt, and to share the technology that increasingly runs every human life.

The fundamental belief in fairness here is not that it is fair that things should be free. It is that it is fair that we should be free and that our thoughts should be free, that we should be able to know as much about the world in which we live as possible, and that we should be as little as possible captive to other people’s knowledge, beyond the appeal to our own understanding and initiative.

[...] If you think about it, it sounds rather like a commitment to encourage the diffusion of science and the useful arts by promoting access to knowledge.

In short, the idea of the Free Software Movement is neither hostile to, nor in any sense at cross-purposes with, the 18th century ambition for the improvement of society and the human being through access to knowledge.

The copyrights clause in Article 1 Section 8 is only one of the many ways in which those rather less realistic than usually pictured founding parents of ours participated in the great 18th century belief in the perfectability of the world and of human life.

The copyrights clause is an particular legal embrace of the idea of perfectability through access to and the sharing of knowledge. We, however, the 21st century inheritors of that promise, live in a world in which there is some doubt as to whether property principles, strongly enforced, with their inevitable corollary of exclusion — this is mine, you cannot have it unless you pay me — whether property principles best further that shared goal of the perfectability of human life and society based around access to knowledge.

[...] We are, as it happens, driving out of business a firm called the Santa Cruz Operation [sic] - or SCO Ltd. That was not our intention. That’s a result of something called the creative destruction potential of capitalism, once upon a time identified by Joseph Schumpeter. We are doing a thing better at lower cost than it is presently being done by those people using other people’s money to do it. The result - celebrated everywhere that capitalism is actually believed in — is that existing firms are going to have to change their way of operation or leave the market. This is usually regarded as a positive outcome, associated with enormous welfare increases of which capitalism celebrates at every opportunity everywhere all the time in the hope that the few defects that capitalism may possess will be less prominently visible once that enormous benefit is carefully observed.

Slashdot discussion: Transcript of Eben Moglen’s Harvard Speech

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Blue Laser DVD Spec Approved/Not? [11:26 am]

Bigger capacity, R/W capability — and a mix of standards. *sigh* Plus ça change. At least this one is backward compatible; otherwise, 321 Studios might have suddenly gotten a new argument in the court of public opinion, anyway: DVD Forum ‘approves’ rewriteable HD-DVD spec

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321 Releases Revised Software [11:19 am]

DVD X Copy re-issued without ripper

DVD copying software developer 321 Studios has made good its pledge to offer ‘ripper-free’ versions of its DVD X Copy range of utilities.

The company announced its plan to strip the DeCSS-derived code out of its applications last week after US District Court judge Susan Illston ruled that the programs violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

321 Studios’ press release: 321 Studios Offers "Ripper-Free" Versions of Award-Winning DVDXCopy Software: Offering Complies with Injunction Order

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Slashdot on the EFF Music Licensing Proposal [10:45 am]

EFF’s New File-Sharing Scheme

A succint comment that points out the fact that this discussion has to go on at several levels and, more importantly, that the issue of control remains the great unspoken problem:

I won’t be surprised if the RIAA cold-shoulders it (Score:5, Insightful)

by e6003 (552415) on Friday February 27, @08:12AM (#8406972)

(http://slashdot.org/)

Considering their real problem with file sharing is not the loss of money but loss of control over music distribution, anything that tries to tackle their public complaint whilst not addresing their real beef is bound to be rejected. Kudos to the EFF for trying but I think this is still 12 to 24 months ahead of its time. Congressman Boucher and Congresswoman Lofgren to the white courtesy phone please…

The RIAA can’t publicly assert that control is what they’re worried about (because that’s the foundation of their current business model) and the rest of us are so uncomfortable with control that we don’t speak as carefully about it as we should when we try to talk about alternatives. How do we really want to speak about ownership and property?

Will the notion that ‘property right’ == ‘monopoly right’ survive this conflict? Of course, that’s not really the case even today, but some will tell you that monopoly is a part of the notion underlying the way that property is taught, so it’s a pretty deeply embedded meme.

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Pop Quiz: Internet Memes [8:22 am]

Do you get the punchline of today’s UserFriendly? How does that make you feel?

For those who don’t get it: Zero Wing Intro as Animated GIF; a spooky satirical GIF; the Flash movie; one of many histories; PDF of the Boston Globe article of the era

Update: And looking at that old Flash movie invites obvious contrast and comparison with the Grey Album controversy and the OutKast/Peanuts issues.

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"Echo Chamber" or "Back Alley?" [8:09 am]

What do you think? There have been several discussions around the argument that the Internet is a political "echo chamber," where like meets like and people can fool themselves into thinking that they are part of something substantial when they aren’t. But, then we also get this story: In Politics, the Web Is a Parallel World With Its Own Rules

The one-minute spot, introduced a week ago, did not appear on television, but on President Bush’s campaign Web site. And so a new bare-knuckled political use of the World Wide Web showed its head: the Internet attack ad.

When the Web was in its infancy, Internet utopians envisioned a political revolution, predicting that the new medium would engage and empower voters as never before. Much of what they envisioned has come to pass, with the Internet facilitating vigorous debate this year, most dramatically, giving Howard Dean’s campaign the ability to raise millions.

But part of the Web’s appeal has been its unbridled nature, and it is showing that it can act as a back alley — where punches can be thrown and things can be said that might be deemed out of place, even if just at a particular moment, in the full light of the mainstream media.

“The principals themselves feel like they can act out there in a way that they wouldn’t dare to do in the mainstream media,’” said Jonathan Zittrain, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

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