Congress Giveth and Congress Taketh Away

It’s not all copyright, y’ know — sweeping language can get written into all sorts of legislation.

Congress Threatens Live Music, Fans And Music Industry Fight Back

Congress is considering two bills that would hold bands, DJs, bartenders, promoters, venue owners, radio stations and others liable if a patron uses drugs at a nightclub or concert. Legal experts and business owners warn the legislation would devastate the music industry and could spell the end of live music, especially large music festivals like South by Southwest and Burning Man. Music fans, bar and nightclub owners, and music promoters are launching a national campaign to defeat the legislation.

[…] The Ecstasy Awareness Act (H.R. 2962) would throw anyone in jail who “profits monetarily from a rave or similar electronic dance event knowing or having reason to know” some event-goers may use drugs at the event. Similarly, Section 305 of the CLEAN-UP Act (H.R. 834) makes it a federal crime – punishable by up to nine years in prison – to promote “any rave, dance, music, or other entertainment event, that takes place under circumstances where the promoter knows or reasonably ought to know that a controlled substance will be used or distributed.”

[…] In response to both bills, the Drug Policy Alliance declared April 24th a “Day and Night of Outrage” over the legislation and launched a website,, to coordinate the work of thousands of concerns music fans and business owners. […]

“The government can’t even keep drugs out of its own schools and prisons, yet it is seeking to punish business owners that can’t stop their patrons from using drugs,” said Bill Piper. “If these bills become law, innocent business owners could go to jail and music fans may be unable to see their favorite artist live. That’s why business owners and music fans are organizing to protect live music.”

There Should Be Quite A Back-Story On This Release

Like — how record companies use P2P data to target CD sales, maybe? ARIA Board Defends Freeloading Practice (who picked this title?) (See below — I thought I had seen this before!)

Recent attempts to try and link illegal downloading and file sharing with the legal distribution of CDs in the record industry are absurd.

Given the role and activities of ARIA, It is necessary for its management to be across music releases and in this regard the CEO of ARIA is provided from time to time with CDs from member companies. ARIA rejects any attempt to cast a shadow over the ARIA management for receiving promotional CDs in the course of their work at ARIA which includes the production of the ARIA Awards and weekly music charts.

It is noteworthy that this attack is occurring at a time – when major litigation in Australia is taking place over music file sharing and illegal downloading, as well as a review of the digital agenda provisions of the Copyright Act is being conducted.

The attempt to link the subject matter of that court action with lawful distribution of CDs, in this case to the ARIA office, is flawed.

Source: ARIA Board


Taking the PC Out Of Content Distribution

All together now: "closed architecture" — Japanese CE firms launch Any Music

f music devices are going to have to become intelligent in order to run a DRM protection scheme, then they might just as well run a communications stack and browser and communicate directly with music web sites. Why put music through a PC every time?

And that’s just what Sony, Sharp, Kenwood, Pioneer, Onkyo, D&M Holdings, JVC and Yamaha think. This makes a lot of sense for companies that do not want to cede control over music to PC-oriented companies like Microsoft and Intel.

So in February all these companies got together to work out the technical issues involved and formed a company called Any Music. They plan to launch their services on 20 May and announced their plans this week. They have already formulated a set of common specifications for them all to manufacture to.

The Any Music site is all in Japanese, but see this Sharp press release: Establishment of “Any Music Inc.” – Operational Company for Music Distribution Service which Starts from May 20, 2004; MI2N’s copy

IBM’s DRM Proposal

IBM makes late DRM bid

xCP is a one-way process for dropping not one, but multiple layers of encryption keys onto intelligent media playing devices in the home, be they set-tops, TiVos or other DVRs, Windows machines, MP3 players, digital TVs or DVD players. If the devices have a disk drive then they act as servers for the encryption keys and control the rights of the other, tethered devices.

The devices don’t get a say in which encryption key they sign up for, so this is a much easier scheme to bring into a home than previous PKI systems that have segregated public and private keys and which require a two way communication process to set them up. Now when a piece of film or music is copied from a commercial server, the keys can be automatically calculated and set working. When the content is copied, the keys are copied, until the content runs out of allocated rights.

There is one encryption key for all the devices to talk to each other and make content copies to one another, and another encryption key for every piece of media that can be used across all of the devices on the network. The second encryption key is decoded by the first and used to play music or film.

There is complex algorithmic calculation, which can be regularly re-calibrated when the network changes, and none of the keys, those protecting the media or those used for the devices to talk to each other, ever need to be known by a content purchaser, who just needs to what rights they have bought.

A November 2004 ACM paper: eXtensible Content Protection by Florian Pestoni and Clemens Drews

Xbox mods OK in Spain – for now

Spanish judge rules X-Box mods ‘legal’

A Spanish judge has ruled that modifications to games consoles to allow them to play DVDs and games from other countries “are not illegal”.

[…] The judge noted that such modifications “might constitute a crime against the intellectual property of the equipment manufacturers”, but he concluded that there is a legal loophole in the “Ley de Propiedad Intelectual” (Intellectual Property Law) which means that they are, by default, legal.

The loophole exists in article 270 of the penal code, which mentions “the manufacture, distribution or possession of means to crack computer programme security codes”. It does not, however, cover “components of video games players nor, in general, equipment designed to run image or sound software”.

See also: Xbox 2 innards laid bare on web

Plus ça change….

Once again, technology is not the complete solution: Maujempur Journal: On New Voting Machine, the Same Old Fraud

In less than 30 minutes on Monday morning, workers from a local political party, which political analysts say has kept Bihar’s 100 million people mired in poverty, seized control of the voting machine. An old India abruptly reappeared, one that shows that the country still faces pitfalls as it pursues its dream of becoming a global economic and political power.

In what appeared to be a carefully planned series of events, two small bombs exploded near the polling place and party workers threatened the five policemen guarding the booth and then brazenly took control of it. As poll workers and policemen averted their eyes, young party workers pushed the button for their party on the electronic voting machine over and over again, casting vote after fraudulent vote.

The men had carried out a new version of a storied Indian electoral trick: “booth capturing,” in which armed thugs hired by political parties seize control of a polling place and stuff ballot boxes. The events on Monday suggest that like the rest of India, the country’s political operatives are becoming more businesslike and more technologically savvy.

“Now they don’t say it is booth capturing,” said Saadat Hasan Mintu, Bihar’s assistant chief electoral officer. “It is booth management.”

Broadband initiatives

Everywhere you turn today, there’s a discussion of the Bush administration’s plans to get universal broadband by 2007 (Bush: Broadband for the people by 2007; Senate Votes to Consider Ban on Taxes on Net Access). I like this discussion of the underlying issues: Broadband users, watch your wallets

In Washington, choosing words carefully is important. Every sentence uttered by the president can cause tectonic shifts in thinking and actions. The president made an incredibly simple, feel-good statement about broadband: “We ought to have a universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007, and then we ought to make sure, as soon as possible thereafter, consumers have got plenty of choices, when it comes to purchasing the broadband carrier.”

Those simple words will cause lots of action, not all of it positive.

[…] This supposedly market-oriented administration must find a way to fund its call for “universal affordable access.” The tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars for building the network and providing the service do not come free, even with this record-setting, deficit-spending administration.

Where will it come from? The current slush funds used to provide narrowband service subsidies are a terrific example of what not to do. […]

While there may be a case for providing vouchers for low-income households that would not otherwise be able to afford broadband service, the history of telecommunications subsidies shows that the vast majority of money will go to rural states and come from urban areas. This means that low-income residents of San Jose, Harlem and Washington, D.C., will not be the recipients of the majority of subsidy dollars. Instead, they will be asked to pay higher prices to subsidize high-cost rural residents, many of whom can much more easily afford to pay for broadband service.

Higher prices will frustrate the broadband desires of many low-income folks who are likely to be more price sensitive than the few higher-income rural residents they would subsidize. If our high-tech economy really wants a broadband nation, companies should fight tooth and nail against the current inefficient subsidy system and instead work to ensure that cable, digital subscriber line, wireless and satellite services–in addition to power companies and anyone else–have the ability to provide competitive service without the shackles of the narrowband subsidy system.

[…] Much better leadership would include outlining a clear and specific plan to ensure to broadband service provider competition and then to let the market provide the services Americans want. Words matter a lot in Washington. We need a president who can articulate a plan–not a simplistic vision that will get twisted and end up frustrating broadband deployment.

Who’s Yer Daddy?

Father of the IPod, from the Cult of Mac Blog

Sunday’s New York Times feature on Apple, Steve Jobs and the iPod touches on one of the weirdest open secrets in Silicon Valley: The unacknowledged father of the iPod is engineer Tony Fadell.

According to the Times, “(The iPod) was put together starting in 2001 by hardware designers led by Tony Fadell, a young engineer who had worked at the Apple spinoff General Magic, at Philips Electronics and briefly at RealNetworks, led by Rob Glaser, who has developed the Rhapsody music service.