May 20, 2004

IBM Makes A Move [9:12 pm]

InfoWorld: IBM seeks to force SCO’s hand in lawsuit — GrokLaw coverage: IBM Goes on the Offensive and Asks for Partial Summary Judgment Now; CNet: IBM asks for quick rejection of SCO claims

IBM has filed new documents in its legal dispute with Unix vendor The SCO Group, accusing SCO of having no evidence to back up its copyright infringement claims, and asking the judge to throw a major component of the case out of court.

“For more than a year, SCO has made far-reaching claims about its right to preclude IBM’s (and everyone else’s) Linux activities,” wrote IBM in documents filed with the United States District Court for the District of Utah on Tuesday. “Despite SCO’s grandiose descriptions of its alleged evidence of IBM’s infringement, SCO now effectively concedes that it has none.”

SCO has been unable to provide any evidence of copyright infringement during the discovery phase of the trial and the court should therefore render a summary judgement against SCO, IBM’s filings say.

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Another 321 Setback [9:06 pm]

New ban for DVD copying software

A New York federal judge has issued yet another sales ban against 321 Studios’ popular DVD-copying software, this time on behalf of copy-protection company Macrovision.

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120,000 Names on a List [6:22 pm]

Just think what it would mean to be on this list: Database Firm Listed 120,000 ‘Likely Terrorists’ (ACLU Press Release)

The company that runs the multistate MATRIX law enforcement database gave the U.S. government a list of 120,000 people who scored high on a computer profile it said was designed to identify likely terrorists, a civil liberties group said on Thursday.

[...] The ACLU has asked for a government investigation to determine who had access to the list of 120,000 people and how the information was used. It called the data-mining program a chilling invasion of privacy that allows police to investigate millions of law-abiding citizens without their knowledge.

“People on that list ought to be concerned,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s privacy and technology program. “Just being associated with a terrorist list is going to make people’s lives miserable.”

Law enforcement officials involved with the program have said the terrorist quotient was abandoned when MATRIX was developed. But the ACLU said the documents it received through freedom of information requests contained nothing to indicate that, and that the terrorist profiling feature was “a sort of central selling point of the program.”

The ACLU’s Feature on MATRIX ; the AP story from the NYTimes: Database Tagged 120,000 as Possible Terrorist Suspects; Wired News: Are You a Potential Terrorist?

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Some European Approaches [5:07 pm]

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Irony? The PSU Policies on Speech [3:05 pm]

In light of the information cited below, the PSU Student Guide to General University Policies and Rules (from Policies, Guidelines, and Laws) include this bit of irony:

1. POLICY STATEMENT ON FREE EXPRESSION AND DISRUPTION

a. As an academic community, The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the protection and preservation of the free search for truth; the freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech; and the freedom to hear, examine, and debate alternative theories, data, and views. These are fundamental rights, which must be practiced, protected, and promoted by the University.

b. It is essential in the University that channels of communication be open, effective, and accessible to all members of the academic community.

c. The University recognizes, respects and protects all peaceful, non-obstructive expressions of dissent, whether individual or collective, that are within the law, that are within University regulations and that do not interfere with the regular and essential operation of the University. The regular and essential operation of the University is construed to include, but is not limited to, the operation of its offices, classrooms, laboratories, and research facilities and the right of access to these and any other physical accommodations used in the performance of the teaching, research, and administrative functions and related adjunct activities of the University.

d. Disruption is an action or combination of actions by an individual or a group that unreasonably interferes with, hinders, obstructs, or prevents the regular and essential operation of the University or infringes upon the rights of others to freely participate in its programs and services.

e. It is the responsibility of University officials to initiate action to restrain or prohibit behavior that threatens the purposes or the property of the University or the rights, freedoms, privileges, and safety of the personnel of the academic community.

So, how to we get from this to a flat denial of server operation on the residential network?

More from Copyfight: Penn State v. Education II

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A Complete Educational Experience [2:30 pm]

Penn State: No Servers in Dorms [via LawGeek who has much more info here and here]

One of the most interesting parts of the day was a brief presentation by Russ Vaught, the Associate Vice Provost for IT at Penn State. He said that Penn State has a policy banning server software of all kinds from dormitory computers. No email servers; no web servers; no DNS servers; no chat servers; no servers of any kind. The policy is motivated by a fear that server software might be used to infringe copyrights.

This is a wrongheaded policy that undermines the basic educational mission of the university. As educators, we’re teaching our students to create, analyze, and disseminate ideas. We like nothing more than to see our students disseminating their ideas; and network servers are the greatest idea-disseminating technology ever invented. Keeping that technology away from our students is the last thing we should be doing.

Copyfight: Penn State v. Education? and Copyfighter’s Musings: More Copyright v. the University

Update: Note that the Penn State Residence Hall Network Connection Agreement (at the ResCom copyrights page) contradicts the assertions of the PSU vice provost (but see below — thanks, Donna!):

Exhibit A

Acceptable Use Policy

Your Housing provided Network Connection uses resources that are shared with many other Penn State students, faculty, and staff. Moreover, your Network Connection provides access to the global Internet that is used by millions of other users. Each user benefits by being able to share resources and communicate almost effortlessly with other members of the user community. However, as with any community, the benefits and privileges available via your Network Connection, and the Internet in general, must be balanced with duties and responsibilities so that other users can also have a productive experience.

[...] While servers used in conjunction with your Network Connection are not explicitly prohibited, [emphasis added] it is important to note that servers may cause activity or generate bandwidth traffic that violates this Policy. Examples of these activities include, but are not limited to, running servers for mail, web, ftp, Napster, irc, dhcp, and multi-user interactive forums (such as gaming servers).

[...] Bandwidth Limitations (revised)

Bandwidth is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the capacity for data transfer of an electronic communication system.” All residence hall network connections share Internet bandwidth with each other and with the rest of the University system (computer labs and facilities, dial-in connections, and faculty/staff offices). In order to ensure that this shared resource is distributed equitably across the University, Housing and the Office of Telecommunications have implemented bandwidth restrictions that limit the amount of Internet resources that residence hall network connections can use.

[...] There are currently two individual bandwidth restrictions in place.

  • Each Network Connection is currently limited to uploading (sending) 1.5 gigabytes of data per week to sources outside of the psu.edu domain (to the Internet).

  • Each Network Connection is also currently limited to downloading (receiving) 1.5 gigabytes of data per week from sources outside of the psu.edu domain (from the Internet).

The current restrictions do not apply to data uploaded or downloaded to or from computers within the psu.edu domain–as long as the entire data path remains inside the psu.edu domain.

Update: Donna found this: Residence Hall Server Exception Request citing AD20

Penn State’s AD-20 policy on Computer and Network Security prohibits the use of servers within on-campus residence hall networks. Exceptions to allow servers in the Residence Hall network will only be granted in the rarest of circumstances. The need to operate a server must be in connection with academic coursework and endorsed in writing by a faculty member. The Vice Provost for Information Technology (or designee) must approve any request to operate a Residence Hall server.

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NY Declares Vonage A Telco [10:40 am]

New York classifies Vonage as phone company

Handing a setback to emerging Internet phone services, the New York State Public Service Commission on Wednesday ruled that Vonage Holdings is a telephone company and thus subject to state regulation.

In a statement announcing its decision, the agency sought to soften the blow, saying that it nevertheless hoped to apply “only minimal regulations to ensure that it does not interfere with the rapid, widespread deployment of new technologies.”

Slashdot: New York State Classifies Vonage As Phone Company

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www.bigbrother.gov [9:58 am]

Seattle Weekly: News: www.bigbrother.gov

In the past 20 months, Harris has become America’s leading critic of electronic voting (see “Black Box Backlash,” March 10). Her reporting on the problems with new computer voting machines has been a key component in a national, grassroots movement to safeguard voting. Her astounding discoveries have resulted in important studies by distinguished computer scientists. She has been leaked thousands of pages of internal memos from Diebold Election Systems, one of the country’s leading electronic voting companies. She is frequently cited by newspapers across the country and is a guest on national and local television and radio stations. Thousands of people visit her Web site and participate in its reader forums. Now, Harris claims, the government wants our names, forum messages, and computer addresses.

[...] Harris sounds the alarm about what the government wants her to turn over. “They want the logs of my Web site with all the forum messages and the IP [Internet protocol] addresses.” IP addresses are unique, numerical pointers to one or more computers on the Internet, making it possible to identify, or narrow the search for, a computer that has visited a given Web site. Writes Harris: “This has nothing to do with a VoteHere ‘hack’ investigation, and I have refused to turn it over.

“So, yesterday, they call me up and tell me they are going to subpoena me and put me in front of a grand jury. Well, let ’em. They still aren’t getting the list of members of blackboxvoting.org unless they seize my computer—which my attorney tells me might be what they had in mind.”

Slashdot discussion: Feds to Open BlackBoxVoting User Logs?

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RFIDs in Passports [9:43 am]

US lubes passports with RFID snake oil

Unfortunately, this would also make it easy for street criminals to scan crowds in search of naive foreigners likely to be in possession of decent quantities of cash, like Americans and Europeans, say. The RFID lobby has consistently neglected to address issues of personal safety when sensitive, identifying information is being broadcast secretly and indiscriminately by their nifty gizmos. Such electronic documents are a boon to street thugs looking for probably-rich tourists, and, more ominously, to sophisticated criminals and kidnappers.

It’s a minor blow to one’s privacy when a packet of razor blades is chipped so that anyone with a reader can learn what brand you happen to like. But chipping personal documents such as ID cards and passports is tantamount to chipping people. A document that reveals your name, age, address, and more, that can be read from a distance without your knowledge by anyone for any reason, is a clear threat to personal safety, and, obviously, any semblance of privacy.

There is nothing, beyond a few laws that get weaker every year, to prevent overzealous Feds and similar government busybodies from setting up surreptitious readers, and performing silent, automated ID stops that one knows nothing about.

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Napster UK launched [8:52 am]

Napster UK goes live

Napster stole a march on its rivals today by launching the UK incarnation of its online music service immediately - rather sooner than the “end of summer” timeframe it had previously provided.

See also: Rivals ‘welcome’ Napster to UK and OD2 halves music download prices

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The Onion’s Infographic for May 19 [8:50 am]

Infographic: Electronic Voting Machines

Computerized voting systems promise to simplify the polling process, but many Americans are worried about their accuracy. What are some of the machines’ potential problems?

  • Likelihood of electing robot president 83.6 percent greater with computerized voting

  • Button sequence for God mode (R2, L2, TRIANGLE, CIRCLE, R2, R2) gives user unlimited votes

  • [...] Recurring pop-up screen that reads, “People who voted for John Kerry also ordered these products from Amazon.com”

  • [...] Electronic voting system could potentially be tampered with, unlike paper ballots

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A Little More Convergence [8:33 am]

Linksys, Real take digital tunes to the living room

Wi-Fi equipment maker Linksys has teamed up with RealNetworks to offer customers the ability to shuttle music from a PC or other storage device to a home stereo.

The companies announced Wednesday that subscribers of Real’s Rhapsody music subscription service can use an audio component, called Linksys Media Link for Music, to access their online music from a stereo. The component uses the 802.11b wireless networking standard.

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An Infringement Case In The Making? [8:27 am]

At the Ready, Sheet Music Minus the Sheets

A pianist and composer who has played in David Bowie’s band since 1972, he fretted for decades over his ever expanding collection of sheet music, stored in dozens of heavy manila folders overflowing with heavily annotated sheets, many of them torn. But on one recent weekday morning, while fighting Los Angeles traffic on his way to an early “Tonight” show rehearsal, he actually had clean copies of nearly all of his hundreds of works in his car with him - in a thin, lightweight box about the size of a conductor’s score.

[...] In much the way that portable digital audio players have changed the way people consume tunes, tablets like the MusicPad are changing the way musicians use sheet music, which is so compact that it can be digitally stockpiled far more cost-effectively than MP3 audio files.

[...] “This is my sheet-music iPod,” he [Kurt Beter] said.

Beyond its usefulness for professional musicians, the MusicPad could help restore sheet music’s luster as a tool for amateur entertainment as Freehand Systems seeks to expand the amount of sheet music available online. Through the company’s newly purchased Web music store, sunhawk.com, MusicPad users can download and edit 35,000 newly digitized scores.

[...] Mr. Anton dismissed worries about the potential for trading illegal copies of music sold online.

“The Xerox machine has always been the arch enemy of the printed music world, and copying is impossible to police,” he said.

So far…..

Update: Lawmeme - A Music Patent Battle — Minus the Music Industry

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A IP Business Strategy [8:19 am]

Company Isn’t Afraid to Take Copycats to Court

What is a small business with a popular low-tech product to do when copycats try to steal its market?

For entrepreneurs Brian Le Gette and Ron L. Wilson II, the answer is simple: Sue, sue and sue. Not only do patent-infringement lawsuits keep the competition at bay, but they can provide a tidy revenue stream, said Mr. Le Gette and Mr. Wilson, the founders of 180s, a sporting goods maker.

[...] He said the company’s policy was to take action against any company, regardless of size. “You have to enforce this 100 percent of the time or you weaken your intellectual property over time,” Mr. Le Gette said.

[...] Peter Metcalf, chief executive of Black Diamond, a sporting goods maker in Salt Lake City, believes 180s’ brand of legal belligerence often masks product weakness. All those legal fees, he suggested, would be better spent on research.

“I think the best way to compete is, every three years, churn out the next generation of a product,” Mr. Metcalf said. The company’s defenders counter that in low-tech fields like sportswear, even the most ingenious designs are easy to replicate, and companies must be vigilant in protecting their investments in research and marketing.

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A Rise in the Price of Entry [8:03 am]

Lobbyists Feel the Tech Love

Overall, the technology and communications industries spent more than $111 million on lobbyists in the second half of 2003, according to data compiled by the campaign finance site PoliticalMoneyLine. The sector’s lobbying expenditures were exceeded by only two other industries: health care and financial services.

[...] In filings made public this month, a recurring theme involved use of copyright digital content. In particular, lobbyists are targeting two bills pending in the House of Representatives that could either rein in or strengthen the recording and motion picture industries’ ability to control access to copyright materials.

Among the most activist lobbyists on behalf of copyright owners is the Recording Industry Association of America, which has spent the last several years waging a fierce campaign to quash exchange of copyright materials on online file-trading networks.

[...] Lobbying expenditure records show several groups lining up opposite Hollywood and the record labels. Supporters of looser controls on use of digital content include the Consumer Electronics Association and 321 Studios, a beleaguered maker of DVD-copying software that is lobbying to promote passage of the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act.

“These are going to be major fights,” said Art Brodsky, spokesman for Public Knowledge. He expects much of the congressional wrangling will focus on defining fair use, the right of individuals to use excerpts of copyright works for educational purposes or make backups of their own copies.

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Music Business Models [7:08 am]

They play well together

Digital file-swapping may be a nightmare for the music industry, but digital gaming is proving to be a godsend. Gaming companies, eager to give their products some extra edginess and realism, now routinely include tunes from top bands in their games. And those bands are making out like bandits, as the extra exposure drives additional album sales.

Take Blink-182. The band’s single “Feeling This” made its debut on last year’s edition of Madden. It wasn’t officially released to radio until October, but never mind. “It ended up being the best-selling single in Blink’s history,” said Steve Schnur, EA’s executive of music and audio. Many radio stations copied the song from the Madden game CD and began playing it on the air before the single was released. “The record company, Geffen Records, was thrilled,” Schnur said.

Why? Because it can lead to sales. Electric Artists, a New York marketing and research firm, surveyed 1,000 games and found that 40 percent of those who heard a song they liked on a video game went out and bought the CD that contained the tune.

[...] Gaming companies pay for the rights to include pop music on their discs. But for the bands, there can be an even bigger payoff in name recognition and better album sales. In the case of Def Jam Fight for New York, the benefits extend to the entire Def Jam entertainment empire, which includes the Phat Farm clothing line and an HBO television series, “Def Poetry.”

“They listen to our records, they wear our clothes . . . they hear our poetry on HBO, and now they can play our game,” said Def Jam Music Group president and CEO Kevin Liles.

[...] Game companies once went hat in hand to musicians, looking for tunes for their games. These days it’s the musicians begging to be let in. EA’s Schnur says that Madden 2005’s 20 tunes will be chosen from 3,000 submissions.

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