June 13, 2004

New Leibowitz Paper on P2P [9:20 pm]

Derek points to Stan Leibowitz’ new paper on the effects of P2P on the record industry: Peer-to-peer networks: Creative Destruction or just Plain Destruction?

All of the empirical works to date suffer from various imperfections. Nevertheless, the majority of studies find results supportive of the thesis that file-sharing is causing harm. As more evidence accumulates, both in the world at large and in the pages of academic publications we can expect to learn more about the impacts of file-sharing. The political arena is calling for an answer now, however, and is impatient to wait for academics to reach unanimity, which academics almost never do anyway. If an answer is needed, the answer that would appear to have the greatest likelihood of being correct given our current state of knowledge, is that file-sharing hurts copyright owners.

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RIAA Ramps Up To Kill Digital Radio [12:19 pm]

One of several stories indicating the push is coming (see this June 8 entry): RIAA Moves In on Digital Radio

Digital radio broadcasts that bring CD-quality sound to the airwaves could lead to unfettered song copying if protections are not put in place, a recording-industry trade group warned on Friday.

Without copy protections, music fans could cherry-pick songs off the air and redistribute them over the Internet, further deepening the copyright woes of record labels, the Recording Industry Association of America said.

Of course, under the Audio Home Recording Act, we already have "unfettered song copying," (digital or otherwise), at least for non-commercial use. Funny that they aren’t instead going to our lawmakers to ask that the compulsory license be changed in the case of digital radio — maybe they’re getting something out of radio broadcasting that they don’t want to lose?

How many times will we let a copyright claimant’s insistence on blunderbuss approaches to complex problems lead to the crippling of a new technology? We got fair use copying of radio broadcasts in exchange for crippling DAT under the AHRA — now we’re going to give that up too?

And, does the FCC really have jurisdiction to override the provisions of Title 17, Chap. 10, SubChap.D, Section 1008? Or is this going to be, once again, another set of sophistries around the argument that "fair use" does not mean that one must also preserve "access?"

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The NYTimes on eVoting [11:46 am]

Making Votes Count: Gambling on Voting

If election officials want to convince voters that electronic voting can be trusted, they should be willing to make it at least as secure as slot machines. To appreciate how poor the oversight on voting systems is, it’s useful to look at the way Nevada systematically ensures that electronic gambling machines in Las Vegas operate honestly and accurately. Electronic voting, by comparison, is rife with lax procedures, security risks and conflicts of interest.

[...] Election officials say their electronic voting systems are the very best. But the truth is, gamblers are getting the best technology, and voters are being given systems that are cheap and untrustworthy by comparison. There are many questions yet to be resolved about electronic voting, but one thing is clear: a vote for president should be at least as secure as a 25-cent bet in Las Vegas.

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