July 2, 2004

Lessig in spiked-IT [2:27 pm]

[via NEWSgrist]

The failure of imagination is that we can’t really imagine how culture could be produced, other than concentrated industries producing and broadcasting. So anything that conflicts with that sounds extreme.

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GrokLaw Report: Dutch Withdraw S/W Patent Vote [2:20 pm]

Dutch Parliament Withdraws Support for Software Patents

The Dutch parliament is making news. It has just withdrawn its vote for the Directive on Software Patents. It’s a proof-of-concept vote, you might say, the first time such a move has been taken in the history of the EU, demonstrating that other countries are free to do the same, as we reported on June 22.

The FFII press release: Dutch Parliament forces Minister Brinkhorst to withdraw support for software patents directive

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Bloomberg on Movie Piracy [2:16 pm]

Time Warner, Disney, Viacom Lose $3.5 Billion to Film Pirates [via Copyfight]

Suits against individuals who download movies may be next, says Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of News Corp.’s Fox Filmed Entertainment. The Recording Industry Association of America, the record companies’ lobbying group, took that step against music downloaders last year.

“When someone steals a movie that cost you $120 million, that’s theft on a scale that’s unimaginable,” Gianopulos, 52, says. “It’s like stealing a hotel.”

Free-speech advocates, consumer electronics makers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and some members of the U.S. Congress are lining up against the studios. They charge Hollywood is trying to deny them an inalienable right: fair use. In simple terms, that’s the ability to duplicate copyrighted material for one’s own consumption, like taping “The Apprentice” TV show to watch later.

The Supreme Court guaranteed that right in 1984 when it ruled that Sony Corp. could not be held liable for copyright infringement by selling its Betamax video recorder.

The digital age has upended the fair-use concept. With file- sharing software like Kazaa, distributing a song to the world is as easy as loading it onto your computer to enjoy it yourself. Stopping the first act often means stopping the second.

Update: See this p2pnet posting — MPAA report farce

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Salon’s Andrew Leonard on Digital Music [11:51 am]

The digital music renaissance [via Techdirt] [update - Letters in response]

Thanks to computers and the Internet, I am now a better, happier and more productive consumer of music than I have ever been. I am exposed to more new music, I listen to more old music, and I purchase more of all kinds of music. I’ve spent more money buying music this year than in any of the previous 10 years.

The music industry hates this. By their every indication, record executives appear to be unhappy that I am more engaged with popular music. They are busy cooking up half-baked copy protection schemes that will prevent me from ripping my own newly purchased CDs. They are pushing legislation intended to criminalize all kinds of behavior and technology. Rather than make it easier for me to spend money, they would rather I return to the neolithic times when if I heard a song on the radio I liked, I would have to trudge to the record store and spend $18 on bloated filler. Why am I not excited?

[...] The laws of supply and demand have a way of sidestepping morality. Like it or not, the day is coming — soon — when your neighborhood flea market will, for some laughable fee, sell you 50,000 songs on a portable hard drive the size of your wallet.

The only way to stop this would be to create a music industry Big Brother with the power to look into each and every one of our computers and scour it clean of anything we don’t individually have a deed signed in blood for. This is, of course, exactly what the industry is trying to do.

related: Hang Onto Your iPods [via Current Copyright Readings]

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Kazaa trial date set [11:27 am]

Kazaa copyright trial set for November

On Thursday, Justice Murray Wilcox set a tentative trial date of Nov. 29 and said that directed discovery and affidavit proceedings should be completed by October. Wilcox also dismissed a range of procedural matters that had been raised by Sharman Networks regarding access to evidence seized from its offices and from affiliated parties earlier this year.

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DTV Liberation Front [11:10 am]

EFF: DTV Liberation Front (press release)

Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring future digital television (DTV) tuners to include “content protection” (aka DRM) technologies. Starting next year, all makers of HDTV receivers must build their devices to watch for a broadcast “flag” embedded in programs by copyright holders. [...]

The good news is this mandate doesn’t take effect for another year. We have until July 1, 2005, to buy, build, and sell fully-capable, non-flag-compliant HDTV receivers. Any receivers built now will “remain functional under a flag regime, allowing consumers to continue their use without the need for new or additional equipment.” [PDF] Any devices made this year can be re-sold in the future.

We at EFF want to do our part to advance the DTV transition — and the public’s rights to receive and manipulate DTV broadcasts with technologies they choose.

[...] Since machines you’ve already built will still work in high-def next year, we’d like to make HDTV tuner cards easy to use now, while they can still be manufactured. We want to help the MythTV project work seamlessly with the pcHDTV card so less technical users can beat the broadcast flag. We’ll also use these systems as benchmarks against which to compare the capabilities of post-flag HDTV devices. We also want to hear about Windows and Macintosh HDTV tuner cards, with an eye toward helping people make the most of existing pre-flag products.

In addition, if you’ve already seen devices limited by premature broadcast flag compliance, we’d like to hear about them — to warn others away and to track the limitations the flag rules impose.

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More Catching Up: The Canadian Decision [10:21 am]

Old news, I know — but I’m still catching up from being away (and afflicted with a summer cold, and some computer woes): Canadian ISPs not liable for content royalties

ISPs do not need to cough up royalties to copyright holders whose work is sent across the service providers’ networks, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled.

The verdict, backed unanimously, maintains that ISPs are “common carriers”, which means that responsibility for the transmission of content lies solely with whoever sends it and whoever ultimately receives it, not the intermediary network.

See also Canada Nixes Internet Royalties and the Canadian record companies’ spin: Canadian Record Industry Praises Supreme Court Decision Preventing Internet Piracy Havens

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Who Says MP3 Player Need To Play MP3s? [10:12 am]

Not Sony, anyway: Sony challenges Apple with 20GB music player

Both devices use Sony’s ATRAC3 music format. Using desktop software included with the devices, MP3, WAV and WMA files can be converted to ATRAC3 and played on the players.

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Hoist By His Own Petard [10:06 am]

‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ sparks file-sharing flare-up

“Moore has said on many cases that he doesn’t care if people download his movies or steal his book or sneak into his movies,” Kenefick said. “If I can use his own words against him to be a bee in his bonnet, then I will.”

The online flap may say more about the often-conflicting desires of creators and their business agents than it does about the political debate over Moore’s film. While studios and record labels have uniformly excoriated unauthorized sharing of movies and music online, many artists–particularly those eager for the propagation of their political messages–have sent more mixed messages.

Moore’s own comments came in an interview, clips of which have been floating around the Net at least since January. Kenefick said he was not able to verify the original source.

“I don’t agree with copyright laws, and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it…as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labor,” Moore said in that interview, comparing file sharing to a person sharing a purchased DVD with a friend. “I make these movies and books and TV shows because I want things to change, and so the more people who get to see them, the better.”

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Synergies? [10:04 am]

A chilling thought: Macrovision closes InstallShield deal

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Macrovision has been on a spending spree over the last several years, adding to its stable of technologies that help manage and protect software and other content against unauthorized copying. It hopes the addition of Schaumburg, Ill.-based InstallShield will help boost sales of its digital license management software.

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The TV Musuem [10:02 am]

Where Old Television Goes to Its Final Reward

The Museum of Television and Radio on West 52nd Street in Manhattan is a little like the Louvre. It was made into a museum by a Robespierre-like visionary tyrant, William S. Paley of CBS, and most first-time visitors just want to see the Mona Lisa.

[...] The library does not yet offer visitors Internet access so they can look up such information on Google or IMDB. Nor does the museum Web site (www.mtr.org) allow consumers to browse its collection online. If viewers want to find out whether the museum has a copy of the only musical Cole Porter ever wrote for television (”Aladdin,” on CBS in 1958) without making the trip to 52nd Street, they must call the museum inquiry line between 4 and 5:45 p.m. (It does.)

The imperfections are small, and not so terrible. [...]

The collection is particularly rich in old, obscure musicals, which are almost never shown on television because the music rights are so expensive.

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E-Mail Interception [9:53 am]

Despite being told from the outset that e-mail is no different than mailing a postcard, the NYTimes speaks out against the decision this week on the presumption of (a lack of) privacy in e-mail communication — of course, systematic incterception is a little broader problem than the postcard metaphor can accomodate: Intercepting E-Mail

Sounds ludicrous? We would have thought so, too, but a federal appeals court recently ruled that companies providing e-mail services could read clients’ e-mail notes and use them as they wish. Part of its rationale was that none of this would shock you because you have never expected much online privacy.

Count us among the shocked. The decision, on a 2-to-1 vote by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Massachusetts, sets up a frightening precedent, one that must be reversed by the courts, if not the Congress. It’s true that people are aware of some limits on online privacy, particularly in the workplace. But the notion that a company like America Online, essentially a common carrier, has the right to read private e-mail is ludicrous.

See also E-Mail Snooping Ruled Permissible and LawMeme’s E-Mail Snooping Not Wiretapping

Update: See Ernest’s take — E-Mail Wiretap Decision: Out of the Wiretap Frying Pan, Into the Copyright Fire

Later: Eff’s Deep Links — NYT on U.S. v. Councilman

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Valenti Successor Named [9:49 am]

It will be interesting to see where he takes this discussion: Film Industry Lobby Picks Successor to Valenti

Dan Glickman, former agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton and a long-serving Democratic Congressman, has been named to head the Motion Picture Association of America, taking over from Jack Valenti who headed the movie lobby group for 38 years.

Mr. Glickman, 59, will resign his current position running the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to take over the association in September, ending a search that has taken more than two years.

Mr. Glickman is considered an unknown quantity in Hollywood, where he will be charged with forging consensus among the seven studios that comprise the Motion Picture Association and taking on thorny issues like Internet piracy.

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