September 23, 2004

Donna on (c) and Education in Canada [6:09 pm]

Donna has lots to says about a Canadian news article that seems to show that educators, in their effort to carving out some fair use in the face of current copyright proposals in Canada, seem to give away the farm instead: Protect students’ free access to Web, groups say

Pitted against the publishing industry, six national education groups yesterday banded together to urge the federal government to reject any copyright law changes that would charge students and teachers a fee to use material on the Internet that is now free.

[...] Educators are not fighting the fact that some creators protect their work by passwords and allow only paying users to access their websites. The groups say they don’t agree with having to pay to use works that are publicly available on the Internet, as proposed in a draft document by the House of Commons standing committee on Canadian heritage. This will limit access to the Internet in schools, they say.

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The Terror War on the Internet: Online Speech Limits [1:50 pm]

Web War: Even Near Home, a New Front Is Opening in the Terror Battle

While Qaeda operatives have employed an arsenal of technical tools to communicate - from e-mail encryption and computer war games to grisly videotapes like the recent ones showing beheadings believed to have been carried out by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - investigators say they worry most about the Internet because extremists can reach a broad audience with relatively little chance of detection.

By examining sites like those stored inside the electronic walls of the Clifton business, investigators are hoping to identify who is behind them, what links they might have to terror groups, and what threat, if any, they might pose. And in a step that has raised alarms among civil libertarians and others and so far proven unpersuasive in the courtroom, prosecutors are charging that those administering these sites should be held criminally responsible for what is posted.

Attempting to apply broad new powers established by the Patriot Act, the federal government wants to punish those who it claims provide “expert advice or assistance” and therefore play an integral part of a global terror campaign that increasingly relies on the Internet. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee recently, called such Web sites “cyber sanctuaries.”

“These networks are wonderful things that enable all kinds of good things in the world,” Mr. Wolfowitz said of the Internet. “But they’re also a tool that the terrorists use to conceal their identities, to move money, to encrypt messages, even to plan and conduct operations remotely.”

[...] Ms. Katz said she was not discouraged by the criticism of the prosecutions. “When you call for the death of people and then it results in actions - that is beyond the First Amendment,” she said. “You are organizing a crime.”

The Nuremberg Files, anyone?

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Sony Schizophrenia Continues [10:02 am]

Sony Considers MP3 Support to Silence iPod Fans

Consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. said on Thursday it is mulling a major strategic shift to make digital music devices that play MP3 song files.

The Walkman creator has long insisted its digital music players support only its proprietary ATRAC format, a move that has annoyed some Sony aficionados and allowed more accommodating music players like Apple Computer’s iPod to dent Sony’s long established dominance in the portable music business.

See also Derek’s Sony Marginally Less Stupid, Takes Nearly Meaningless Action

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Halloween Coming Early This Year [9:58 am]

In Strip This Bill, the Washington Post points out it’s going to be an interesting day in the House:

THE HOUSE is scheduled today to take up the Republican leadership’s latest attack on the federal courts. In July the House passed a bill to strip the courts of the power to hear challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that ensures that states do not have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. (The Senate has yet to consider that power-stripping measure.) Today the House may vote on a bill to prevent the courts from ruling on challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance. Never mind that this year the Supreme Court overturned the one major lower-court opinion that had struck down the pledge and that there is no reason to think the court is having second thoughts. As far as House proponents are concerned, judges should never again even be able to consider whether the words “under God” are constitutional in the pledge.

Update: H.R.2028, the Pledge Protection Act, passed 247-173 — I look forward to the “π = 3 Act of 2004

Even later: the NYTimes’ take - Congress Slouches Toward Home; Marci Hamilton’s take: The Pledge Protection Act: The Lunacy of Letting Only State Courts Interpret the First Amendment

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Cultural Hegemony [8:42 am]

The US apparently exports yet another part of our culture — lawsuits over filesharing: Music boss can’t wait to sue British file sharers

The boss of Universal Music Group UK John Kennedy can’t wait to start suing British music sharers. John who? Although he’s well known in the British music business, Kennedy will have a bigger pulpit fairly soon. The combative former shipping lawyer will succeed Jay Berman as head of the lobby group the IPFI - the international version of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) - and he defended both the the lawsuits and file poisoning at the In The City music conference in Manchester this week.

Greed, of course, is universal:

But he had even less sympathy for songwriters, who receive only a small fraction of royalties that recordings owners receive. that was fair, he insisted, as hits were down to investment in marketing, he said. At Polygram (which became Universal), Kennedy had stopped the practice of chart-fixing, he said, “because we were so bad at it. Songs that were supposed to chart at No.6 were coming in at No.34″.

He’d be more sympathetic to songwriters, he said, the day that record companies had “50 per cent margins”.

Slashdot: New IFPI Boss Vows to Extend Recording Copyrights

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Spoke Too Soon [8:39 am]

Broadcasters Gut Digital TV Bill (See Finally!, below)

Two words.

That was all it took to gut a bill introduced Tuesday by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) to force broadcasters to give back all of their beachfront analog TV spectrum by Jan. 1, 2009. The government would then give some of the spectrum to emergency workers and sell off the rest to telecommunications companies planning broadband wireless services.

[...] In a markup of the bill in the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana), along with Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-South Carolina), successfully put forth an amendment erasing the 2009 deadline favored by McCain. It also would require the broadcasters to give up just four 6-MHz channel slots in the UHF band (TV channels 63, 64, 68 and 69).

Under the amendment, which the committee passed in a 13-9 vote, the broadcasters wouldn’t have to give anything back at all in a particular market if the Federal Communications Commission concluded that such a move would create a “consumer disruption” — the two key words. Critics fear broadcasters could get that ruling in many markets.

Slashdot: US Still Dithering Over Analog-Digital TV Conversion

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