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December 14, 2004

You Can Try Anything [9:32 pm]

But this seems like a real tilt at a windmilll - then again, it’s really not my field — and worse, the proposed alternative is patents, an even worse mechanism: Lawsuit: Software should not be copyrighted

Intellectual-property consultant Greg Aharonian hopes to convince the court that software makers can protect their products adequately through patents, which provide more comprehensive protection but are difficult to obtain and expire in a shorter period of time.

[...] Aharonian argues in his complaint that software copyright laws violate the right to due process enshrined in the U.S. Constitution because they do not provide clear boundaries for appropriate use. That means industry players and courts do not have a clear idea of the rules.

Slashdot: Lawsuit Filed Against Software Copyright

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MPAA Takes On BitTorrent [9:26 pm]

Well, the servers: MPAA to serve lawsuits on BitTorrent servers (CNet’s MPAA targets core BitTorrent, eDonkey users and Wired News’ Hollywood Wants BitTorrent Dead have more details)

The lawsuit will target BitTorrent server operators, Reuters reports rather than downloaders, indicating this is less an assault on the technology and more on the people misusing it.

[...] Websites encouraging BitTorrent dissemination of movie material for which they do not have distribution rights will be on the receiving end of lawsuits, the organisation is expected to say. [The application's developer Bram] Cohen himself is not believed to be in the MPAA’s sights, sources told Reuters.

Slashdot: MPAA to Sue BitTorrent Tracker Servers and their earlier BitTorrent Gives Hollywood a Headache

Later: BBC’s Hollywood to sue net film pirates; Washington Post: Studios Step Up Fight Against Online Piracy [pdf]; Ed Felten: MPAA Sues BitTorrent Trackers; Donna New MPAA Lawsuits Target BitTorrent, eDonkey (Donna Wentworth)

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How To Win Friends and Influence People [9:17 pm]

Apple fights RealNetworks’ ‘hacker tactics’

Apple Computer has quietly updated its iPod software so that songs purchased from RealNetworks’ online music store will no longer play on some of the Mac maker’s popular MP3 players.

The move could render tunes purchased by many iPod owners unplayable on their music players. For the last four months, RealNetworks has marketed its music store as the only Apple rival compatible with the iPod, following the company’s discovery of a way to let its customers play their downloaded tunes on Apple’s MP3 player.

Slashdot: New iPod Firmware Locks Out RealNetworks Music

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OT: Something Ugly Going On Here [9:27 am]

My subnet here at MIT is MASSIVELY being overwhelmed by something — what exactly is not terribly clear at the moment. Hopefully it can be isolated and rectified soon.

Sorry about the slow/nonexistent access

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“Vectoralists” and Enclosure [6:45 am]

From firstmonday, an interview with the author of The Hacker Manifesto:FM Interviews: McKenzie Wark

If you take the long view, the commodity economy passes through three stages. The first commodifies land, and hence agriculture. The second commodifies capital, and hence manufacturing. The third stage is the commodification of information, and hence the so-called “new economy.” Each phase is what I would call a development of abstraction in the world. Each involves a new property form — landed property, capital, and so-called “intellectual property.”

Each stage is an enclosure of the commons in favor of a private property right. Intellectual property grows out of patent, trademark, and copyright but changes them from a kind of social compromise to a private property right.

Each stage produces a class who own the means of production in the form of private property, and a class dispossessed of what it produces in the first place. Thus we get farmers versus landlords, workers versus capitalists, and as I would put it, a new level of class conflict, between hackers and what I call vectoralists — those who own intellectual property and the vectors which are the means of realizing its value.

I see the formation of a hacker sensibility and ethic as an expression of this new level of conflict over the enclosure of the commons and the subordination of free productivity to the commodity form. So I see Gisle Hannemyr’s story as part of a bigger picture. Intellectual property makes all kinds of creativity equivalent in the eyes of the marketplace. So x amount of your patents are worth y amount of my copyrights.

So while writers, programmers, biologists, or musicians tend to see themselves as separate cultures with specialized ways of thinking, I think there is an over-arching class interest there as well. An interest in preserving the autonomy of the way we labor that farmers and workers have already lost. We are the new front line in a very long struggle.

[...] A manifesto is firstly a way of cutting through a complex world and revealing its complexicty through that simple, polarizing gesture. A manifesto is addressed to a collective interest. It is addressed to “us” against “them.” A Hacker Manifesto is introduced to producers of the new, whether in the arts or sciences, or somwhere in between.

It is against those who would profit by the new enclosure of information within the property form. I argue that strict intellectual property is not in the interests of creators. It is in the interests of those who own the means of realizing the value of what we do.

I don’t offer a program so much as an orientation: think about what you have as a common interest with other producers of information, and beyond that with other producers in general. Think beyond the property form. Imagine new worlds where information not only wants to be free, but is free. I think that’s a whole new horizon for thinking about what justice is, for what the just society could be.

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