February 4, 2005

It’s Friday [6:32 pm]

So who can resist linking to an article like this! Why Does Windows Still Suck? [pdf]

There is nothing else like this phenomenon in the entire consumer culture. If anything else performed as horribly as Windows, and on such a global scale, consumers would scream bloody murder and demand their money back and there would be some sort of investigation, class-action litigation, a demand for Bill Gates’ cute little geeky head on a platter.

Of course, the answer has something to do with UCITA (ALA’s page, a less kind page, with extensive resources), as Dave Clark discussed in ESD.937 yesterday. Note that Microsoft asserts, right up front, that their product doesn’t necessarily do anything, and if you are counting on it doing something, well, they’re not liable.

Slashdot: Why Does Windows Still Suck?

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You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide From The RIAA [6:23 pm]

Well, maybe you can get away, though: Deceased woman named in file-sharing suit [pdf]

Gertrude Walton of Fayette County hated computers, her daughter said.

That did not stop the recording industry from accusing the now deceased 83-year-old Mount Hope woman of illegally trading music over the Internet.

More than a month after Walton was buried in Beckley, a group of record companies named her as the only defendant in a federal lawsuit. They claimed Walton made more than 700 pop, rock and rap songs available for free on the Internet under the screen name “smittenedkitten.”

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America acknowledged that Walton was probably not the smittenedkitten it is searching for.

Slashdot: The 83-Year-Old Dead File Swapper; RIAA sues the dead; Copyfight’s entry

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Some Fake Grass-Roots: Slashdot [12:05 pm]

Is Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf?

Glenn Fleishman writes “A report issued today by the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) and The Heartland Institute says that municipalities shouldn’t build wireless networks because it’s anti-competitive and will waste taxypayer dollars. The report has some interesting points (mostly about building fiber networks), but eWeek (second page) uncovered that NMRC is a subsidiary of Issue Dynamics, which is a lobbying firm that represents most US telcos and cable operators. It’s astroturf. The Heartland Institute won’t reveal its funders. I wrote a long account trying to track down the connections between the sock puppets involved in publicizing the report.”

From the cited eWeek article:

But I’m also reminded of stadium projects (Baltimore and Indianapolis come to mind) where the results were not abysmal. So, you do have to wonder if the NMRC’s report is really serious analysis, or just a case of selective examples that support a conclusion someone might have wanted to put forth.

Who might that someone be? NMRC is a subsidiary of Issue Dynamics Inc. (IDI), which the Center for Media and Democracy describes as “a Washington-based consulting firm that organizes PR campaigns on behalf of clients.”

[...] The NMRC made a point to say that none of the researchers who participated received any money from NMRC. But in case you’re wondering who’s paying the bills at IDI, take a look at its client list. If you don’t want to read the whole huge thing, let me summarize those of interest in this issue: Ameritech, Bell South, Comcast, Pacific Bell, Qwest, SBC Communications, Sprint, U.S. West, Verizon and Verizon Wireless.

These companies favor state legislation prohibiting municipal broadband (including Wi-Fi) projects or giving incumbent carriers veto power over them, such as Pennsylvania did.

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“‘Sanitizing’ Is OK; Other Changes To Movies Are Right Out, Though” [9:04 am]

Count on our government servants to show how cognitive dissonance is really done: Bill to let companies sanitize movies moves fast [pdf]

Legislation that would enable parents to skip movie scenes deemed offensive on DVDs is moving quickly in Congress. It also would create stiffer penalties for people who bring video cameras into theaters to make pirated copies.

“Parents have a right to decide what their children see on television and no one should deny them that right,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who introduced the bill in the House. “Fortunately, technology exists that shields children from violence, sex, and profanity. It is the electronic equivalent of fast-forwarding over unwanted content.”

The legislation was introduced because Hollywood studios and directors had sued to stop the makers and distributors of the technology. The movies’ creators had argued that changing the content would violate their copyrights.

H.R. 357; S. 167 - Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 - more accurately, the ClearPlay Protection Act of 2005, I would say

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Own or Rent? The Shaping of a Music eTailing Battle [8:46 am]

Rivals Hope to Sink IPod With Rented Music [pdf] (also, Founder of MP3.com to Launch Music Service [pdf])

Is music something you own or something you rent?

How music fans answer that question in coming months will help determine the viability of a new slate of online music services that offer to fill portable music players with an unlimited number of songs for a monthly fee.

While the music subscription approach has grown in recent years, far more music fans have opted to buy songs by the track, a business model popularized by Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes Music Store and its hugely successful iPod portable player.

But the release late last year of new copy-protection software from Microsoft Corp. may begin to change that. The software frees subscribers to move their rented tracks from their computers to certain portable music players.

The system works by essentially putting a timer on the tracks loaded on the player. Every time the user connects the player to the PC and the music service, the player automatically checks whether the user’s subscription is still in effect. Songs stop playing if the subscription has lapsed. If the user doesn’t regularly synch up the player with the service, the songs go dead as well.

Microsoft’s PlaysforSure site; sadly, I cannot remember what the name of this portable DRM technology is, but I’ll find it eventually.

A little weblog search reveals the name: Janus, now subsumed into Windows Media 10.(Microsoft’s site on Janus/WM10)

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Open Access To NIH-Funded Research? [8:14 am]

Something to cheer Hal Abelson - a little: NIH Grant Recipients Are ‘Asked’ to Post Data [pdf]

Researchers who receive grant money from the National Institutes of Health will be “asked” to submit their results to a public Web site within a year after they are published in a scientific journal, under a new and controversial NIH policy announced yesterday.

The highly anticipated “public access” policy — which aims to make it easier for Americans to see the results of research they paid for with their tax dollars — represents a compromise between competing forces that had lobbied the agency intensely during the past year.

[...] Both sides had at least one complaint in common: The policy leaves it up to scientists to decide when to make their articles public. That puts scientists in an awkward position of wanting to release them quickly to please the NIH — their funding source — and slowly to please their paper publishers — upon whom they are equally dependent for professional prestige.

The NIH press release; Policy publication: About Public Access

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France Protest Over IFPI Lawsuits [8:07 am]

French Criticize Music Download Crackdown [pdf]

“We denounce this repressive and disproportionate policy, whose victims are just a few scapegoats,” said signatories of the campaign, led by weekly Le Nouvel Observateur in its edition published Thursday. “Like at least 8 million other French people, we also have downloaded music online and are also potential criminals,” the open letter said. “We demand a stop to these ridiculous legal pursuits.”

Well-known artists including Manu Chao, Matthieu Chedid (M) and Yann Tiersen, score composer for the hit French film “Amelie,” added their signatures to the campaign entitled “Free up music!”

French Industry Minister Patrick Devedjian said he agreed that “every campaign of blind and brutal repression is not only ineffective, but harms all people concerned.”

However, he told TF1 television that “the concept of everything for free is an illusion.”

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