Some Real Piracy

Police in Bollywood piracy raid

Dutch police have uncovered more than 140,000 pirated CDs and DVDs of popular Indian films and music in a string of simultaneous raids in Rotterdam.

Most of the products are believed to have originated in Pakistan, one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of pirated discs in the world.

Empty suitcases at one of the 13 shops suggested the discs were brought over in airline hand luggage.

Pakistan is believed to export more than 13m pirated discs every month.

CoCo thoughts, You’re Downloading Al-Qaeda!, echoing a favorite Modern Humorist graphic.

Susan Crawford with Broadcast Flag Hearing News

Broadcast Flag: Tell Us Again About Your Standing [via Copyfight]

Good news from the DC Circuit today, which issued an opinion asking for further facts about petitioners’ right to be in front of them complaining about FCC’s jurisdiction in the broadcast flag matter. Everyone (including, apparently, the FCC) assumed quite reasonably that the petitioners had every right to be there — in other words, everyone thought petitioners had “standing.”

But the DC Circuit wasn’t so sure about it. […]

[…] The court has given petitioners two weeks to provide statements of facts showing special harms caused by the broadcast flag rule — and has provided some helpful hints: show us whether any of your members are engaged in storing TV broadcasts and sending them to distant locations; show us whether you’ll be hindered in lawful copying and distribution; show us whether your member-educators (if you have any) will be hindered in distance education efforts.

Apple Continues To Tighten iTunes’ DRM

Andrew Orlowski explains the issue in his own special way: Apple de-socializes iTunes

In iTunes, Rendezvous allows users on the same subnet to share their music – although this is limited to streaming only. But the most recent version of iTunes 4.71. restricts that streaming capability even further, and users aren’t happy, as this support discussion shows. It used to support five simultaneous listeners, but now iTunes only permits five listeners a day.

[…] Let’s have a quick reality check.

If you opened up iTunes, turned up the volume really loud on your Mac, and hit Play, you could “stream” to five people within earshot. And no one would bust down the door, except possibly the neighbors. Certainly not the RIAA’s paramilitaries.

Now fast forward to the “digital music revolution.” The revolution is really about lower marginal costs for the producers – which is turning out to mean higher profits, as the price hasn’t come down. For us, it means we get less for our faith – in this case, certainly much less than what old fashioned, speaker to ear, analog sound waves can give us.

Once again, “digital” is proving to be a synonym for “crap”.

[…] As Jim Griffin, along with many others, have pointed out – radio was a far greater “disruption” to rights holders than the internet. So get over it already, Technorecordings Corp. Technology companies are now producing stuff that works worse than it did before, is more expensive, and gives us less than what we already had. Rationality suggests that companies and industries that sell worse products either go out of business, or mend their ways. For the technology industry, which is fretting deeply about China, overproduction, and the public’s reluctance to indulge in another dot.com bubble, that’s a new and unwelcome challenge.

Copyfight’s thoughts: Johansen Creates DRM-Free Interface to iTunes; Slashdot’s Buying DRM-Free Songs From the ITMS; CNet: Hackers build back door into iTunes

The Rise (Return?) of the Know-Nothings?

“Hey! I know how to narrow the gap in science and technology education in the US!” Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens [pdf]

Polls show that a large majority of Americans believe God alone created man or had a guiding hand. Advocates invoke the First Amendment and say the current campaigns are partly about respect for those beliefs.

“It’s an academic freedom proposal. What we would like to foment is a civil discussion about science. That falls right down the middle of the fairway of American pluralism,” said the Discovery Institute’s Stephen C. Meyer, who believes evolution alone cannot explain life’s unfurling. “We are interested in seeing that spread state by state across the country.”

[…] “If students only have one thing to consider, one option, that’s really more brainwashing,” said Duckett, who sent her children to Christian schools because of her frustration. Students should be exposed to the Big Bang, evolution, intelligent design “and, beyond that, any other belief that a kid in class has. It should all be okay.”

Hmmm – I know! “In the beginning, there was this Turtle…” — from I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus (liner notes)

Later: A very nice piece in the Washington Post: An Argument’s Mutating Terms [pdf]

OT: Amusements In The Face Of The Onslaught

A Few Tips to Cope With Life’s Annoyances

When subscription cards fall from magazines Andrew Kirk is reading, he stacks them in a pile at the corner of his desk. At the end of each month, he puts them in the mail but leaves them blank so that the advertiser is forced to pay the business reply postage without gaining a new subscriber.

Life can involve big hardships, like being fired or smashing up your car. There is only so much you can do about them. But far more prevalent – and perhaps in the long run just as insidious – are life’s many little annoyances.

These, you can do something about.

[…] “They’re an integral part of how people cope,” said Prof. James C. Scott, who teaches anthropology and political science at Yale University, and the author of “Weapons of the Weak,” about the feigned ignorance, foot-dragging and other techniques Malaysian peasants used to avoid cooperating with the arrival of new technology in the 1970’s. “All societies have them, but they’re successful only to the extent that they avoid open confrontation.”

Hollywood Targets A UK Citizen Over BitTorrent Site

Hollywood threatens to sue UK BitTorrent man for millions

Alexander Hanff had no idea Hollywood was keeping such a close eye on him. Then, last Saturday morning, a movie studio functionary arrived at his door. Hanff, still in his dressing gown and not yet full of coffee, opened the door, only to be served with a lawsuit by Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios and Warner Bros.

You may have already guessed Hanff’s supposed transgression. The movie studios suspect him of running a BitTorrent hub and helping people download copyrighted films via P2P technology. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of American) has gone after numerous BitTorrent hubs on similar charges and managed to shut many of them down. The plot here is a familiar one.

There are, however, a couple of factors that make Hanff’s story unique. For one, the US studios served Hanff papers at his home – in England. Secondly, Hanff, 31, owns the DVDR-Core domain name and pays for its server, but he has never actually administered the site. That’s done by a group of online friends that Hanff has never met in person. Lastly, Hanff plans to fight the movie studios, making him a rarity among BitTorrent hub owners.

[…] “Torrent files don’t contain any data,” Hanff said. “This is a search engine scenario. Why aren’t Google, Yahoo or Microsoft getting sued?”

NYTimes on a Drug Patent Ploy

A Troubling Drug Combination

In its large-scale trials of torcetrapib, Pfizer is testing the new drug only in combination with Lipitor, the company’s existing best-seller statin. If the tests go well, Pfizer will seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market the combination pill. It will not sell torcetrapib separately.

The reason, critics say, is that Lipitor will lose patent protection in 2010, opening the way for cheap generics to take away its market. By tying Lipitor to the new drug, Pfizer can extend its life and perhaps emerge with an even bigger blockbuster.

Some Funny Language

Some of this reads like the analyst wants to penalize surfers for removing cookies – sort of like the argument that skipping commercials in TV is theft: Websites Crippled By Consumers Deleting Cookies

“Cookies, 99 out of a 100 times, are not an invasion of a consumer’s privacy or security,” Eric T. Peterson, analyst for JupiterResearch, a division of Jupitermedia Corp., said. “They’re just harmless little text files.”

Nevertheless, 58 percent of Internet users have deleted the tiny applications, essentially making many consumers anonymous during site visits, and crippling website operators’ ability to gather information, JupiterResearch found through surveys this year of more than 4,600 online consumers. In addition, 39 percent of consumers are deleting cookies from their primary computer monthly.

The reason for these Draconian measures is fear. Consumers are constantly reminded about the risks on the Internet posed by spyware, phishers and viruses, so deleting cookies makes them feel more secure, even though it’s unlikely to make them safer, Peterson said.

[…] Peterson said the problems caused by cookie deletion are going to get worse for businesses.

“They shouldn’t put their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away,” Peterson said.

Instead, website operators need to look for technologies other than cookies to gather information. For example, Flash, a website-development technology from Macromedia Inc., can track consumers each time they visit a site.

Whew! Am I Relieved!

FCC: Nicollette Sheridan Monday Night Football Intro Not Indecent (FCC press release; Copps Statement; Opinion and Order

“Although the scene apparently is intended to be titillating, it simply is not graphic or explicit enough to be indecent under our standard,” the commission said.

While agreeing with the decision, Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps criticized ABC for airing the segment at a time — 9 p.m. EST — when many children were watching.

“There wasn’t much self-discipline in this particular promotion,” he said. “As stewards of the airwaves, broadcasters can and should do better.”

CC Experimental Results: Some Data Points

Creative Commons Is Rewriting Rules of Copyright [pdf] (Note that the article title when first posted to my RSS reader was “Some Artists Embrace Internet File-Sharing”)

When Chuck D and the Fine Arts Militia released their latest single, “No Meaning No,” several months ago, they didn’t try to stop people from circulating free copies on the Internet. They encouraged it.

They posted the entire 3-minute, 12-second song and its various vocal, drum and guitar components online and invited everyone to view, copy, mix, remix, sample, imitate, parody and even criticize it.

The result has been the creation of a flood of derivative work ranging from classical twists on the hip-hop piece to video interpretations of the song. The musicians reveled in the instant fan base. They were so pleased that they recently decided to publish their next entire album, due later this spring, the same way, becoming the first major artists to do so.

“No Meaning No” was released under an innovative new licensing scheme called Creative Commons that some say may be better suited to the electronic age than the hands-off mind-set that has made copyright such a bad word among the digerati.

So far, more than 10 million other creations — ranging from the movie “Outfoxed” and songs by the Beastie Boys to the British Broadcasting Corp.’s news footage and the tech support books published under the O’Reilly label — have been distributed using these licenses. The idea has even won the support of Hilary Rosen, formerly of the Recording Industry Association of America, and Jack Valenti, the past head of the Motion Picture Association of America, who became known for their aggressive pursuit of people who share free, unauthorized copies via the Internet.

Slashdot discussion: Creative Commons In the News