April 27, 2005

I Thought We Got Past This [7:03 pm]

But apparently the record industry sticks with the tried-and-true in everything it does: from State getting dubious CD donations / You can’t always get what you want when it comes to music sent in a court settlement [pdf] (via the WaPo’s I Left My iPod in San Francisco [pdf])

California schools and libraries are slated to receive 665,000 free CDs starting this week as part of a $143 million antitrust settlement with music companies.

But some Bay area librarians think they’re getting stuck with moldy tunes the record labels couldn’t sell.

The San Francisco Public Library, for instance, will get 91 copies of a ’60s rock compilation (”Feelin’ Groovy”), 81 copies of an album by reality TV star Jessica Simpson (”Irresistible”) and 73 copies of a “Christmas with Yolanda Adams.” By contrast, it will receive only single copies of hundreds of other selections, like jazz great Louis Armstrong’s “I Love Jazz.”

“The impression one gets from the list is that the record companies are just unloading overstock,” said John Roberts, head of the Hargrove Music Library at UC Berkeley. Roberts said it appears many libraries will receive too many copies of some titles and others they don’t want at all.

See the whole list of material being sent

See earlier posting

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Moments of Gratification in Education [5:26 pm]

I met Dan Lockton while I was teaching at Cambridge University’s Technology Policy MPhil program, and today I got an email from him describing his MPhil dissertation topic: Architectures of control in product design.

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Nokia Reveals MP3 Phones [12:35 pm]

Nokia Takes Aim at IPod with Premium Line of Phones [pdf]

Nokia unveiled its N91 multimedia phone, which will have a 4-gigabyte hard drive that can store thousands of music files. The phone, which will also run on high-speed 3G and wireless LAN networks, is due out by the end of the year.

[...] The hard disk-based music phone would have been launched sooner but Nokia is still working with Microsoft and its online partner OD2 to develop a music download service for mobile devices, Vanjoki told Reuters in an interview.

“But it will be this year. We’re not going to miss Christmas,” he said.

Nokia is also confident there will be an open standard for digital music protection, which it intends to use in its phones. Nokia does not want to use a proprietary format from Microsoft, despite an ongoing argument between the mobile phone industry and a handful of patent holders of key anti-piracy technology, he said.

“I think there will be more discussions, but it’s starting to look better,” Vanjoki said, referring to a more modest royalty payments proposal that was tabled by the patent holders two weeks ago.

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An Interview With the Author of DCRAW [12:03 pm]

From Digital Photography Review: RAW storm in a teacup? Dave Coffin interviewed

2. As we know none of the manufacturers openly document their RAW formats, how long does it typically take for you to reverse-engineer a format?

It can take minutes or months, depending on the complexity of the format.

3. Are you ever concerned about the legal implications of reverse-engineering proprietary file formats?

If anyone sued me, I’d be the biggest free software hero since Jon Johanson. It’s better for the camera makers to ignore me and hope I lose interest.

[...] 8. It’s clear that many photographers are concerned over the current situation between Adobe and Nikon because they feel it may be an indicator of worse to come (harder encryption, more ‘locking down’ of file data). So is this a storm in a teacup or a sign of more to come?

Photographers have reason to feel scared. Not being computer hackers, they feel powerless to stop Nikon from asserting property rights over their images.

I’m not so worried. Whatever scheme Nikon tries next, I’ll just reverse-engineer it.

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Open Media Network Launched [9:17 am]

The Open Media Network launched - press release

A free public service network was launched today to give users worldwide access to public television and radio programming, movies, podcasts and video blogs, while fully protecting the producers’ copyrights.

Open Media Network (OMN) was founded by Internet pioneer and Netscape veteran Mike Homer and includes Marc Andreessen as an advisor and board member. The service offers users a broad selection of free public programs with a simple TV-style program guide and automatic background deliveries of favorite scheduled programming. Content producers can easily add their programming to the network, with unlimited free delivery of their shows and with digital rights protection. Through the service, consumers can view the content on multiple devices, including PCs and iPods today and televisions and cell phones by this summer.

[...] Open Media Network is powered by grid delivery technology from Kontiki, which already provides secure delivery of content libraries for a range of companies such as Ernst & Young, Verizon, AOL and the BBC. Kontiki’s grid delivery technology speeds the distribution of video and music files by allowing participants to share unused bandwidth on their computers and servers. There are already over 20 million users of Kontiki’s technology today.

Because OMN uses Kontiki’s grid delivery technology, all content is centrally managed. Programs which violate copyright or are unsuitable for viewing can be removed from the network. Kontiki’s battle-tested technology has built-in digital rights management (DRM) through support of the Microsoft Windows Rights Manager and allows publishers to choose whether content can be shared, duplicated or viewed a set number of times. Future versions of OMN, due this summer, will offer producers a secure payment system for premium content.

CNet News: Netscape pioneers launch free content network

Later, from the Washington Post: Internet TV Age Is Dawning, but Who Will Watch? [pdf] - the article also mentions MediaTV (ManiaTV: MTV for the Web?)

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RIAA Subpoenas Rejected in UNC Case [9:13 am]

Judge Rejects UNC Subpoenas, RIAA Points to Old Request (citing the Daily Tarheel’s RIAA can’t get student’s names [pdf])

On April 14, Judge Russell Eliason of the U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem rejected the RIAA’s request to reveal the names of the two students. Currently, the RIAA has only their online aliases.

Eliason’s decision was made public Thursday.

The two students, whose aliases are “hulk” and “CadillacMan,” are enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University, respectively.

Both are targets of a process the RIAA initiated two years ago, when it subpoenaed UNC-CH and N.C. State. It was seeking the individuals’ names under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

But because the music files are stored on students’ computers and not the universities’ networks, Eliason wrote, the schools do not have to offer the information.

“These are old cases,” said Jenni Engebretsen, spokeswoman for the RIAA. Now, she said, “We are using an entirely different process.”

Note that the opinion is not online yet, but should eventually appear at the link to the judge’s name above

WaPo’s APWire feed: tudents Accused of Piracy Won’t Be ID’d [pdf]

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A Position on Software Patents [8:26 am]

MySQL CEO Marten Mickos interviewed at InfoWorld: MySQL CEO pans software patents, touts open source

InfoWorld: What is your take on the whole software-patent issue?

Mickos: Software patents are detrimental to the entire software industry.

InfoWorld: Why?

Mickos: Because they restrict innovation and they don’t protect the innovator like they should. So it’s just a mistake to believe that patents, because they are good for hardware, would be good for software.

InfoWorld: So you would recommend eliminating them for software?

Mickos: Absolutely.

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Questions on Longhorn’s Security [8:13 am]

I’m glad that someone remembered to ask these questions, and sorry that, so far, they are only being raised in the geek community, rather than in the mainstream press: Microsoft reveals hardware security plans

While the technologies, once known as Palladium and now called the next-generation secure computing base (NGSCB), will help companies and consumers lock down their computers and networks, concerns remain that the hardware security measures could also be used to lock-in consumers to a single platform and restrict fair uses of content.

With homegrown integrity and security features being added by a variety of devices by companies aiming to lock out competition using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the specter of another hardware-based security feature worries some information-system experts.

Related: this comment in Slashdot’s What to Expect from Linux 2.6.12, which points out the expected inclusion of trusted computing in the upcoming kernal.

Slashdot’s Microsoft Scales Down Palladium

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Open Source Drawing Venture Monies [7:56 am]

Open Wallets for Open-Source Software

Venture capitalists are again embracing open-source technology companies. JBoss, which offers a layer of software for controlling Web applications, was one of 20 such businesses that raised $149 million in venture money in 2004, according to estimates by the research firm VentureOne. At least three open-source start-ups raised $20 million last month alone.

But given some spectacular open-source failures in the late 1990’s, a natural question may be whether some of these venture capitalists have perhaps lost their minds.

[...] A big difference between then and now is the increased adoption of open-source software by corporate users. Another is the relative success of Red Hat, an open-source start-up that went public in 1999 and makes money by selling enhancements and maintenance services to corporations using Linux.

[...] Red Hat’s success in selling support services has created the business model for virtually every open-source entrepreneur, including Mr. Fleury. Venture capital firms have become so enthusiastic about this approach that they seem eager to support practically any open-source company just to have a stake in this hot area.

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EU on Microsoft [7:36 am]

A Reuters News releaseEU Threatens Microsoft Over Windows — in its entirety:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The EU’s executive told Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer his company must comply urgently with its decision to stop abusing its virtual monopoly position of its Windows operating system or face action.

“All I can say for the moment we are still not satisfied,” European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd told a news briefing, referring to Microsoft’s action to meet the Commission’s demands.

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