New Yorker’s Walter Mossberg Profile [8:04 am]
I wondered why these visitors hoped for a Mossberg endorsement. He has called the telephone companies â€œthe new Soviet Ministries [pdf],â€ because of their insistence on controlling their customers, and he has written disparagingly about many of their products. [...]
[...] On March 2, 2000, Mossberg urged consumers to boycott the new Sony digital music player (the Music Clip), because it was “designed to satisfy lawyers obsessed with protecting the copyrights of the record labelsâ€”including Sonyâ€™s own labelâ€”even at the expense of simplicity and convenience for consumers.” He went on, “It treats every user like a potential criminal, and tries to impose new controls on music people paid for years ago.”
[...] Mossberg has also been criticized for being too focussed on products rather than on the broader corporate and political issues that affect consumers. Lawrence Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford and the founder of its Center for Internet and Society, says that Mossberg “missed the most basic point” in a piece on copyright protection for digital material, because “nowhere in the piece did he mention ‘fair use.’ ” Yet, Lessig said, “he also wrote an amazing piece about cell phones and how the phone companies were restricting access to the Web. Nobody was thinking about this issue as it applies to the cell phone.” Lessig worries that Mossberg is “kind of random” in his writing about these larger issues. There’s “a lot more to technology questions than how do you make the machine work,” Lessig says. “When I read the piece he wrote about cell phones, I wanted him to write more about this.” And when he read the article about digital rights, he says, he thought it best that Mossberg not write more about the subject. Mossberg says that he has made the conscious choice not to write as often as Lessig would like about broader tech issues. But he has scolded Hollywood for resisting the overhaul of copyright laws, the phone companies for resisting products that they donâ€™t own, and the digital code that makes it impossible or difficult for consumers to make copies of songs or movies they have bought.