2002 December 20

(entry last updated: 2002-12-20 19:32:48)

  • Here we go again – MPAA suing 321 Studios. Here’s Dawn Chmielewski’s piece from SiliconValley.com. Slashdot reports a countersuit.

  • The Register has a great deconstruction of the Adobe public position on the ElcomSoft/Sklyarov case. Of course, we can hear direct from Dmitri in this CNet article (Slashdot discussion).

  • Donna points to an interview with Larry Lessig that’s fun – the recap of the Supreme experience paralleled my talk with Jonathan Zittrain a couple weeks ago.

  • Eric Norlin has prompted a set of online discussions around this set of ideas, wherein he argues that the Internet is a truly destructive/disruptive technology because it eliminates the economically important notion of scarcity, thus ruining the classic forms of business models.

    I would not pretend to be fully up to speed on this idea, but I would point to a couple of related concepts. First, it may be that the problem is the larger one of private property in this space. A key paper that Mike Pollitt uses in the course I work with him on at Cambridge University is the following – “Toward a Theory of Property Rights;” H. Demsetz; American Economic Review; V.57, N.2; pp. 347-359; 1967. Demsetz argues that property rights were created to simplify the process of exchange – property rights facilitate the lowering of transactions costs and are thus a net plus to an economy. Perhaps the Internet reduces the costs of many exchange transactions (particularly in the information domain) to the point that the efficiency afforded by property rights is no longer observed, so the notion of private property is no longer pertinent.

    Which brings me to the other point that I have been chewing on lately as I reread Marx to get a better handle on alienation – Marx’s historic materialism theory of history suggests that economic systems are maintained so long as they facilitate (or at least stay out of the way of) innovation. When the system impedes that progress, it will be subverted and supplanted. Marx uses this theory to explain the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Many have critiqued his example, but it may be that the Internet is affording us the opportunity to test Marx’s theory. Certainly, an argument can be made that many of the constructs of our current economic and legal system are limiting progress in this space today. The test will be to see if the current systems are resilient enough to endure (the current construction of copyright, for example?)

    Something to chew on, anyway (from JoHo the Blog)

  • So, nothing like this sort of article (LATimes via SFGate) to make you worry. Chasing it down, the Wired article suggests that, while some of the hurdles to deployment of HDTV may have been settled, the content providers still haven’t been heard from. The broadcast flag isn’t even mentioned……

  • Here’s a New York Times article to make you worry – the Bush Administration is proposing centralized Internet surveillance (BoinbBoing points to the draft report at the EPIC www site) – Slashdot discussion. As Wired pointed out, there are some local jusridictions aren’t going along with this. And the British aren’t exactly demonstrating that it’s that easy to make operational, either. This opinion piece from SFGate raises a lot of important issues.

  • A propos – today’s Ubersoft cartoon (part of an ongoing series).

  • Weird! MIT’s been cut off from the Internet since about 6:28AM today, which was when my httpd server got its last hit. I haven’t heard whether it’s an attack or we’re just having terrible router, etc problems. I can ping just about anywhere within MIT and the nameservers are working just fine (our usual problem), but MIT.EDU is a no-show – all 4 machines are off the network. NOT the level of service we’re used to here – it’ll be interesting to find out what has happened…….

    UPDATE: Back up at 9:40AM – still no news on what happened. Heading over to the Shifted Librarian, I see that Jenny gave me a plug – maybe MIT just couldn’t take the traffic?? <G>