2003 March 25

(entry last updated: 2003-03-25 18:25:20)

  • Mary Hodder has been following the ILaw discussions, and has some thoughts the J. P. Barlow’s latest discussion of "digital bottles."

  • Note that Donna’s posted a couple more sessions:

  • The article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the conflict between the DMCA and TEACH (Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act) has hit Slashdot. As the Chronicle article states:

    What worries the media centers is that colleges might not be allowed to bypass copying protections even when they need to do so to use materials from CDs and DVDs for distance education, as permitted by the Teach Act in certain circumstances. The problem arises when digital materials are not also released in non-digital formats that the colleges can fall back on, such as print.

  • Pursuant to Yochai’s talk on access, WLAN carriers in Korea, Australia, China, Malaysia, and Singapore agree that their customers will be able to employ the hot spots of the partners. Slashdot discussion

  • Donna’s morning summary from Rio of Yochai’s talk on Internet Access is up. Now, the Lessig/Benkler Open Spectrum discussion. And it appears that Larry’s having a good time – although I look forward to learning more about his ‘minor wars’ sentence.
    Update: Oh – I see; he’s droppped the posting about the MIT Press and fair use – luckily, you can still get the gist from Cory Doctorow’s weblog (wait for the whole thing to load and you’ll get to the entry). Note that a Google search on Lessig "MIT Press" brings up the cached material, which I’ve already saved and considering posting here. I’m guessing I don’t get enough traffic to concern whoever convinced Larry, but we’ll see.

  • Mark Mulligan speculates that the Recording Industry Association of Korea has issued blanket licences to file sharing networks – note that this is UNCONFIRMED. While waiting, it’s interesting to look at the RIAK’s Projects page, as well as the page of the Shinwon Agency, which handles IP export issues.

  • Missed this earlier posting by Lydia Loisides of Juper Research on the SonicBlue bankruptcy: I Hate It When I Am Right, wherein she quotes some unhappy statistics on Tivo

  • Paul Krugman, in today’s New York Times op-ed, points to the insidious possibilities when radio industry concentration meets a political agenda. Eric Boehlert’s series of articles in Salon on Clear Channel is cited.

    Why would a media company insert itself into politics this way? It could, of course, simply be a matter of personal conviction on the part of management. But there are also good reasons for Clear Channel — which became a giant only in the last few years, after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 removed many restrictions on media ownership — to curry favor with the ruling party. On one side, Clear Channel is feeling some heat: it is being sued over allegations that it threatens to curtail the airplay of artists who don’t tour with its concert division, and there are even some politicians who want to roll back the deregulation that made the company’s growth possible. On the other side, the Federal Communications Commission is considering further deregulation that would allow Clear Channel to expand even further, particularly into television.

    Or perhaps the quid pro quo is more narrowly focused. Experienced Bushologists let out a collective “Aha!” when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company’s top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel’s chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university’s endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

    There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but a good guess is that we’re now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy.

    Here’s Lawmeme’s take.

  • Madonna releases MP3s – a break with her past practices. Moreover, it also appears that she’s toying with the a different distribution model:

    Madonna is selling her new antiwar single, “American Life” on her Web site, charging $1.49 for the download of a high-quality, wholly unrestricted MP3 file. Her publicists started taking preorders a week ago, and in a novel move for a high-profile recording artist, enlisted fans to help sell the single on their own Web sites.

    The so-called Madonna Project program–drawn directly from Amazon.com’s and other Web sites’ affiliate strategies–saw banners and advertisements for the single pop up on fan Web pages and blogs last week. Sites whose advertisements resulted in sales of the single would get credit toward Madonna prizes and merchandise.

    “The Madonna Project is a top-secret initiative to revolutionize how music is distributed on the Web, and Madonna wants you to join,” the singer’s site read last week. “The more singles sold through your site or links, the better your chance to win a pat on the back, a gold star and some serious Madonna prizes.”

    Note that Googling the "Madonna Project" turns up quite the assortment of stuff.

  • Findlaw’s Chris Sprigman has an editorial on the implications of the Lexmark suit over printer cartridges: Copyright Versus Consumers’ Rights:

    How Companies are Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Thwart Competition

    What should be done to protect competition? Static Control has already begun to explore one possibility.

    In passing the DMCA, Congress adopted a safeguard provision directing the United States Copyright Office to undertake a triennial review relating to the statute. The purpose of the review is to exempt from the statute’s anticircumvention provisions classes of works where the Copyright Office found that technological protection measures had impeded lawful uses.

    Static Control has filed a petition with the Copyright Office asking for an exemption that would cover its Smartek chip. Specifically, it has asked the Copyright Office to exempt from the DMCA small, embedded computer programs that “do not otherwise control the performance, display or reproduction of copyrighted works that have an independent economic significance.”

    Put more simply, if Static Control gets its wish, only circumvention done for the purpose of copying an independently valuable piece of expression like a book or a film would still come within the DMCA. That makes perfect sense: Indeed, it would mean that the DMCA would be restored to its original purpose.