2003 April 3

(entry last updated: 2003-04-03 20:55:38)

  • End of Free: Tech Law Advisor alerts us that NYTimes links are no longer free. There may be a cutoff in terms of age, as I still can get articles from 2001, but articles from a month ago are now abstracted and available for a fee.

    Frankly, this is why I haven’t posted links to the Boston Globe. More importantly, this means that I’m really glad that I got a big hard disk – it’s clearly time to go the PDf route to retain my own copies. So much for being the paper of record. I’m very disappointed – I’ve lost quite a bit, simply because I assumed that the NYTimes would at least give us notice. *Sigh* – I’ll certainly write them a letter, but I doubt it’ll matter.

    Update: I’ve grabbed what I can, but a lot is gone. And I’ve written to the publisher and the president of the NYTimes Corporation. Thoughts about forming a P2P network for sharing NYTimes articles, anyone?

    Update: Dave Winer bids the New York Times on the Web farewell.

  • Looks like Ed Felten’s on a roll:

  • Eric Garland (of Big Champagne) has posted his testimony before the California Senate Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry. Here’s the earlier Furdlog entry. From his testimony (which is well worth reading in its entirety):

    The tools of the digital age are de facto tools of infringement: email, instant messaging, the world wide web, search engines, wireless technology. Any communication technology, any desktop computer, any portable storage device can and will be used (knowingly or otherwise) for infringement, often on a massive scale.

    Recently a record label executive asked me, what happens if we just unplug the internet? I believe he was being facetious, but I gave him a truthful answer. If it were possible to unplug the internet, I think that the digital problem would persist. Here s one personal reason I think so: my wife Amanda is a school teacher, and she describes the lunch hour swap meet she witnesses every day. When I was growing up, we called these offerings mix tapes. Then, I could share dozens of songs with a friend on a cassette. Now, kids can share thousands of songs with dozens of friends on MP3 CDs or portable devices.

    So, even if we believe we can solve the peer-to-peer problem, we can take little comfort that this will stem the tide. A new approach is overdue. The music industry in particular must seize this opportunity now, four years after the fact. Remarkably, it is still not too late.

  • Ed Felton’s found more to worry about in the super-DMCA language – overbroad banning of devices and information about devices that might have illegal uses under the law. And, in case you missed it yesterday, here’s Derek Slater’s and John Palfrey’s writeups of yesterday’s Massachusetts hearings – John’s testimony.

    Update: John links to a press release on the hearing

  • Salon has a take on Madonna’s decision to pull her “American Life” video.

  • Intel v. Hamidi gets a writeup at Wired – "Trespass to chattels, trespass to chattels, trespass to chattels." – Bag and Baggage has a number of links pre- amd post- arguments.

  • The Honest Thief turns out to have been nothing as advertised

    An executive who claimed to have developed a file-trading service that intentionally flouted copyright protection laws revealed Wednesday that he made the whole thing up for a laugh — and to sell a book.

  • An op-ed at CNet – Free content: Why not? (Slashdot discussion: Would Free Music Sell Cars?) A provocative premise with an interesting historical analogy:

    But how will artists and their agents and lawyers get paid? This time we can turn for answers not to coal distribution, but to an industry much closer to musicians’ homes: the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. ASCAP licenses, collects and redistributes music royalties from music performance venues (like radio stations, concert halls and so on) to the artists. It determines who gets paid what by polling these venues to see whose music gets played and how often.

    To determine reimbursement in an MP3 player world, a small sample of users could be invited periodically to voluntarily, and anonymously share their listening history stored in the player. Then, just as in the ASCAP model, payments collected from the music player distributors (Kia, the BSO and the like) would be split among the copyright owners. No fuss, no complexity and no secret CD police.

  • Macrovision is claiming there have been 100 million copy protected CDs sold worldwide – in response to analysts saying that their business is in trouble.

  • CNet covers the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, which seems to have gotten most of its ink (Boston Globe) over discussions about the pros and cons of Total Information Awareness.

  • Billboard notes that Kittie is suing their label over “royalty miscalculations.”

  • The Radiohead “Hail the the Thief” MP3s out there apparently are not the tracks on the final album. Rather, they are derived from “a stolen copy of early, unmixed edits and roughs.”

    But he says it has now become apparent that these versions constitute “work we’ve not finished, being released in this sloppy way, 10 weeks before the real version is even available. It doesn’t even exist as a record yet.”

    “So yes, we’re annoyed — the songs are good on the recordings, which you can hear,” he continued. “But we worked on them after this point until we were happy with them. This is why we’re pissed off — we didn’t give up on them in February (which is what you’re hearing) and it’s just a shame that, to your ears, we did.”

  • The Acacia Technologies patent claim being pursued against the porn industry for online multimedia is heating up according to this Forbes article. There’s a Slashdot discussion. Here’s an earlier article (Mid-December, 2002) and its associated Slashdot discussion

  • As I mentioned yesterday, the BSA is releasing a report that relates piracy rates to IT industry growth rates. The ZDNet article includes some heated TalkBacks, including a link to a story of a company that reacted to a BSA audit by going cold-turkey on proprietary software. A fancy WWW site has been set up to present the report itself [pdf]. Slashdot has a discussion going with comments that are good for laughs, as well as some that are just good comments – even given the clear agenda of the community.

    Here’s one figure to consider:

    From the methodology appendix:

    b. Piracy Rate The percentage of software installed in a country without a license, as measured by the BSA in its “Seventh Annual BSA Global Software Piracy Study” (available at www.bsa.org).

    At any rate, this looks like an exercise in regression analysis, followed by a conflation of correlation and causation. And there’s the interesting question of the extent to which local tax policies have been modified to promote IT industry development, too. (If I get the time, it might be interesting to plot these data against something like per capita GDP, for example.)

    The Q&A at the close of the document include two questions that are the real issue, and which the study does not address. For example:

    Q. Isn’t there an economic benefit from pirated software?

    A. Yes. There is always an economic benefit from something that is “free.” However there are also often hidden costs…. The intent of this study is to point out what the benefits are from lowering piracy rates. We believe these benefits – plus the others not quantified in productivity and the value of a strong local software industry – outweigh any economic benefits from piracy.

    I’m glad they “believe” this, but it would be quite interesting to see if this can be validated, since there are some real costs to policing piracy, too. Moreover, the network effects associated with widespread availability of software tools, enabling certain kinds of development otherwise beyond the economic means of certain countries.

    Certainly piracy is a problem, but it would have been nice to see a sharper, less PR-driven analysis. But, this is the BSA, after all, and their goals are not about study rigor. If we’re lucky, though, some more formal analyses will emerge that are reflective of this effort.

  • When going to the BSA www site, I gat a helpful message about the Opaserv virus, something I missed tracking since I don’t run Windows:

    Urgent Message

    The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is not responsible for the Opaserv worm. This is a malicious act that tricks victims into believing that the Business Software Alliance has shut down their computer due to licensing issues.

    BSA is disappointed that anyone would send a virus intent on inflicting damage and condemns such actions.

  • A received an e-mail from Kevin Marks, pointing me to a web-page answering my question as to why plasma TVs make noises when operated 6,500 ft of altitude.

    What types of symptomatic problems occur at altitudes above 6000 feet? Will the plasma TV even operate?

    A plasma TV will operate and the picture will be just as vibrant and colorful as it would at sea level. But because of the added altitude pressure, the plasma display must work harder to cool the display element. If the unit has fans, the fans will be significantly louder. If not, and the unit has a convection cooling system without fans, then the units cooling system will make a buzzing noise (the only way to describe it) as it works harder. It is a very real annoyance. Many people have been forced to return plasma TVs due to altitude pressure. One additional consideration is that since the plasma TV has to work harder in the thinner air, the unit will likely not last quite as long as it would at sea level.