Interview with Chuck D & Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy

How Copyright Law Changed Hip-Hop: Interview with Chuck D & Hank Shocklee of Public Enemy [via IPNewsBlog]

In the mid- to late 1980s, hip-hop artists had a very small window of oppor-tunity to run wild with the newly emerging sampling technologies before the record labels and lawyers started paying attention. No one took advantage of these technologies more effectively than Public Enemy, who put hundreds of sampled aural fragments into It Takes a Nation and stirred them up to create a new, radical sound that changed the way we hear music. But by 1991, no one paid zero for the records they sampled without getting sued. They had to pay a lot.

Stay Free! talked to the two major architects of P.E.’s sound, Chuck D and Hank Shocklee, about hip-hop, sampling, and how copyright law altered the way P.E. and other hip-hop artists made their music.

This comes from StayFree!, whose about page announces:

Stay Free! is a print magazine focused on issues surrounding commercialism and American culture. It is published about every ten months… some people seem to think that’s funny.

Sharing? Stealing? What Would You Call This?

A writeup on peerflix — a DVD sharing club: Online Diary: Uncanny Connections and DVD’s to Trade

Dan Robinson, however, thinks trading movies with other DVD owners on the Web is better than hoarding them. Mr. Robinson is the founder and chief executive of, a new site that seeks to blend two trends: online DVD rental sites like Netflix and music-file-sharing services like Kazaa.

Peerflix users maintain a list of DVD’s they want and post a list of movies they own that they are willing to trade. Once a member makes a commitment to send a disc to a fellow user in a Peerflix prepaid shipping envelope, that member will receive a disc or discs from other members. (Some DVD’s are worth more than others, based on factors like popularity and retail price.) As in a file-sharing network, Peerflix manages the flow of content; traders do not select their partners.

“Your movies are doing nothing for you on the shelf,” Mr. Robinson noted. Peerflix charges members $10 a month or $2 a trade (there is a 15-day free trial). It plans to add video game trading in the fall.

The service has been in test mode for several months and has made a few adjustments. Some members, it seems, find it hard to part with their own DVD’s yet still want to take part. So as part of its monthly membership plan, Peerflix will provide them with company-owned discs with which they can start trading.

Here Comes Microsoft

Since Microsoft can’t just give it away, it’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft remembers how to operate in a competitive market: Microsoft Edges Into ITunes’ Turf

But it takes more than a software upgrade for Microsoft to catch up with Apple. The company also has to convince the music labels that its digital rights management technology isn’t easy to crack or circumvent, said Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner/G2. And Microsoft, its music allies and the hardware makers have to educate customers about the notion of “leasing” music, McGuire said.

“GYWOing” With Videogame Sprites

Instead of Microsoft clip art, videogame sprites: You, Too, Can Be a Comics Whiz

Video-game characters in a comic strip were not unheard of, but the remarkable thing about Anez’s comic was that rather than using drawings of the characters, he used the actual video-game character art — “sprites” in programming jargon — along with some simple backgrounds and word balloons. The effect re-created the feel of the game with a minimum of artistic effort.

Anez eventually got his scanner and twice attempted to launch the “real” Bob and George — a hand-drawn comic about superheroes in college — but both times he abandoned the strip and went back to the Mega Man characters.

“Eventually I realized that I can’t draw and that the hand-drawn comic idea was dead in the water,” said Anez. “So I stuck with the sprites.”

[…] Anez has made some attempt to resolve the copyright question. “A friend of mine asked them (Capcom) anonymously on my behalf and they replied with something along the lines of, ‘Sprite comics are illegal and Capcom will never officially endorse them.’ They’re almost certainly aware that sprite comics exist, but they’ve never contacted me to take them down, so I’m not sure what their unofficial stance is.”

Textbooks and Piracy

Is this the NYTimes’ effort to promote the PIRATE Act? In the Virtual Stacks, Pirated Books Find Eager Thumbs

He emphasized that he had sought alternatives to downloading books without permission by turning to publishers that allow readers to view a book’s pages one at a time. And he confesses to a sense of guilt over playing the role of a “leech.” But “as a student, I was pretty broke and couldn’t really afford $100 textbooks,” Mr. Ruesewald said. “I had to turn to the Web for help.”

He is clearly not alone. While the music industry’s effort to quash the trading of pirated songs over the Internet has attracted far more headlines, the unauthorized sharing of digitized books is proliferating in news groups, over peer-to-peer networks and in chat rooms.

The activity is all the more striking because making a book available online is as cumbersome as ripping a CD is effortless. Each page must be scanned, run through optical character-recognition software and proofread before the complete work is uploaded to a network or transferred directly to a recipient.

Yet a quick survey conducted with peer-to-peer file-sharing software revealed the digital availability of dozens of titles currently on the New York Times best-seller list …

[…] Envisional, a company based in Britain that tracks Internet piracy, estimates that 25,000 to 30,000 pirated titles are available on the Web. The vast majority are English-language titles, although pirated German, Spanish and French books are also plentiful.

An estimate of how many people are actually downloading the books is harder to come by, however, said David Price, a researcher at Envisional.


After two long days of participating in the ESD doctoral exams, I try to catch up on some things and come to this noxious story: Labels to dampen CD burning? [Slashdot] How dumb are these guys? Now they’re going to mess with people who actually buy their products (at least at the moment)?

Tools under review by the major labels would limit the number of backups that could be made from ordinary compact discs and prevent copied, or “burned,” versions from being used to create further copies, according to Macrovision and SunnComm International, rivals that are developing competing versions of the digital rights management (DRM) software.

[…] If implemented widely, the new technology would mark a substantial change in the way ordinary people can use purchased music, possibly alienating some customers, analysts said. Given the costs of piracy, however, the labels are moving ahead cautiously in the hope of striking on a formula that works.

[…] In addition to adding a new layer of copy protection on CDs, SunnComm and Macrovision each say their CD burning limitations could be applied to digital download businesses such as Napster or Apple Computer’s iTunes, which do not put any restriction on burned CDs. That potentially could set off a new round of skirmishes between such digital download businesses and the record labels over how consumers can use the music they buy online.

“What labels have told us is that their agreements (with the download services) are relatively short term, a year or under, and so they believe that they have the capability to require (the burning tools to be added) next time around,” Macrovision Chief Executive Officer Bill Krepick said.

Copyfight comments

Hacking Your Canon Camera

Canon Digital Rebel Hacked Into A Pseudo-10D

Reverb9 writes “When Canon introduced the Digital Rebel, the world’s first entry-level Digital SLR camera, many remarked on its similarities to the 10D , its $500 more expensive big brother. In fact, the two cameras share much of the same technology and so Canon implemented a number of software-based limitations to avoid destroying sales of the professional-oriented 10D. Now, a new hack that restores a previously hidden menu along with a few additional tricks has added nearly all of those 10D features to the Rebel, with an arguably superior user interface to boot. Canon has so far said little on the hack but certainly cannot be happy with its potential effect on sales. This is, however, a reality that more corporations are having to confront. In an era where programming labour is relatively cheap and computer connectivity more frequent can artificial, marketing-driven, barriers between technology products, last?”

DirecTV Dodges A Bullet?

Court dismisses DirecTV whistleblower case

John Fisher, a former police officer, resigned from DirecTV in October 2003 after working as a senior investigator with the company for just over a year. He claims he was effectively forced out because of his former employer’s unethical tactics. Instead of acting up as a legitimate investigator tracking signal pirates he ended up “as little better than a ‘bag man for the mob'”, according to Fisher’s March lawsuit. DirecTV knew that between five and 10 per cent of its targets were innocent, according to Fisher’s suit. Through the case, Fisher sought unspecified damages and an end to DirecTV’s tactics.

But a California Superior Court judge decided that Fisher’s case interfered with DirecTV’s right to petition government. The court therefore granted the DirecTV’s application to dismiss the lawsuit citing California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute. The decision is a legal set back against Fisher, who nonetheless continues to pursue a claim of unfair dismissal against DirecTV.

Followup: DirecTV’s anti-SLAPP slap to litigant

Digging Deeper Into The Distribution Chain

Two movie studios sue online seller of DVD-copying software [via GigaLaw]

Two Hollywood movie studios have sued an online retailer, accusing Technology One of defiantly selling DVD-copying software previously barred by two federal courts.

The lawsuit, filed in New York by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Paramount Pictures Corp., marks the first time a movie company has sued a retailer of the forbidden software by 321 Studios Inc.

[…] The latest lawsuit, announced Friday by the Motion Picture Association of America Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for New York’s southern district, where a judge in March barred 321 from marketing the software.

OT: The Other First President of the US

Too weird not to cite — proponents of including the presidents of the legislature under the Articles of Confederation: Can’t Recall 11th President? Got a Dollar?

When the Articles of Confederation established the first, loose union of states in 1781, it declared for the first time “the perpetual union” of the 13 states. And during the years it remained in effect, 10 different men presided over the legislature, serving as presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled. They conducted its business, in much the way President Thomas Mifflin signed the Treaty of Paris in which Britain recognized the new nation. No one is claiming those 10 men had powers and responsibilities in any way comparable to the presidents beginning with Washington.

But as Mr. Stanley says, “It wasn’t much of a president, but it was the only one we had.” And, under this reading of history, the first presidents were not Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison but Huntington, McKean, Hanson and Boudinot.