I’m Sure Larry Doesn’t Care

But it’s still weird to see someone who follows this topic attribute this idea to Fred. I mean, Fred’s a true believer and all, but it’s Larry Lessig’s story: Despite the revamped iTunes, DRM is here to stay

But if DRM doesnt do anything to stem piracy—and, indeed, seems only to make piracy more attractive—why do companies keep crippling their content? Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an ardent opponent of copy-protection software, argues that DRMs main purpose is to allow entrenched publishers to control innovation that occurs around them. Before DRM, content producers were subject to disruptions caused by other peoples ideas: You might have a nice business selling second-run films, but then someone goes and invents a home-movie machine and suddenly youve got to fight in a brand-new industry. DRM changes that dynamic. Because copy-protection software is protected by federal law, wrapping all movies, music, and software with DRM allows companies to force innovators to ask for permission before creating something new. Say you invent a tiny portable movie projector and want your customers to be able to convert their DVDs to small files that can fit on the projectors removable drive. Youre out of luck—DVDs are protected by DRM, and you can be sure that Hollywood would ask you to pay for the privilege of letting people play their legally purchased movies on your new device.

Glenn Greenwald on a Roll

Not that it’s going to make one whit of difference — but I’m glad that someone’s at least paying attention: The DOJ pursues the “real criminal” in the NSA spying scandal

Meanwhile, the only person to pay any price from this rampant lawbreaking — Tom Tamm — is the one with infinitely less power than all of them, the one who risked his job security and even freedom to bring to the nations attention the fact that our highest government officials were deliberately committing felonies in how they spied on us.  Those who broke the law and those who actively enabled it — the Cheneys and Haydens and Rockefellers and Pelosis and Harmans — all protect one another, and have virtually every political and media elite righteously demand that nothing be done to them.  

But there is not a peep of protest over the ongoing, life-destroying persecution of the former DOJ lawyer whose conscience compelled him to do what those cowardly Democratic leaders would not do:  take action to uncover rampant criminality at the highest levels of our government.  Harry Reid is a real tough guy when it comes to the momentous goal of preventing Roland Burris from entering the Senate. Dianne Feinstein is enraged over the grave injustice that she was not told in advance about the new CIA Director.  Is it even possible to envision a Democratic Congressional leader — many of whom eagerly enabled most of the abuses of the last eight years undertaken by the Bush administration — objecting to the ongoing persecution of this whistle-blower, someone who did the job they were all either afraid or unwilling to do?

That’s Americas justice system in a nutshell:  the President who deliberately and knowingly violated our 30-year-old law making it a felony offense to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants has the entire political and media class eagerly defend him against prosecution.  Those who enabled him — in both parties — block investigations into what was done. […]

Tired Of Pushing A Rope

But can you remove the DRM from the old stuff? Probably not without violating the DMCA — unless that was part of the deal Apple negotiated:
Apple cuts copy protection and prices on iTunes
(pdf)

Apple Inc. closed its final appearance at the Macworld trade show Tuesday by cutting the price of some songs in its market-leading iTunes online store to as little as 69 cents and disclosing that soon every track will be available without copy protection.

Later, from the New York Times editorial page (2009 Jan 09): Apple’s Long-Awaited Shift on Music

We applaud Apple’s decision to do away with the digital rights management software. Apple is acknowledging the failure of the restrictive copyright protections championed by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It also is recognizing something fundamental about music lovers that restriction-free online vendors know. Most of us will buy, not steal, digital music, even if it lacks copyright protection. Shared music is the best advertisement for the music we will eventually purchase.

The Risks of Getting What You Asked For

Blu-Ray won the format war — now what? Blu-ray Format Struggles With Uncertain Prospects (pdf)

[M]any eyes will be on Blu-ray, which for the first time has the floor largely to itself as the heir apparent to the DVD. Over the last decade, DVD players and discs have generated tens of billions of dollars for Hollywood and the consumer electronics industry, so the pressure for a blockbuster sequel is high.

This year will be crucial for the new format. Heavy holiday discounting and the natural decline in electronics prices over time have pushed prices for some Blu-ray players under $200, a drop of well more than half in the last few years — and into the realm of affordability for many. At the same time, Blu-ray’s backers, including Sony and the Walt Disney Company, face a growing chorus of skeptics that says the window for a high-definition disc format may be closing fast.

One reason is that discs of all kinds may become obsolete as a new wave of digital media services starts to flow into the living room. […]

BookSearch — An Update

Google Hopes to Open a Trove of Little-Seen Books (pdf)

For scholars and others researching topics not satisfied by a Wikipedia entry, the settlement will provide access to millions of books at the click of a mouse. “More students in small towns around America are going to have a lot more stuff at their fingertips,” said Michael A. Keller, the university librarian at Stanford. “That is really important.”

When the agreement was announced in October, all sides hailed it as a landmark settlement that permitted Google to proceed with its scanning project while protecting the rights and financial interests of authors and publishers. Both sides agreed to disagree on whether the book scanning itself violated authors’ and publishers’ copyrights.

In the months since, all parties to the lawsuits — as well as those, like librarians, who will be affected by it — have had the opportunity to examine the 303-page settlement document and try to digest its likely effects.

[…] So far, publishers that have permitted Google to offer searchable digital versions of their new in-print books have seen a small payoff. Macmillan, the company that owns publishing houses including Farrar, Straus & Giroux and St. Martin’s Press and represents authors including Jonathan Franzen and Janet Evanovich, offers 11,000 titles for search on Google. In 2007, Macmillan estimated that Google helped sell about 16,400 copies.

Authors view the possibility of readers finding their out-of-print books as a cultural victory more than a financial one.

Living in a Surveillance Society

It’s important not to forget that there are upsides to surveillance: Murder Case Dropped After MetroCard Verifies Alibi pdf

Both brothers were charged with fatally shooting a man in May who prosecutors said was a government witness in drug and gun cases. They could have faced the death penalty had the government decided to seek it.

While the men were in jail, Jason Jones’s lawyers asked New York City Transit to trace his movements on the night of the murder, using his MetroCard. The results showed that the card had been used on a bus and later on a subway, roughly five miles from the shooting, as Mr. Jones had maintained.

Both brothers said on Wednesday that they felt relief, but also anger that they were arrested in the first place. “Right now, it’s a combination of feelings,” Jason Jones said. “It messed our life up totally.”

“I’m still scared,” he added. “Sometimes I feel like I can’t walk outside without turning around to see who’s walking behind me.”

Good plan, I’d say.