Eolas Appeal

Been busy all afternoon – the carefully worded CNet headline: Appeals court revisits Eolas decision

The decision: Eolas Technologies, Inc., et al. v. Microsoft Corp. (more reading)

A quick skim suggests that there’s some interesting content here about what constitutes public release (a WWW posting is sufficient according to the decision) and what constitutes a component of an infringing product (software code/”gold” code counts as a component in this case)

Slashdot has an even clearer headline: Appeals Court Sends Eolas Case Back For New Trial

Later – the NYTime’s Patent Ruling Against Microsoft Is Thrown Out; WaPo’s Microsoft Ruling Overturned

Vonage’s Citron Claims A Position

Vonage’s Citron Says VoIP Blocking Is ‘Censorship’

In an exclusive interview here Tuesday [March 1], Vonage’s chief executive said the issue of the company’s recent incident of having some VoIP traffic blocked reaches beyond the market for IP-based voice communications and into the realm of free speech — and as such, should be protected by the courts, the FCC, or by new telecom regulation that ensures free and open access over the Internet.

“What is this [port blocking] really all about?” said Citron, who was in San Francisco Tuesday for the Reuters Technology Summit. “It’s really censorship in a way.”

[…] The advanced features of network analyzers, Citron said, already allow administrators to look not only at what types of packets are traversing their networks, but into the actual content of the packets. Port blocking of VoIP traffic, he opined, is a step down a slippery slope that could lead to network owners blocking content or Web sites they disagreed with.

“What happens if [network operators] use technology to peer into your packets and read and see what you’re doing?” Citron asked. “If they have a particular view of the world, they could just stop any news article that purports to go against that view. If they’re [already] looking in the packets for SIP, or for instant messaging, where does the line end?”

Elsewhere in Advanced IP Pipelines, we have Can Vonage Avoid Getting Squeezed Out?

Forget about port blocking, the relatively simple method used to temporarily cut Vonage’s virtual lines. What’s coming next — or what may be already happening — is a bandwidth squeeze, where network administrators use shaping and prioritizing techniques to slow time-sensitive applications like VoIP to a crawl.

The techniques and equipment used can vary, but according to various networking sources the deed will go down like this: A network operator identifies traffic it doesn’t want on its network (which could be Vonage VoIP, or something similar, like online gaming or file-sharing), and assigns it a “low priority,” meaning it gets transmitted only after every other type of traffic goes through the Internet door.

Technically, that’s not “blocking” traffic, per se. But it is an effective — and harder to prove — way of ensuring that latency-sensitive traffic like VoIP has a good chance of failing to get to the other end on time. Even if such tactics are revealed, expect to hear telecom-company lawyers insist that the techniques were employed to ensure that bandwidth was reserved for the operator’s own resources, and for the traffic generated by its paying customers.

Probing Cellphones At The Oscars

An Oscar Surprise: Vulnerable Phones

Three employees of the company, Flexilis, founded two years ago by four University of Southern California students, positioned themselves in the crowd of more than 1,000 people watching celebrities arrive at the Kodak Theater. John Hering, one of the company’s founders, wore a backpack in which he had placed a laptop computer with scanning software and a powerful antenna.

The Flexilis researchers said they were able to detect that 50 to 100 of the attendees had smart cellphones whose contents – like those of Ms. Hilton’s T-Mobile phone – could be electronically siphoned from their service providers’ central computers. The contents of Ms. Hilton’s phone, including other celebrities’ phone numbers, ended up on the Internet.

[…] The researchers said that their stunt, which scanned the red carpet from about 30 feet away, was meant to raise awareness of a threat to privacy that is becoming more common as advanced cellphones carry a growing range of personal data, including passwords, Social Security numbers and credit card information.

“Celebrities, V.I.P.’s, executives and politicians are among the most vulnerable to this kind of attack, because they are frequently the first to adopt new consumer technologies,” Mr. Hering said.

He also noted that despite extensive security measures at the Oscars, his company’s surveillance activities went unnoticed. “We were only doing this passively, but it was possible that someone could have been standing right next to us doing this maliciously,” he said.

[…] The Flexilis team said their concern was not with Bluetooth itself, which contains adequate security protection, but with the way the technology has been used by many manufacturers. “We’re attempting to raise the level of security in the wireless world to the same standard that is now expected in the wired world,” Mr. Hering said.

OT: Taking the Marketing a Little Too Far

It’s one thing to play a feuding to promote a record, but this seems more than a little out of control: Rapper’s Potshots on the Air, and Gunshots at a Radio Studio

A feud between two once-chummy rappers – both survivors of past shootings, with 16 gunshot wounds between them – appears to be behind gunfire in the snowy streets of the West Village and outside a Midtown office late Monday night, the police said yesterday.

Fun Fact Via A Controversial Technology

A popularity metric that might not exist had content providers been in charge: Foxx win is most TiVo’d Oscar moment

Jamie Foxx’s passionate acceptance speech for his best-actor award for “Ray” was the Oscar moment most replayed by TiVo viewers.

[…] The second most-popular moment with TiVo digital video recorder customers was the best-picture win by Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” which captured a total of four awards.

[…] The audience analysis is based on a sample of 10,000 anonymous TiVo households, the company said. It has 3 million subscribers.

Additions To My Reading List

CoCo points to Olufunmilayo Arewa’s “From J.C. Bach to Hip Hop: Musical Borrowing, Copyright and Cultural Context” (December 2004). Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 04-21,” which certainly merits a look, but a footnote in the early part points to a topic that Arewa refers to, but elects not to pursue, that looks equally striking – Michael Carroll’s “Whose Music Is It Anyway?: How We Came To View Musical Expression As A Form Of Property — Part I” (a paper is “forthcoming” in the University of Cincinnati Law Review). The abstract is enticing:

Many participants in the music industry consider unauthorized downloading of music files over the Internet to be “theft” of their “property.” Many Internet users who exchange music files reject that characterization. Prompted by this dispute, this Article explores how those who create and distribute music first came to look upon music as their property and when in Western history the law first supported this view. By analyzing the economic and legal structures governing musicmaking in Western Europe from the classical period in Greece through the Renaissance, the Article shows that the law first granted some exclusive rights in the Middle Ages, when musicians’ guilds enjoyed the exclusive right to perform music in medieval cities, but that the concept of music as a form of property was not established until early music publishers received exclusive rights in their publications during the Renaissance. The Article concludes with thoughts about how this history should influence the way we address the current controversy concerning uses of music on the Internet.

Even later (p.97), a few hints at alienation concepts close to my own heart:

To determine whether the concept of property in music that vests initially with the composer or authors of the sound recording will continue to make sense, we should consider the new possibilities. First we should consider whether we relate, or want to relate, to music as an intersubjective experience shared among composer, performer, and listener, and mediated through the digital object of recorded music, or do we as listeners interrelate with recorded music as object only. Then we should ask whether property in music is the appropriate legal framework to structure that relationship.

In 2003, intersubjective relations appear essential for at least some sorts of music. With most popular music, the persona of the music’s composers and performers plays as important a role now in how audiences receive the music as it did when Renaissance publishers first began touting the credentials of their composers. The same can be said for composer-audience relations with respect to classical music and most jazz. But some forms of instrumental music serve as little more than musical wallpaper, in which the audience’s interest is solely in the qualities of the musical object. Consider the commuter with jangled nerves who tunes in the radio station featuring “Smooth Jazz.” The commuter may well be indifferent to whether the soothing sounds emanated from Kenny G or a Power Mac G5. For such computer-generated music, property rights will not have induced creation of the specific compositions, although property rights may induce creation of the software that generated the composition.

For the foreseeable future, though, changed material conditions seem unlikely to alter our collective preference for at least some human-composed and human-performed music. Our task, in that case, is to assess whether the changed material conditions presented by digital technology, insofar as human musicmaking goes, are sufficiently significant to cause us to abandon or alter our notions of musical property.

RIAA: N+753

Still pushing on the collegiate sales program for Napster et al.: Copyright Infringement Lawsuits Brought Against 753 Additional Illegal File Sharers

Among those sued today are users of computer networks at 11 universities and colleges, including: Hamilton College; Louisiana State University; Louisiana Tech. University; Loyola University Chicago; Ohio University; Old Dominion University; Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute; Texas A&M University; University of Southern California; Vanderbilt University; and Wright State University.

A Look At The Mechanics Of Film Restoration

WB on DVD

Nearly a decade into the DVD era, most studios have figured out how to do at least decent digital mastering. Few major-label DVDs these days look bad. What puts Warner Home Video a notch or two (or three) above the rest? I talked with George Feltenstein, senior vice president for Warner’s classic catalog, and Ned Price, VP for technical mastering, as well as a few outside industry specialists. Here’s what I found out.

First, the condition of Warner’s film library is in relatively good shape. As a result of media meltdowns and mergers over the past half-century, Warner Bros. owns not only all the films made under its own studio logo but also all RKO titles and all MGM films made before 1986. (For details, click here.) In the 1960s, long before film preservation became a popular cause, MGM was one of two Hollywood studios–the other was Disney–that decided to preserve all its films. They spent millions of dollars to repair, properly store, and in some cases meticulously restore original negatives, black-and-white nitrates, or duplicate copies. As for Warner Bros.’ own black-and-white classics, original nitrates were long ago donated to the Library of Congress or UCLA, which stored them in temperature-controlled rooms and left them, ever since, untouched. To the extent possible, Warner DVDs have been mastered from the original negatives, preventing degradation in detail, sharpness, color, and contrast.

Then there’s Warner’s work with Technicolor. Even with careful preservation, color negatives fade over time. But Technicolor negatives can look as good as new after decades. This is because Technicolor films consisted of three black-and-white negatives, which ran simultaneously through a special camera.

Deregulation is for Perverts, Apparently

And here I thought that the bedrock of “blue” state political ideology was no regulation and free markets. Howard Stern can run, but he can’t hide, I guess: Senator fights cable ‘indecency’ [pdf]

“Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area,” the Alaska Republican told the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents most local television affiliates. “I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air” broadcasters.

“There has to be some standard of decency,” he said.

Stevens told reporters afterward that he would push legislation to apply the standards to cable and satellite radio and television.

Later: Slashdot’s Attempt to Apply Decency Standards to Cable/Satellite Television

Even later: WaPo’s Senator Bids to Extend Indecency Rules to Cable [pdf]

Also, consider this related consequence of regulatory discrimination: a discussion of the growing number of cable channels accepting paid advertising from companies selling distilled spirits, something the broadcast companies currently won’t do: Another Marketing Barrier Falls

Later: Ernest Miller’s thoughts on the constitutionality of this plan: Regulation of Indecency on Cable/Satellite May Be ConstitutionalEmail This Entry

Later: CNet report Senator suggests targeting Net ‘indecency’