2003 August 7 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-07 12:05:44)

  • Mary points to this guardian article on viral marketing featuring the spoof Metallica copyright infringement lawsuit: Word of mouse

  • From the NYTimes: Oyez! The Supreme Court, Now on MP3

  • I missed this yesterday: Congress, the new copyright bully on ACCOPS:

    Rather than making a seemingly endless number of ad hoc proposals, Congress needs to develop an integrated policy about criminal copyright infringement. To do so, Congress needs to realize two things. First, it is not acceptable to put average Americans at the peril of going to jail for doing everyday activities. Second, if the existing laws are not yielding the desired results, perhaps they were bad policy, in which case making them tougher only compounds the initial policy failure.

    […] If the record industry thinks that its problems warrant litigation, they should use the laws that are already on the books. Of course, those lawsuits come at some risk, as they require the industry to sue its customers. But the record industry, much more so than government prosecutors, can determine the cost benefit of suing customers to reduce infringement. If the record industry decides that lawsuits are not worth it, what does that say about the need for criminal enforcement?

    Thus, Congress’ anger at the American public for continuing to infringe is misdirected. Instead, Congress should be angry with copyright owners for failing to use the many powerful tools that Congress has already given them. If Congress wants a sensible policy to stem infringement, try this: Before giving industry advocates new laws, make them prove that they took full advantage of the laws that Congress gave them the last time they asked.

  • Slashdot chronicles the ever-more-bizarre SCO claims: SCO Targets US Government, TiVo, citing several articles. A particularly incisive comment:

    […] I think this isn’t only a last desperate gasp by SCO for some money, I think its a desperate gambit by proprietary software interests to kill OSS before it kills them. The stock manipulation thing is too transparent to be the only goal of the SCO attacks.

    Or maybe I’m just giving too much credit and being too conspiracy theory. What the heck, it’s interesting to consider.

    As an aside, how bitter is the cup of vindication Stallman must be sipping from right now? And those who thought he was a bit too evangelical in his stance must at least be taking a moment to reflect that what he has been warning and working against is now beginning to happen right in front of us. Additionally, had people been more willing to acquiesce to the idea of using GNU/Linux as the name of the package used, it may have been more readily appearant to even laymen that even were SCO’s claims valid their “contributions” still represent a ridiculously small amount of the overall package and thus their claim would have been more obviously worthless. I’ll leave that for others to debate.

    In related news, CNet has an interview with Red Hat CEO

    Matthew Szulic on the Red Hat suit.

2003 August 6 PM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-06 15:18:42)

  • Speaking of revisionist historians, Ed Felten jumps into to correct some misconceptions, as well as demonstrating what the phrase "chilling effects" means: Revisionism

  • Via The Shifted Librarian (who also points to Z’s Legal Affairs article of a couple weeks ago) links to a BBC article, Stopping the pop-swappers, wherein the BBC’s interpretation of CD sales statistics leads to a different conclusion:

    In America and the rest of the world the biggest culprit in falling music sales is large-scale CD piracy by organised crime.

  • Anita Ramasastry discusses privacy here: Why the ACLU Is Right To Challenge The FBI’s Access to Library, Bookstore, and Business Records Under the USA PATRIOT Act.

    And, if you missed it before, I highly recommend reading this provocative Andrew Odlyzko paper (something I got to do on this trip): Privacy, Economics, and Price Discrimination on the Internet. A recapitulation of a lot of Hal Varian‘s economics, but very well put together with the problem of privacy on the Internet (and with an excellent bibliography).

  • From Benny Evangelista at SFGate: Kazaa use down after threats:

    Crackdown’s impact on file sharing unclear, which includes the following Neilsen/Netratings statistics:

    Here are

    the number of times each file sharing program was used over a seven-day period:

    File sharing programs 7-day period beginning


    7-day period beginning
    7-day period beginning
    Kazaa 6,526,000 5,409,000 4,912,000

    Morpheus 272,000 244,000 NA
    iMesh 255,000 227,000 271,000
    BearShare 192,000 308,000 234,000

    As well as this very important observation that I see here for the first time in print:

    The latest Neilsen data were challenged by the Australian firm that distributes Kazaa. A spokesman for Sharman Networks Limited said its data since June 25 show only normal seasonal fluctuations in Kazaa usage since June 25, when the RIAA announced plans to sue individuals who offered copyright protected songs for others to download.

    In addition, Kevin Bermeister, chief executive officer of Altnet, a Woodland Hills (Los Angeles County) firm that sells songs legally using Kazaa, said there’s been a consistent 15 percent drop in downloading each of the last three years during the summer, when some of the biggest users, college students, are on vacation.

  • Today’s copy (August 6; V 123,No 30) of The Tech has a pretty thorough rundown of the RIAA suit against MIT, but it’s not online yet. If it doesn’t come up soon, I’ll have to transcribe and post it myself

    A few key (disquieting) quotes:

    "The conversation we had with TDC [a fraternity] was, ‘If you provide us the logs, then …. once we get a legitimate subpoena, then we can act legitimately,’" [Prof James] Bruce said.

    "’If you do not provide us the [DHCP] logs, then … once we get a legitimate subpoena the only recourse we have it to point to you,’" Bruce recalled MIT saying to TDC.


    As a result of the matter, MIT will revise its agreement with fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups — for whom MIT provides free high-speed Internet access — "to say that they will need to provide us the logs on a reasonable basis."


    "I believe that the decision of whether we should change the fundamental architecture of our network so we can always know who’s using it, which may, by the way, add significant burden, … that’s a decision the community has to make," said Jeffrey I. Schiller ’79, MIT’s network manager. "I think that’s a community decision and should be made that way."

  • In re; Fritz Hollings’ retirement announcement – here’s the transcript from his WWW site: TRANSCRIPT: Hollings Not to Seek Re-Election in 2004.

2003 August 6 AM

(entry last updated: 2003-08-06 10:04:05)

I have a lot of catching up to do, both online and in the real world. The SCO stink is particularly notable, but I need to get two off-topic thoughts off my chest:

  • Joe Lieberman is a weasel: Lieberman Denounces Tilt to the Left [pdf] So, revoking the foolish Bush tax cuts is now a tax increase?

  • Fritz Hollings may not understand the relationship between copyright and innovation, but he certainly does understand the role of the president: Hollings Plans to End Half-Century in Politics [pdf]

    “We’ve got the weakest president and weakest governor in the history of my 50 years of public service,” he said. “I say weak president, in that the poor boy campaigns all the time and pays no attention to what’s going on in the Congress. Karl Rove tells him to do this or do that or whatever it is. But he’s out campaigning.”

    “He’s a nice fellow,” Mr. Hollings said of President Bush. “You can’t find a better fraternity brother.”

    OK – I just needed to do that – I saw Sen Hollings’ comments once on CNN while I was away, and it was immediately sanitized out of all subsequent coverage that I saw anywhere else.

  • Kevin Miller points to, and comments on, this Marci Hamilton column: Why Suing College Students for Illegal Music Downloading Is the Right Thing To Do

    While Prof. Hamilton makes some good points, such as

    In a culture without copyright, only the rich, or the government-sponsored, could be this culture’s full-time creators. Poor artists like Loretta Lynn would have to flip burgers long into their music careers – and might even give up on music entirely.

    she seems to have missed a key dimension of the issue – the fact that copyright and technology have necessarily adjusted in concert with one another. She seems to feel that all that technology has done is make it easy for people to forget that copyright is relevant (see next item), without noting that the availability of these technologies has also lowered the barriers that the putative next Loretta Lynn will have to overcome in order to (a) get her music out there and (b) develop mechanisms to exploit her creation economically.

    Overall, I think Prof. Hamilton’s article conflates the concept of copyright with the incarnation that we have today. As others have noted, the argument is not generally about whether there should be copyright – rather, it’s about what sort of copyright is able to compensate creators without inhibiting innovation in both the artistic and technological spheres. This is a balance that is going to have to be struck – I just wish that Prof. Hamilton had done a better job showing that it has always been there.

  • A New Pew report on music downloading: Music Downloading, File-sharing and Copyright: A Pew Internet Project Data Memo From the Introduction:

    The struggle to enforce copyright laws in the digital age continues to be an uphill battle for content owners. Data gathered from Pew Internet & American Life Project surveys fielded during March – May of 2003 show that a striking 67% of Internet users who download music say they do not care about whether the music they have downloaded is copyrighted. A little over a quarter of these music downloaders – 27% – say they do care, and 6% said they don’t have a position or know enough about the issue.

    The number of downloaders who say they don’t care about copyright has increased since July-August 2000, when 61% of a smaller number of downloaders said they didn’t care about the copyright status of their music files.

    Of those Internet users who share files online (such as music or video) with others, 65% say they do not care whether the files they share are copyrighted or not. Thirty percent say they do care about the copyright status of the files they share, and 5% said they don’t know or don’t have a position.

  • Slashdot also has a story about one of ILaw’s favorite jurisdiction cases, HavenCo: HavenCo In Trouble?, based on this CNet News story, Has ‘haven’ for questionable sites sunk?

  • The Register has an article that dredges up a few bits of copyright history that I’d not seen before: ‘Golden Age of Free Music’ vs ‘Copying is Stealing’

  • And we have a number of comments on the SCO "licensince" blackmail

2003 August 3

(entry last updated: 2003-08-03 22:39:49)

  • Hey, I’m on the road, and I don’t have time for much, but I’ll certainly make time for this – from today’s NYTimes wedding announcements (thanks to Karen for alerting me!): Melissa Henriksen, Siva Viadhyanathan [the pdf will have to wait until I get back to the office] Congratulations!!

    I now know two people whose weddings were listed in NYTimes – my mom and now Siva