03:20pm UTC, 7 Sep 2003 [permalink]
I expect that only those using the RSS feeds will notice this; but I've bitten the bullet and moved over to WordPress - so my entries won't have to be so long. I have some design to work on yet, but the new site is operational and should have all the old posts.
Working with mod_rewrite makes it possible to find all old links, as the old site remains active and interpreting requests, albeit elsewhere in the web tree.
My new RSS feed purportedly comes in several versions: RSS 0.92 and RSS 2.0. There's also an RDF link.
Do they all work? Let me know if you have problems!
There are bound to be some glitches as things shake down, but I hope they won't be too bad.
2003 September 5 PM
10:08pm UTC, 5 Sep 2003 (Updated 10:11pm UTC, 5 Sep 2003) [permalink]
Sorry about the paucity of postings - the start of the term has kept me jumping!
2003 September 5
11:15am UTC, 5 Sep 2003 (Updated 11:40am UTC, 5 Sep 2003) [permalink]
Jenny Levine raises an issue: ALA Should Dump RIAA's Law Firm
The arrest of a notorious cybersquatter, John Zuccarini, has generated a lot of press:
A couple of MI2N press releases:
CNet News: eBay mutes iTunes song auction
eBay on Thursday canceled an auction that sought to resell a music download that was purchased through Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, saying the attempted sale violated its listing policies.
Looks like Kevin was up late to catch this bit: Music Biz to Give File Sharers Amnesty
Slashdot discussion: RIAA Offers Amnesty to File Sharers
The Recording Industry Assn. of America plans to announce an amnesty program this week that will let individual online copyright infringers off the hook if they change their ways, sources say.
The amnesty program would apply only to alleged infringers who have not been sued by the music industry trade group or identified by Internet service providers as a result of the trade group's subpoena process. Alleged commercial pirates will not receive amnesty.
According to sources, the RIAA will not pursue legal action if infringers delete all unauthorized music files from their computers, destroy all copies (including CD-Rs) and promise not to upload such material in the future. Each infringing household member will have to send a completed, notarized amnesty form to the RIAA, with a copy of a photo ID. Those who renege on their promise will be subject to charges of willful copyright infringement.
The amnesty program will be revealed at about the same time the RIAA is expected to announce the filing of "several hundred" infringement suits.
The RIAA had no comment.
2003 September 4 PM
09:16pm UTC, 4 Sep 2003 (Updated 10:02pm UTC, 4 Sep 2003) [permalink]
Sony's going to resolve its schizophrenia? We'll see -- the real question may be who won, the electronics division or the entertainment division. Sony to launch Net music service
Sony will launch its own digital music service next year, in a project that will see its music, movie and electronics divisions work closely together, the company said Thursday.
Since we're on the subject of DRM, we have this heartwarming CNEt News article: Microsoft moves forward on DRM
Microsoft moved forward on its digital rights management strategy this week, releasing the first of several Windows add-ons associated with the technology and revealing pricing on its server software for corporate rights management.
A key part of the company's strategy involves limiting access to digital files ranging from office memos to software applications.
Primary components of the plan include Windows Rights Management Services (WRMS), server software that will manage access to corporate documents, and new Information Rights Management tools included in Office 2003, the forthcoming update of the company's widespread productivity package.
The software giant also has spoken of broader plans for building "next-generation secure computing base" technology, formerly known as Palladium, into a range of products.
Slashdot's discussion of the Universal price decrease on CDs: Universal Music To Cut CD Prices
ExtremeTech reports that Phoenix Developing DRM-Equipped BIOS (Slashdot: Phoenix Bios to Incorporate DRM)
Here we go - who's ready to buy a machine with such a BIOS? And how long will it take for a firm with lots of cash and no love of DRM to offer an alternative? And how long before such machines are declared illegal in the US? And how long before the US computer industry implodes from black/gray market imports?
Phoenix executives said Wednesday that they've developed a prototype version of its Core Management Environment (cME) using DRM technology in conjunction with Orbid Corp., a DRM technology provider. The software was designed to assist content providers to authenticate and track software moving from PC to PC.
Although DRM technology has moved steadily forward, consumers have had some choice whether to implement it. Selected software providers in various markets, such as Intuit and Macromedia, have chosen to implement DRM, allowing consumers to choose DRM-less alternatives.
Phoenix's efforts, however, represent a more fundamental sea change. Phoenix is a manufacturer of BIOS software, the underlying code which ties together a PC's operating system and the system hardware. Since a personal computer must have BIOS installed to boot, a user could be forced to use the DRM technology whether he or she chooses to or not.
Slashdot discussion of the Ernest Miller interview of Ian Clarke: Ian Clarke, Ernie Miller On Free Speech, Privacy
Benny Evangelista must have enjoyed this: RIAA decries drop in CD sales
Slashdot discussion: RIAA Sales Compared to Download Statistics - with a worthwhile explanation (for those not up on the AHRA) of what "music cd-r media" are all about.
But analyst Phil Leigh said the record industry has to realize that sales of prerecorded music CDs will probably never recover. Indeed, Leigh said, the industry's own sales figures indicate a crackdown on file sharing may actually hasten the decline of the CD.
"The prepackaged CD, without a shadow of a doubt, is over the hill, and it's all downhill from here on," Leigh said.
Leigh, an independent digital media industry analyst, said the "fear factor" caused usage of file-sharing programs to drop about 22 percent in the seven weeks after the RIAA announced its plans to sue individuals.
Yet Leigh noted industry sales reports show the drop in CD sales accelerated during the same period.
[...] Later, through an RIAA spokeswoman, Sherman said the "issue is not the decline in CDs; it's the decline in people paying for the music that they acquire. We need to get people back into the habit of paying for music, whether it's from record stores or a legal online service."
The Register: 99c iTunes song auction bids top $100,000 - well, not anymore, but still.....
2003 Spetember 4 AM
11:16am UTC, 4 Sep 2003 (Updated 12:02pm UTC, 4 Sep 2003) [permalink]
(Announcement: FWIW, I'm getting within striking distance of moving FurdLog over to WordPress - for those interested, the dummied up site is here. I will be keeping this version of the site running, with appropriate nod_rewrite directives, for the forseeable future to preserve links, although I expect eventually to be able to put together the appropriate mod_rewrites to handle finding past entries with the new setup. I'll announce the change for those of you using RSS to access when the time is ripe.)
InfoWorld on the industry's belated realization that the Eolas patent litigation will require action by firms other than Microsoft, too: Microsoft's patent loss rattles tech community
Computer security experts initially hailed the announcement, speculating that the ruling might spell the end of Microsoft's ActiveX controls, notoriously insecure software components that allow software developers to integrate specialized functionality with Web pages.
But technology and legal experts agree that the ruling could affect a wide range of technology companies with products that interact with Web browsers, or services that rely on customer interaction through Web browsers.
"Fundamentally, (the Eolas patent) describes a way of implementing plug-ins in a Web browser," said Richard Smith, an independent technology expert in Boston. "People who use plug-ins like (Macromedia Inc.'s) Flash or Java applets are covered by the Eolas patent," he said.
[...] [Hector] Santos [of Santronics Software] feels that there is plenty of evidence that his company's product used Eolas' patented techniques before [Eolas' president Michael] Doyle filed for his patent in 1994 -- an argument known as "prior art" that can be used to defuse patent infringement claims. If anything, Santos is surprised that Microsoft wasn't able to successfully use such claims in its own defense.
One of the problems may be that technologists routinely underestimate the reach of patents, according to Smith.
"Technology people don't understand what patents are and they make big claims, like, 'Oh, it's just like this or that. There's prior art.' But there was none produced by Microsoft," Smith said.
The NYTimes points out that, even though the FCC's media consolidation regs have been stopped for the moment (U.S. Court Blocks Plan to Ease Rule on Media Owners [pdf]), there are plenty of reasons to rethink how the FCC thinks about media regulation overall: Must-Own TV [pdf]
The proposed [Vivendi-NBC] deal says as much about how the rapidly changing media landscape is shaped by regulatory policy as it does about Hollywood's timeless ability to seduce outsiders.
[...] Competing in this universe of vertically integrated media giants, it is understandable that NBC's management would want to pick up a studio, once one could be had for the right price. It must be painful for G.E.'s accountants to tally up those $10 million checks for each "Friends" episode, or the $8 million Universal wants for each "Law and Order" installment. Because studios have the right to sell shows' reruns in syndication, the pressing question for NBC is: Why rent when you can buy?
[...] Instead of debating how many of their local affiliates networks should be allowed to own - an anachronistic concern - Congress and the F.C.C. need to consider new rules to foster creativity in the new media landscape. Some new variation on the "fin-syn" rules may be needed at a time when more of these media giants own their shows, and control their distribution over cable or satellite television.
A reminder that technology helps and hurts the music industry: 26,000-Hit Wonder Keeps It Hopping
ON a rainy Monday night at 7, when most of the East Village bars in Manhattan are empty, a steady crowd is rolling into Hi Fi. Drinks are two for one until 8, but that is only one of the reasons many patrons choose the otherwise nondescript watering hole out of the many on Avenue A. They are there for EL DJ, an MP3 jukebox with 26,000 songs to choose from.
Mike Stuto, the 36-year-old owner of Hi Fi and the co-creator of EL DJ, says it has the biggest selection of any jukebox in the world. "The reason it's a great idea is because it's a simple idea," he said.
Mr. Stuto's basic idea was to digitize his music collection and make it available in a jukebox that held far more than the standard 100 albums. EL DJ, or Extra Large Digital Jukebox, includes tracks from 1,798 full-length CD's in Mr. Stuto's collection. Record companies might be pleased to know that he copied the albums individually onto the hard drive rather than downloading them Napster-style.
The artists range from the Replacements to De La Soul to Wilco. As with conventional jukeboxes, Mr. Stuto said, royalties are paid on the songs played.
[...] "Outside of the charming bartenders, it's the major draw," said Galen Polivka, a Hi Fi bartender himself, drinking there on his night off. During happy hours, "it's kind of a scholarly vibe," he said. "People want to impress their friends by picking the most obscure thing they possibly can."
If a song is excessively chosen it will be marked "overplayed," sparing anyone from making a choice considered common. Victims of overplay include Coldplay's "Yellow" and the Pixies' "Debaser."
The idea of identifying such songs was one of many originating with customers. From the response, Mr. Roven and Mr. Stuto concluded that there were two marketable products in EL DJ: a software program to equip home computers with similar capabilities, and a commercial version of the jukebox for bars, complete with computer hardware and kiosk.
Unreasonable search and seizure? An interesting argument to try to understand if it's made - the RIAA claims it's nonsense:
In court papers, the lawyers said they may argue that the RIAA violated state and federal laws by intercepting the woman's Internet address as its investigators scoured file-sharing networks looking for songs to download.
The woman, identified in court papers only as "nycfashiongirl," is contesting a copyright subpoena served by the music industry on her Internet provider, Verizon Internet Services, to turn over her name and address in preparation for filing a lawsuit.
[...] The defense team said it also may argue that the music industry was improperly affiliated with law enforcement and thus its perusal of music files on the woman's computer violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
Wired News: I'll Take My Music a la Carte
The popularity of Apple's iTunes song service has demonstrated that customers like to pick and choose their songs online. New statistics from the music industry indicate that labels are shipping more singles to stores, too.
But whether the stats signal the return of the single is still a bit of a puzzle.
Kevin's tracked the eBay response in this CNet News article on the auction offering of an iTunes song:
iTunes auction treads murky legal ground
I personally like Fred von Lohmann's commnet:
Informed of the auction by a CNET reporter, an eBay representative said the item would be removed, since "it does indeed violate eBay's listing guidelines on the sale of products delivered electronically through the Internet."
By contrast, von Lohmann said it's unclear whether Hotelling's auction is legal or whether it's allowed under Apple's terms-of-service contract for iTunes Music Store sales.
"It's a little bit of a murky area," he said. "It would make a pretty interesting law school exam question."
As a followup to yesterday's links on Chamberlain v. Skylink, Andrew Sitzer writes:
See, in particular, the IP Justice press release: Court Rejects DMCA Claim Against Garage Door Manufacturer: ‘Common Sense’ Prevails in US Copyright Case (Thanks, Andrew!)
IP Justice just released an information page regarding Friday's
landmark decision in Chamberlain v. Skylink which denied Chamberlain's
motion for summary judgment claiming that the Skylink garage door opener
violated the DMCA. This is the first real 'win' against the DMCA in quite
some time, and as such, is an excellent opportunity to re-excite people
for the cause.
Today's Boston Globe announces that the record companies are going to try some conventional methods to stimulate demand: Universal Music slashing CD prices in hopes of reviving sales [pdf]
Universal Music Group said it would cut the suggested sale price on a majority of its CDs by $6 to $12.98. The company hopes retailers will follow its lead and drop their CD prices to around $10 or less. The price changes would go into effect by Oct. 1.
[...] t was not immediately clear how retailers or other record companies would respond to the move, which comes as music sales are picking up on the Internet with Apple Computer Inc.'s breakthrough 99-cent-a-song offering. Company officials said they had not discussed the pricing strategy with retailers, who would be notified formally on Thursday.
[...] UMG's current wholesale price for a CD album is $12.02, with a manufacturer suggested retail price of $18.98. Under the new pricing structure, the wholesale price would be $9.09. The wholesale price for CDs by a handful of performers, including Eminem and Shania Twain, would be about a dollar more, said Jim Urie, president of Universal Music & Video Distribution.
[...] The recording industry blames its sales slump largely on illegal music swapping over peer-to-peer networks. The industry has begun to aggressively target people who share music using software by Kazaa and others.
But industry critics say the record companies have, for more than a decade, ignored the effects of soaring CD prices on sales. They also contend the artistic quality of music has deteriorated.
Amy Harmon's article on the same subject from the NYTimes: Universal to Cut Prices of Its CD's [pdf] The article includes an important statistic, buried inside the industry's standard claims:
The deep price cut - the only one to apply to new CD's since the format was introduced in the early 1980's - represents a gamble by Universal that more consumers will buy more CD's once the price dips below $13. It also reflects the profound degree to which Internet file-trading has managed to undermine the music business, Universal executives said.
The CNet News article has a snotty lead: Music giant plans to drop CD prices
The day after a report suggested the compact disc is heading the way of the 8-track tape, the world's largest music label conglomerate promised a steep cut in music CD pricing.
2003 September 3 PM
06:50pm UTC, 3 Sep 2003 (Updated 11:23pm UTC, 3 Sep 2003) [permalink]
The RIAA responds to Jane Doe: RIAA turns up heat on subpoena fighter
In papers filed Tuesday with a federal court in Washington, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said it did not oppose the anonymous Kazaa user's request to fight the subpoena seeking her identity but that any such motion should be filed immediately. Previously, "Jane Doe's" attorneys had asked for more time to prepare their case arguing that the RIAA subpoena, filed with Internet service provider Verizon Communications, violated her privacy and other constitutional rights.
[...] But the filings appear to be aimed as much at the court of opinion as at the real court bench, and both sides seem to be fighting a case that hasn't yet been filed. Last week, Nycfashiongirl's attorney told the court that his client had purchased a computer with music on it, had legally ripped her own CDs to her hard drive, and had used the Kazaa application to listen to that music. She had tried several times to prevent sharing that music with the outside world, her attorneys wrote.
Even while conceding that the information had little to do with the subpoena process itself, the RIAA spent considerable time in its legal filings trying to establish that the anonymous computer user was not an innocent victim. Nycfashiongirl, in fact, shared more than 900 songs online, many of them downloaded from Kazaa or even Napster, the briefs said.
This should be an interesting test of the first sale doctrine: Does the Right of First Sale Still Exist? (Slashdot discussion: Testing The Right To Resell Downloaded Music)
I just posted an eBay auction for a song I bought from the iTunes music store. It should be interesting to see how this works out. I only spent $0.99 on it but I bought the song just as legally as I would a CD, so I should be able to sell it used just as legally right?
[Update 09-03-2003 10:08 AM] Right now I've come up with a couple ways that the transfer of ownership could take place. One is to call up Apple and ask them to do it for me, which would be an interesting call. The other way would be to give my account to the winning bidder, which doesn't seem like a bid deal considering that I've only purchased one song. Still, I'd have to make sure that my credit card info was completely disassociated with the account. Or I could just create a new account and repurchase the song on that account.
See Ernest Miller's analysis of some legal gymnastics to protect the DMCA when it comes to movies, but not much more (in re: Chamberlain v. Skylink): Judge Asserts Pseudo Distinction to Preserve DMCA (Derek's additional thoughts and links: Ernest On Access Controls)
Since this is outrage against the RIAA day in the groves of academe, see Larry Lessig's math on these RIAA suits: Kluger Krugman
Nine days after MP3.com launched its service, the five major labels, headed by the RIAA, brought a lawsuit against MP3.com. MP3.com settled with four of the five. Nine months later, a federal judge found MP3.com to have been guilty of willful infringement with respect to the fifth. The judge imposed a fine against MP3.com of $118,000,000. MP3.com then settled with the remaining plaintiff, Vivendi Universal, paying over $54 million.
So defraud Californians of $9 billion, pay $1 million. (Ed. note: in re: this Paul Krugman column on Enron). But develop a new technology to make it easier for people to get access to music that they have presumptively purchased: pay more than $54 million.
Such are the values of our time.
The French courts see things differently: Crippled CD Deemed Defective In France
Here's what I get for not reading my morning Globe until the afternoon: Colleges plan music services [pdf] - the Penn State plan seems to have found favor here at my own institution - tragic.
Sorry - I've had a couple of months to stew over this idea since it was first floated, and I just don't see how this is anything more than an ugly solution that only makes things worse. (See also Spanier's view of filesharing in this NYTimes article: Recording Industry Goes After Students Over Music Sharing) Rather than trying to confront the real issues in the area, universities are just throwing money at the RIAA to make them go away - it just seems like a form of digital blackmail - and worse, it's burying the issue by making everyone pay via student fees.
In the latest effort to combat digital piracy, as many as two dozen universities nationwide this spring will start testing technology for delivering songs to their students over the Internet, recording industry officials and a prominent educator said yesterday.
Pennsylvania State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among the schools considering such a service.
[...] [Penn State president Graham] Spanier wants to license songs from digital music providers, make them available to students through streaming or download, and tack a few dollars onto each student's bill in the same way that some universities now charge for cable television.
"If music is that important to our students, one of the things we might do is simply provide the music to them," he said. "We can make what is now illegal legal by giving students legitimate access to these services."
In fact, it's also suspiciously like the blind eye that Microsoft and other firms turn toward univerisity student piracy of software. By getting the student trained (hooked) on MS software, firms are confronted with a fait accompli when it comes to outfitting employees.
I look forward to seeing how these universities are going to explain adding an RIAA tax to tuition next semester - heck, I look forward to seeing how it's going to be explained internally!
Maybe this is how the universities defend it: RIAA Prepares Legal Blitz Against Filesharers
2003 September 3 AM
11:12am UTC, 3 Sep 2003 (Updated 11:29am UTC, 3 Sep 2003) [permalink]
Off-topic, but an issue that I've (unfortunately) got more experience with than I would like: A Campus Fad That's Being Copied: Internet Plagiarism
"There are a lot of students who are growing up with the Internet who are convinced that anything you find on the Internet is public knowledge and doesn't need to be cited," Professor McCabe said.
The survey solicited students' comments about cheating, and one student wrote, "If professors cannot detect a paper from an Internet source, that is a flaw in the grader or professor."
Slashdot's take on yesterday's CNet article on Office DRM: Microsoft Prepares Office Lock-in
Hal Varian (!) reports on software interoperability: MOXIE: Microsoft Office-Linux Interoperability Experiment - Slashdot discussion: MS vs. Open Source Office Suite Compatability
The Register: CDs and DVDs are 'doomed' - marketing consultant projections - liberal application of salt recommended (remember the paperless office) - plus a little thought on Palladium/DRM might give one pause:
Slashdot discussion: The End of Physical Media - see David Stein's comment
CDs and DVDs are doomed - so say those soothsayers at Forrester, who reckon that the "end of physical media is nearing".
Forrester reckons that a third of all music sales will be made by downloads in the next five years. It also predicts that almost 15 per cent of films will be viewed by "on-demand" services such as cable TV rather than by DVD or video by 2005.
Although this will "wreak havoc" with traditional retailers flogging and renting the stuff, digital downloads and on-demand services could give the creative industry a much-needed shot in the arm, concluded the report From Discs to Downloads.
2003 September 2 AM
10:25am UTC, 2 Sep 2003 (Updated 11:56am UTC, 2 Sep 2003) [permalink]
A new term starts - and here's a little AP Wire start to your term: Colleges Move to Stop File-Swapping! [pdf]
Kevin Heller points to this TechTV article: Dark Tip: Block the RIAA- "PeerGuardian is a free program that hides your file sharing from known RIAA informants."
Julie Hilden on DVD CCA v Bunner: The California Supreme Court's Recent Decision On DeCSS, the DVD Encryption-Cracking Code:
Its Reasoning and Significance
The DVD industry is terrified that rather than buying or renting DVDs, movie watchers will just steal (or "share") them instead. And they are especially terrified that DVD copies will leak before the movie is even released - thus dampening demand for theatrical showings.
Because of the California ruling, that won't happen as much as it might have. In truth, though, this wasn't so much a case of secret-stealing, as of copyright combat. Once again, as has happened over and over in California courts, anti-copyright (and, to be fair, pro-First Amendment, and pro-"fair use") forces lost.
[...] The tactic of invoking trade secret law in this context is ingenious. But it's also a bit weird. Just because DeCSS decrypts CSS, doesn't mean it must incorporate CSS's trade secrets. (After all, a can opener doesn't resemble the can it pries open.) And how secret were these supposed secrets, anyway, if reverse engineering could reveal them?
However, the California Supreme Court did not address any of this weirdness. Rather, it assumed that, as the trial court found, DVD CCA will indeed be likely to be able to prove a trade secrets violation. Only time, evidence, and further trial court proceedings will show if this is actually true. In short, the trade secrets battle over DeCSS not only has not been lost - it was never even fought.
[...] In the end, it's hard to argue with the Court's decision as a matter of law. But as I've pointed out in a previous column, decisions that address dual-use technologies like the DeCSS code are always troubling because they tend to apply too broadly. Decisions like Bunner, of course, deny access to would-be copyright infringers. But they will also deny access to those whose only goal is "fair use" - such as film students who want to sample parts of DVD movies for a class project.
As long as criminal uses of dual-use technologies are the focus, and fair uses are virtually ignored, free speech and thought will be impoverished. Our society - and our courts - should worry about the good guys who want to make fair use of copyrighted material, not just the bad guys whose only goal is misuse.
GrepLaw follows up on Ian Clarke's (founder of Freenet) announcement that he was leaving the US: Ian Clarke on Freenet and his Decision to Leave the USA
# Why did you decide to leave the U.S.?
Several reasons really. Firstly, because the work I am doing now doesn't really require me to be in any particular location, I could probably work from the North Pole if I had a fast Internet connection. Secondly, because I don't like living in a country where, as a non-citizen, I am considered less deserving of justice than American citizens. Thirdly, because I feel that the direction intellectual property is being taken in this country, such as with the DMCA and software patents, make innovation much more difficult and risky here, particularly in the P2P space. There are many things I like about the US, but it just doesn't make sense to be here any more.
Notwithstanding the Audio Home Recording Act, I'm not seeing an easy future for this: TiVo for Internet Radio!. From the Replay Radio site:
Replay Radio is an incredibly easy way to record radio broadcasts. Just pick your favorite radio show, or select a station and a time range, and Replay Radio records it for you. It's like a VCR for the radio. Now you can listen to your favorite radio shows whenever and wherever you like! (Click here for a screenshot tour.)
Once your show is recorded, Replay Radio makes MP3 files for listening with an MP3 player or your PC. Or, you can have Replay Radio automatically make an audio CD for playback on a home or car CD Player. Everything happens automatically!
Replay Radio is software that runs on your PC. You can record anything you hear, including streaming audio broadcast from Internet radio stations. Hundreds of shows and stations are pre-programmed, making recording as easy as point and click. You can even use Replay Radio as a general purpose recorder for archiving audio books, saving music, monitoring online police scanners, recording from devices attached to your PC (like cassette decks or radios), or other uses.
I missed Siva's posting his latest at OpenDemocracy: Part 4: The nation-state vs. networks
Derek's on a roll:
This interview from CNet (Selling your personal data) touches on ideas explained far more compellingly and with clearer discussion of the policy issues elsewhere. See Andrew Odlyzko's paper instead: Privacy, Economics, and Price Discrimination on the Internet
New Office locks down documents. A new "feature" of Office 2003 is unveiled:
See - it's much easier to have your computer not trust you instead of training your staff to think before distributing data! And, of course, this side effect is completely unintentional:
Office 2003, the upcoming update of the company's market-dominating productivity package, for the first time will include tools for restricting access to documents created with the software. Office workers can specify who can read or alter a spreadsheet, block it from copying or printing, and set an expiration date.
The technology is one of the first major steps in Microsoft's plan to popularize Windows Rights Management Services, a wide-ranging plan to make restricted access to information a standard part of business processes.
The new rights management tools splinter to some extent the long-standing interoperability of Office formats. Until now, PC users have been able to count on opening and manipulating any document saved in Microsoft Word's ".doc" format or Excel's ".xls" in any compatible program, including older versions of Office and competing packages such as Sun Microsystems' StarOffice and the open-source OpenOffice. But rights-protected documents created in Office 2003 can be manipulated only in Office 2003.
"There's certainly a lock-in factor," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "Microsoft would love people to use Office and only Office. They made very sure that Office has these features that nobody else has."
A Register article suggesting that one should rethink saving MP3s on cheap CD-Rs: CD-Rs deliver degrading experience
Keeping data CDs in the dark for two years isn't a good idea. According to the Dutch magazine PC Active some CD-Rs degrade in months, even at room temperature without sunlight.
So here's an all too-probable joke to start your semester - NBC Announces Law and Order: RIAA Series:
Bound to be more exciting than Law and Order: Elevator Inspectors Unit
Lars Ulrich will star as a gritty New York detective and John Amos will play the chief RIAA lawyer. "Since most file sharing cases are civil and only consist of serving subpoenas, we had to take some liberties much like the RIAA," said creator Dick Wolf.
Not only will each episode feature a tense tracking and capture of a copyright violator, but also a performance by the artist being violated explained Wolf.
[...] Chairman and CEO of the RIAA, Mitch Bainwol said that he really enjoyed the pilot episode where a 13-year-old boy who downloaded an entire 50 Cent album without paying, receives a summary execution from 50 cent himself. "It's a great combination of 'ripped from the headline' legal stories and music promotion. I couldn't be more pleased," said Bainwol.
[...] "In the third episode we've filmed we follow several teens who purchase music legally from a Sam Goody, but then are beaten to death and have the music stolen as they exit the store by a band of music pirates," said Wolf. "Not more than 10 minutes later those legally purchased CDs are made available to millions of file sharers."
Apparently the EU Parliament listens to protests: Protests delay software patents vote; Slashdot discussion: Protests Delay European Software Patent Vote
From the CNet article
The European Parliament has delayed voting on a controversial software-patents directive, following protests and criticism by computer scientists and economists.
[...] The directive, drafted by Labor Member of European Parliament Arlene McCarthy, has generated political opposition from the Greens and the European Socialist Party (PSE), among others. The German and French socialist parties are using the delay as an opportunity to raise MEPs' awareness of the issues surrounding software patents ahead of the late-September plenary session.
A demonstration last week in Brussels, Belgium, that attracted more than 400 participants was organized by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and Eurolinux, among other groups, which also persuaded several hundred Web sites to black out their front pages in protest.
Digital Vandalism Spurs a Call for Oversight [pdf]
Slashdot discussion: Increased Software Vulnerability, Gov't Regulation
The Internet has become a vital part of commerce and culture, but it is still a free-for-all when it comes to facing computer meltdowns. As America's 156 million Internet users brace for the next round of digital vandalism, some experts say that it is time for the government to bolster a basic sense of stability in cyberspace that societies expect from their critical public resources.
[...] Proposals for government action being discussed by policy makers and computer security experts include strengthening the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity division and offering tax incentives to businesses for spending on security. Another proposal would require public companies to disclose potential computer security risks in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Unlike the airwaves or the highways, the Internet is not subject to government oversight. And even the specter of intervention can raise hackles among business leaders and technologists who see the Internet's openness as crucial to its success as a platform for innovation.
But the increasing frequency and severity of computer virus attacks -- last month's dual assault cost billions of dollars in lost productivity alone -- may have muted the antiregulatory reflex.
[...] But some longtime Internet users worry that decisions about security, if left in private hands, may balkanize a network whose openness is precisely what has permitted it to flourish. Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University law professor who is an expert on cyberspace, says, "There's an opportunity here for policy that would address the harms of worms and viruses and spam and invasions of privacy, without breaking the Internet."
Accompanying an article about whether or not Microsoft is entering its middle age, we get this Bill Gates interview: Virus Aside, Gates Says Reliability Is Greater
Slashdot discussion: Gates Says Windows Reliability Is Greater
A. Well, we've certainly made a lot of progress in terms of creating more reliable software, building tools so that people can stay up to date so that they don't run into these problems, creating the procedures that make sure that the recovery actions get widely communicated. We'd be the first to say that we're doing more and more on this. It was very important that we got the company focused on it, made it part of the reviews of all the different employees.
The fact that these attacks are coming out and that people's software is not up to date in a way that fully prevents an attack on them is something we feel very bad about. We want the update process to work so automatically that in the future these problems won't happen. The hackers are attacking not only our systems but other systems, and with the right kind of infrastructure and the right kind of work we can make sure they don't disrupt things.
Many Voices Enriching the Broth [pdf] - a music reviewer's lead suggests a cultural shift....
For the moment the CD album is still the way most music is sold. But its secret is old news by now: the CD is not a fixed artistic form but a data carrier. Individual downloaded songs, hard drives full of homemade mp3's, soundtrack albums, collections of current hits, handpicked disc-jockey mixes and the shuffle button on every new music player are all dismantling the album in the 21st century, and it could be argued that they all reflect actual listening habits and attention spans better than full-length, single-author CD's.
But because CD's are still the way most music is sold, there are plenty of stray songs around, waiting to join a full-length product. Here are three compilation albums looking for the sweet spot where aesthetics meet expediency.
A new channel for distribution offers up hope to an ailing industry, as the US cellphone market catches a European fad: Going Gold? Maybe, if Enough Cellphones Ring [pdf]
The music industry may be having trouble persuading people to buy its songs online rather than swap them without paying. But the cellphone market is another matter.
"Ring tones are really becoming what the single was," said Andy Volanakis, the executive in charge of ring-tone content for Sprint PCS's mobile phone division.
Sometimes the ring tone is even more popular than the CD. The dance-hall reggae artist Sean Paul, who records for the Warner Music Group, recently sold more copies of a synthesized digital snippet of his song "Get Busy" than CD singles of the same song. The snippet cost $2.50, compared with about $3 for a CD single.
[...] Yet some people say the labels are already making some of the same missteps that caused them to lose market share to music-swapping services. Some critics say they are overcharging for the use of their recordings, which will limit their use.
Music labels get 50 percent or more of the retail price when they sell CD's, Ms. Schloeder of Faith West said. But she said that was too much for the ring-tone market. "There's not 50 percent left in the ring tone because you're paying the carrier and you're paying for the billing system," she said. Publishers may also get a cut.
Others say the labels are taking too few risks in the ring-tone market, in the same way they were slow to experiment with distribution on the Internet. "I would like to see someone sell a CD that includes three ring tones for free," said Jonathan N. Schreiber, a consultant who advises recording companies and artist managers about wireless opportunities. "I don't know if it would work, but nobody else does, either."
If the market bogs down in squabbles between providers and labels, alternatives controlled by neither side could thrive amid the chaos.
2003 August 31
04:43pm UTC, 31 Aug 2003 [permalink]
2003 August 29
12:08pm UTC, 29 Aug 2003 (Updated 05:31pm UTC, 29 Aug 2003) [permalink]
Yet another "revolutionary" music CD delivery format: Sony Disc Manufacturing Successfully Manufacture Kool Keith's Newest Release "Thee Undatakerz" Using Consumer Surround Sound Inc. Revolutionary CS2CD Format
Wonder what the "gotcha" is? Going to have to do a little research.
When asked about the accompanying CS2ADC technology on the CS2CD, Mr. [William] Grecia [Consumer Surround Sound CEO] continued to add "CS2ADC prevent full 1:1 faithful cloning of a CS2CD disc as a whole. Unlike other restrictive commercial 'copy protections', CS2ADC allow full CD audio playback in PC's and DVD players. CS2ADC is the perfect balance between retaining consumers 'fair use' rights, and the music industry need for a retail product that consumers cannot (re)create with a CD/DVD burner. Mass piracy and duplication of this format is not an issue for my clients." When asked about the significance of a major record label's replication facility manufacturing the CS2CD, he concluded "Major record companies can use this format to boost and revive retail. My indie clients are replicating at the same places the big guys are. My next goal is to make a big impression at the upcoming CES show."
I missed Marci Hamilton's latest from FindLaw's Writ: The Era of Entitlement:
What Alabama Judge Roy Moore, File "Sharers," and the Catholic Church Have in Common
Now that I've read it, Marci does make a couple of reasonable points, mostly about the foolish moral relativism embedded in the arguments made by those who claim that record company greed justifies copyright infringement. But I also have to say that the whole thing reads like she's drunk some variant of the "neo-con Kool-Aid," and she likes it -- at least, this article reads more like a neo-con screed in tone, if not in content.
One of the real difficulties that she faces in making her argument lies in the perjorative nature of the word "selfishness." On one hand, the economic engines of the free market are fueled by the actions of consumers to satisfy their own interests. On the other hand, unbridled selfishness (or, possibly more appropriately, short sighted selfishness) is a recipe for a total social breakdown.
Prof. Hamilton argues that "responsibility" is the answer to the mixed blessing of selfishness. I can agree that responsibility is part of it, but I would argue that respect for others is a more important dimension. The fact that the record industry has treated their customers as suckers to be exploited to the full extent possible, rather than ensuring that they receive good value for their money, it at least as much at the root of the music as any of the limitations of the infringing public - just as the failure of Judge Moore to respect the religious views of others (and the legal needs of society) and the failure of the Catholic bishops to respect the rights of their parishioners are equally emblematic of critical failures.
We can't afford to have sociopaths in our midst, whatever their agendas.
Today seems to be a day of protest over software patent proposals in Europe. Slashdot: Sites Shut Down to Protest Software Patents. From the OnlineDemo information page:
The FFII organized an online demonstration against software patents. On August 27th more than 2500 web replaced their title page with a protest page against software patents. Days later, many are still doing so, and new ones are still joining. The idea is that with software patents many sites running/serving possibly patent infringing software have to go offline sooner or later. Via this demo, this effect is demonstrated in advance.
MS reponse to Eolas: Microsoft preps IE changes in response to patent ruling
JoHo points to Jane Doe's petition to intervene in the RIAA subpoena to Verizon
Mary Hodder discusses the state of trademarks in the wake of the Franken/Fox suit: I'm Trademarking "Trademark®" - she forgot to include "freedom of speech" (only one of several claims)
For some lighter fare, see this link [via TechLawAdvisor]: RIAA Claims Music On Car Radios Meant Only For Original Vehicle Owner!!!!
Derek's back from Calornia and loaded for bear, with two lengthy posts (first, second) on the Video Pipeline case (copyright infringement by a video firm constructing trailers for promotion of film rentals) [earlier Furdlog entry]. His posting goes into the characterization of fair use in depth, ultimately concluding that "[t]his is why fair use is like flipping a coin."
Or, more importantly, why there is a need to define fair use in a way that doesn't require the [expensive] application of a judge - chilling effects, anyone?
Infringing Actions points to the global reach of cellphones, ringtone customization and copyright litigation: Music Rights Society Accuses MTN of Copyright Infringement
Bruce Sterling on the fact that revolutionaries, digital or otherwise, need to do more than just depose the offensive order: Freedom's Dark Side
So Europe's open source revolutionaries have a great model for fighting the power. But they rarely consider the aftermath. As the former Soviet Union sadly demonstrates, if you depose the system and don't replace it with anything, you unleash not only altruism but a host of dark traits no less human yet far more destructive. When that happens, you may well get things like well, like this remarkable souvenir I bought for about $1 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It's a pirated audiotape of "turbofolk" music by Ceca (pronounced "Tsetsa"), the busty pop-star widow of notorious Balkan war criminal Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic. Ceca is in prison at the moment, mostly because her latest boyfriend allegedly helped assassinate the prime minister of Serbia to protect the illicit revenue of Belgrade's Zemun gang. When outraged avengers raided Ceca's crib, they found the place crammed with automatic weapons. That's like discovering Avril Lavigne has her own cruise missiles.
Thanks to this disaster for the people of the Balkans, I've got some nifty music to play in my walkman, and the information was practically free. Ceca won't get my money. Nor will her publisher, her backup musicians, her kids by the dead warlord, or her fellow mobsters. The Bosnians would never give Ceca her cut, because (a) they're amazingly crooked and (b) she's a Serb and they hate her guts. So, in an orgy of contempt for cops, lawyers, and WIPO, they steal her music, repackage it with lousy graphics and worse sound quality, and sell it for peanuts to passing Americans.
The denizens of Open Cultures want their connected collectivism to liberate the world from regulations, markets, and intellectual property. But what if victory only clears the way for corruption of their beloved culture? When I listen to Ceca, I have to wonder what dark passions and ancient evils have been held in check by the grim totalitarianism of the profit motive. We may yet find out.
Off-topic: An NYTimes op-ed piece use's a classic Melville character to describe a certain languor that comes over me from time to time these days, as well as warning that resisting it is of vital importance: When Life Offers a Choice Between the White Wall and the Brick Wall [pdf]
I've been thinking about Bartleby lately, probably because my job compels me to follow world events. The mess in Iraq presents two seemingly unacceptable possibilities: staying and having our soldiers killed daily, or leaving and ushering in chaos. The only thing worse than confronting the North Koreans about their nuclear weapons program, it seems, is not confronting them. On the domestic front, omnibus bills in Congress routinely tie the necessary to the intolerable. After the blackout Republican leaders refused to separate out a proposal to upgrade the power grid from a larger bill that gives the energy industry tax breaks, and the right to drill in Alaskan wildlife preserves. For Californians, sending a strong message that the recall is an outrage means pulling the lever beside Gray Davis's name.
I have friends who now talk cheerily of self-imposed "news blackouts," taken on to spare themselves the latest reports of corporate malfeasance, layoffs and killings of bus riders by suicide bombers. In today's world of bleak alternatives, however, Bartleby's story is a sobering reminder that what life requires is remaining engaged -- preferring, and acting on those preferences. Contemplating Bartleby's sad end may give us some strength as we continue to stand up for troubling foreign policy options, settle for anemic legislative victories and vote for the lesser of two, or more, evils.
As the clock ticks toward Microsoft's deadline for taking MSN's instant messaging protocol private (and locking out the authors of IM clients), MS is making an offer it hopes won't be refused: Microsoft seeks cash from IM client makers.
Writing an operating system is expensive, too, yet Microsoft seems to *want* people to build upon that; IM is really *that* much harder to run? Or is Microsoft just yearning for another opportunity to extract monopoly rents?
Microsoft isn't targeting rival IM network operators such as America Online Inc. or Yahoo Inc., but makers of clients that use the Microsoft MSN IM network and compete with Microsoft's own MSN Messenger client.
[...] "Running an (IM) network is expensive," said Lisa Gurry, group product manager for MSN at Microsoft. "We can't sustain multiple other people's businesses, particularly if they charge for certain versions of their software. We're introducing licensing processes for third parties like Trillian."
Microsoft is making changes to its network that will lock out "unlicensed or unauthorized third-party clients." The first phase of those changes is scheduled to go into effect mid-September, followed by a complete lock-out on October 15, Microsoft has said.
KaZaA is working to move up in the world. InfoWorld: Kazaa launches premium service; CNet News: Kazaa retuning promises faster downloads
Kazaa Plus offers enhanced search, enabling people to start searches that run every 30 minutes for a 24-hour period that could yield up to 9,000 results. Customers will be able to download files from up to 40 sources at one time, up from only eight in the advertising-supported version. The update also includes enhanced virus protection.
2003 August 28 AM
12:07pm UTC, 28 Aug 2003 (Updated 05:26pm UTC, 28 Aug 2003) [permalink]
Looks like the W3C has issued a comment on Eolas v. Microsoft. See the Slashdot discussion: Plugin Patent to Mean Changes in IE?
More in an occasional series of postings here on how technology is changing the market and culture of movie-making: DVDs are for losers
New rule: DVDs are for losers. Hey, why pay $9 to watch garbage in a crowded theater when you can pay 24 bucks and actually own that garbage? After all, "Kangaroo Jack" is the kind of film you need to see 10 or 12 times before you really "get it." Be honest, you're not a cinephile, you're a dateless 30-year-old watching "Die Another Day" in your basement.
DVDs, you see, are evil because they now account for over half the money Hollywood makes, and they're all bought by the young, dumb, car-crash-loving male demographic, the same one that's given us MAXIM magazine, attention deficit disorder and George Bush. Also, since the little teenage darlings who control all media are not old enough to see R-rated movies, our entire culture is now PG-13 -- the kind of blanded-down mush designed to be as inoffensive as possible to the widest group possible, the same theory that made airline food what it is today. And that's what movies are now: airline food.
Online music broadcasters sue RIAA [pdf]
CNet News: Small Webcasters sue RIAA
An alliance of online music broadcasters sued the recording industry in federal court Wednesday, alleging major record labels have unlawfully inflated webcasting royalty rates to keep independent operators out of the market.
Webcaster Alliance, an organization claiming some 400 members, filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming the major labels and the Recording Industry Association of America have maintained a monopoly over their music.
The suit alleges the negotiations for arriving at royalty rates to broadcast songs over the Internet violated federal antitrust laws and seeks an injunction that would prevent the major labels from enforcing their intellectual property rights and collecting royalty payments.
Slashdot carried an article on the threat to do this in early July: Webcaster Alliance Threatens To Sue RIAA.
Here's The Register's story: Webcasters slap RIAA with antitrust suit, which includes discussions of how the original royalty levels were set - see this RAIN article from June 2002 for more background on the issue: Cuban Says Yahoo!'s RIAA deal was designed to stifle competition.
RAIN also covered the Judiciary Committee hearing on this subject: Copyright Royalties: Where is the Right Spot On The Dial For Webcasting (includes streaming video)
Update: Slashdot: Small Webcasters Sue RIAA
From the Boston Globe: Recording industry discloses methods to track downloaders [pdf]
With luck, these filings will eventually reach the EFF archive. Magistrate Judge John Facciola's WWW page
The RIAA's latest court papers describe in unprecedented detail some sophisticated forensic techniques used by its investigators. These disclosures were even more detailed than answers the RIAA provided weeks ago at the request of Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who has promised hearings into the industry's use of copyright subpoenas to track downloaders.
CNet News' article: RIAA turns up heat on subpoena fighter
Update: Slashdot discussion: RIAA Tracking Songs by MD5 Hashes
2003 August 27 AM
01:10pm UTC, 27 Aug 2003 (Updated 03:38pm UTC, 27 Aug 2003) [permalink]
Larry on the history of compulsory licensing: the changing tune of the record producers
Ed Felten points us to his interview in Business Week: Fighting for Freedom [pdf]
Q: Do you think intellectual property changes when it becomes digital?
A: It has to change. And especially for copyrighted works, the business aspects have to change. [With digital material] everything becomes cheaper and easier -- any kind of processing, distribution, and use. Even if there were no illegal copying, the advent of digital distribution will put a lot of stress on the movie and music industry. When the distribution costs comes down, that puts more price pressure on the rest of the cost.
When you buy a CD, $10 goes for distribution and delivery of that product -- printing, shipping, [the] record store clerk. The other $7 or $8 of the prices doesn't seem so high. If it costs cost 5 cents to get something to the consumer, people are less happy about the other $7 or $8.
Kevin points out this disturbing Detroit Free Press editorial: Don't delete Internet privacy [pdf]
Nice to see it stated so nakedly in a mainstream press piece.
Privacy is destroyed because it has become so easy to reveal the identity of Internet users. Now, a copyright holder simply fills out a one-page form and a federal clerk immediately issues the subpoena to the Internet service provider (Verizon Online, AOL, MSN, etc.). The service provider must then release the name, home address and phone number of that user. Internet service providers risk large penalties if they even question the validity of the subpoena.
Perhaps the most dangerous consequence, the ruling puts subpoena power in the hands of anyone willing to pretend to have a copyright claim. Without a judge's review, these fraudulent requests are impossible to distinguish from legitimate ones. This flood of legally sanctioned harassment will quickly become the "New Spam," with the kinds of abuses as limitless as the Internet itself:
A gay pornography Web site has already issued subpoenas to SBC Communications to try to learn the identity of visitors to the porn site. Other porn sites and gambling sites can track down visitors and demand payment not to reveal the user's identity, all under the pretext of enforcing the site's "copyright."
The most common use may be that of Web site operators who want to identify their visitors for marketing purposes or for more nefarious reasons, including identity theft, fraud or stalking.
Private investigators will gain an unstoppable way to turn any e-mail address into a person's name and street address.
Aptly titled interview with Al Franken following his "fair and balanced" victory: "They can dish it out, but they can't take it"
So this is the mindset of the right, that they have to punish you. Joe Wilson, the former Gabon ambassador, was sent to Niger by the CIA and came back and said the uranium claims weren't true. And when the controversy started broiling again about the 16 words in the State of the Union address and Wilson wrote the piece in New York Times, senior administration officials blew the cover on his wife, who was a covert [CIA] operative. And it jeopardized the lives not only of her contacts but every American, because she was a covert agent in weapons of mass destruction. And it's a way of intimidating other analysts who might come forward, and there's a parallel here: You will be punished if you come after us.
I really think the Wilson thing is the most disgraceful action of any White House since Iran Contra.
More than Clinton and Monica?
There's a difference between getting a blow job and lying about it, and blowing a national security asset.
Slate's ad reportcard article of a day ago on reworked music in videos comes at us from a different angle at JoHo: Devo Swiffer (including links)
SFGate's writeup of Bunner is a little calmer than some of the recent rhetoric has been, although the headline is still inflammatory: Court rules against DVD copying:
Trade secrets must be protected, justices say.
Matt's comments are up. Keven Heller's got a good set of links that I'm sure I should have read (especially Eugene Volokh's comments) before I posted my own comments here.
MP3 Newswire has an editorial on CD economics, arguing that P2P filesharing's influence is really about eroding an artificially-created scarcity rent in music:
Slashdot discussion: Diamonds & the RIAA
Congress is told by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) that file trading is theft. In reality the P2P services bring balance to a system long unfairly tilted to favor the supplier. Records are still selling in a world where 60 millions US citizens file trade. A recent Nielsen/NetRatings poll shows file trading actually helps sales.
But file trading also will keep the record companies in check. The rules have changed and the days of excess profits are numbered. The record industry needs to adjust.
If the existing record industry cannot adjust, someone new will come in to take their place and - like makers of $5.00 diamonds - will profit handily not by intentionally restricting sales, but through volume.
I see that I have some learning to do to catch up on the PanIP patent litigation.
This Slashdot story brought it to my attention: PanIP May Be Standing On Shaky Ground
If you own or operate an e-commerce web site then you are us. And you need to know that a company in San Diego, Pangea Intellectual Properties (PanIP LLC) is suing companies all across the country. They claim that if you use graphical and textual information on a video screen for purposes of making a sale, then you are infringing on their patent. US Patent No 5,576,951.
And if you accept information to conduct automatic financial transactions via a telephone line & video screen, you're infringing on their patent. US Patent No. 6,289,319
GrepLaw's interview of the P2P subpoena's "Jane Doe" plaintiff gets the Slashdot treatment: 'Jane Doe' Lawyer Glenn Peterson Talks With GrepLaw
The Register: Intel 'may be guilty' of over hyping Wi-Fi. Wonder what Les Valdasz would have to say?
A look at derivative works and popular culture: Jack Kirby Heroes Thrive in Comic Books and Film [pdf]
The Kirby influence can also be seen in "The Matrix" and its sequel by the Wachowski brothers, who are comics fans. In the "Matrix" pictures, comics readers can notice parts of Kirby's "X-Men," like the intense band-of-brothers philosophy that held the mutants together and the mixture of popular culture and mythological grandeur rooted in "X-Men" and "Thor," Kirby's turn on the Norse gods. When Neo travels from the outer world of the Matrix to Zion, the world-within-worlds scenarios that Kirby pioneered in comics are visible. These movements are reminiscent of the Negative Zone, a netherworld that Kirby conjured for "The Fantastic Four."
There are elements of the "Star Wars" mythology in "Matrix." But the idea of a hero turning out to be the offspring of the most inconceivable evil, an immensely grim force that dominates out of pride, did not begin with George Lucas. In 1971 Kirby left Marvel after disagreements over rights to characters he had helped bring to life. After going to DC Comics, the home of Superman and Batman, Kirby hammered together a new vision: an expanse of planets and the gods that controlled them called the New Universe, which unfolded in the "New Gods," "Forever People" and "Mister Miracle" comics.
With the malevolent overlord, Darkseid -- who turns out to be the father of Orion, a damaged warrior-hero who has to battle a barely sublimated streak of cruelty -- Mr. Lucas's "Star Wars" archvillain, Darth Vader, can clearly be glimpsed.
Also, we have this article: The Magic of Comics! While Batman Turns 64, a Fan Goes Back to 9 [pdf]
What else is different? Some mainstream comic book characters now curse. No more #$!%#@. They have sex. No more speculating about the sex lives of the superheroes. They bleed in red, not black, and they bleed a lot more than they used to. "The Sopranos" take on the world has spilled into comic books.
But the cross-pollination works both ways. On some days, doesn't it seem as if we live in Comic Book Nation? In the last year the Marvel characters Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Hulk and the X-Men have all done big box office. "The Road to Perdition," "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and "Men in Black" movies were all based on comics.
And there's more to come. Never heard of Hellboy or Hellblazer? You will. On television plenty of recent shows either are based on comics or ooze the pulpy comic book feel: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Witchblade," "Smallville," "X-Files."
In hard rock there's no question that larger-than-death acts like Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot pay more than passing homage to comics. And on the fields of play, weight-training and steroids have turned athletes into true Hulks, although sans green skin and purple trunks.
Amicus briefs in the Grokster appeal are cited in this CNet News article: RIAA, studios gain P2P legal aid
Several groups, including a list of legal scholars, international copyright organizations, legal music services and other copyright holder groups filed "friend of the court" briefs Tuesday, asking that an April ruling upholding the legality of file-swapping services such as Grokster and StreamCast's Morpheus be overturned.
Today's Boston Globe paints a glowing picture of game "modders" without getting into the copyright litigation that has come along with many of their activities:
'Mods' squad adds new life to old games [pdf]