Monday, February 28, 2005

EU Commission Denies Restart Software Patent Directive

The European Commission has denied a restart of the Software Patent Directive despite a request by the European Parliament. The President of the Commission, Barosso, expects that "in this point of the decision procedure" the Directive will become "formalized" as quickly as possible. Apparently the Commission thinks that there is a general agreement in the EU Council on the Directive, even though there is no majority vote anymore among the Member States. Barosso does not speak about this, and is focused on the next step in the procedure, a second reading by the European Parliament.

A spokesperson for the Commission states that "It is very easy to make changes" to the Directive in a second reading, "that's the way democracy works within the EU". That an absolute majority is needed to make these changes is something he does not add. Floris Mueller of has his own thoughts on the democratic value of the Commission's move:
"A wannabe Napoleon who heads the Commission and a Microsoft puppet that runs the DG (directorate general) in charge have decided to negate democracy."
The "Microsoft puppet" is Irish Commissioner Charly McCreevy, of whom Mueller suspects that he had his reasons to oppose a restart: Microsof it Ireland's biggest tax payer and "with its tax-haven program for the European subsidiary of U.S. corporations, once-poor Ireland has within less than two decades become Europe's wealthiest country by various statistics."

More rhetoric, more demonstrations, more lobbying, more thwarting of the "democratic" decision process to come.
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Sources: Heise (German) &

Hip Hop & You Do (Legally) Stop

Lifted from SSRN, a paper on Hip Hop that explores the musical tradition and copyright application: From J.C. Bach to Hip Hop by Olufunmilayo Arewa. That is the same Arewa who recently published this massive paper on Gershwin & Copyright.

Here's the abstract:
Tremendous controversy exists today about legal treatment of hip hop music. Having just reached its thirtieth birthday, hip hop is now the second most popular type of music in the United States and an important musical and cultural force globally. The advent of hip hop has raised serious copyright law concerns. At the core of such concerns is the issue of sampling, or the use of pieces of existing recorded music within hip hop works, which has been deemed in some instances to constitute copyright infringement. Professor Arewa discusses issues that arise in the application of copyright to music generally as well as historical and cultural aspects of the hip hop debate. In discussions of music, particularly in the legal field, hip hop is considered within a tradition that values independent and autonomous authorship of musical works and that consequently reflects pervasive romantic author discourse. Within such discussions, the manner of music production of great masters of the European classical tradition may be seen as a model of musical production against which musical forms such as hip hop are often at least implicitly measured. The image of the classical tradition embedded in such discussions is, however, inaccurate and distorted. The classical music tradition is an invented tradition that was largely constructed in the nineteenth century and that no longer operates as an active tradition to which new works are being added in any quantity. Actual practice within the classical tradition varies significantly from the idealized imagery of this tradition evident in legal discourse about music. The image of the classical tradition is important because through characterizations of this tradition, hip hop musical production is distinguished from other methods of making music in a number of ways through the use of a series of implicit and explicit dichotomies. In looking at this classical tradition historically, however, it is clear that much continuity underlies the production of music generally, particularly in relation to musical borrowing, which was common in the European classical tradition in actuality as opposed to its constructed history. The varied uses of musical borrowing suggest that more careful consideration needs to be given to the extent to which copying and borrowing have been and can be a source of innovation within music and by extension elsewhere. Recognition of such borrowing needs to be incorporated into existing copyright frameworks as a basis for the development of commercial practices and liability rule based legal structures for treatment of music, including hip hop, which uses existing works in its creation.

Scottish Soccer Windows/IE Only

For all you Scottish soccer fans with a Mac-Firefox setup, forget about streaming those live matches: this DRM does not abide to the unholy duo:
Unfortunately, we cannot support viewers on Mac platforms at this time due to limitations with Digital Right Management on that platform.
And while you're at it, dump Firefox for Internet Explorer:
There is a known issue with an embedded Windows Media Player and Firefox, this is not just an issue on this site. We've had reports of severe buffering in firefox which was rectified by using IE.
And if you've done so,
You may be asked to upgrade your security components, which is required. [bald in original texts]
Nice, due to an incompatible DRM scheme you need a Windows-IE security tie with mandated upgrades for your viewing pleasure.

Music Biz Cashes In on Ringtones

This New Yorker article gives some background on a new money field being ploughed by the music industry: ringtones for your cell phone.
Record labels, convinced that they have lost millions of dollars in CD sales to MP3 file-swapping, have been especially attentive to ringtones, and they love master tones. Polyphonic ringtones are essentially cover versions of songs: aggregators must pay royalties to the publisher, who then pays the songwriter. But master tones are compressed versions of original recordings, which means that record labels—the entities that typically own recordings—are entitled to collect a fee, too. That fee can be considerable: record labels get twenty-five per cent of every master-tone sale (though they must pass along a portion of their take to the performer and the publisher).

Les Watkins, the vice-president of Music Reports, Inc., a music-licensing and accounting firm, said: [...] "The aggregators accepted rates and terms that they really didn’t have to accept, and agreed to license the music in such a way that they’re overpaying by a tremendous multiple.

US Market (Not) Antagonistic towards DRM

Sony BMG thinks that the US market is ready for DRM controlled CDs: Sales Enterprise co-president Jordan Katz says "the company wants to alert the industry that it is implementing the content-protection technology, because extensive consumer research indicates widespread customer acceptance of it." Maybe Katz has read this new report Digital Rights: Content Ownership and Distribution by Parks Associates, some market research firm, which states in its press release: "Contrary to widely held industry beliefs, U.S. consumers are not overwhelmingly antagonistic toward the concept of copy-restricted music CDs, provided these CDs come with the proper incentives".

The words "not overwhelmingly antagonistic" are an interesting choice for a report that cheerfully concludes that "when given a choice between a normal music CD and a 'copy-once' CD priced $5 less, 33% of those who do not rip CDs and 27% who rip CDs preferred the copy-once CDs." So, to keep in the crude phrasing, two thirds of the (CD) users do not prefer a 'copy-once' CD, even at a lower price. Note how the accompanying graph displays this outcome:

Rather than giving a straightforward answer to the question
if consumers will accept copy restriction (Yes/No), the No is displayed as a choice for CDs, not against copy restriction.

The distinction between rippers and non-rippers is interesting, if one takes it as a difference between users who do and do not make active fair uses (presumed that the do's keep from (subsequent) infringing uses). With a margin of 6% it seems that even the people that do not copy CDs (yet), are not so eager to hand over this possible (fair) use. I would say that there is an awareness with (these) users that copy-protection is not something to buy into under the current conditions. And I'd say that a median of 70% saying "No" could qualify as "antagonistic", overwhelmingly or not.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

DRMs and Fair Use & Privacy Design

Just a pointer for the day, to an online article which tackles the problem that the context-based concept of fair use is very hard to encode in DRMs. The article, with graphs and all, proposes a form of licensing to get around this, and also takes a look at privacy issues on the way: Concepts and Design for Fair Use and Privacy in DRM by Pasi Tyrväinen.

Here's the abstract:
Typical digital rights management (DRM) systems used for piracy protection in content distribution provide access to encrypted content only on the hardware identified in a digital license. This hardware locking restricts fair use, e.g., by preventing copying content for private use. Using hardware identity, media distributors can also link together all customer purchases, which can threaten customer privacy. The need to design DRM systems and electronic commerce business models that allow fair use is commonly agreed. But the intelligence and contextual factors that a judge uses in interpreting the legal limits of fair use in the US cannot be fully implemented in the licensing rules of DRM systems. However, approximating fair use by licensing would be well in line with the requirement of the EU copyright directive and would also serve customers in the US by reducing the need for costly human evaluation. We propose approaching this problem by a set of new design concepts bringing access to process context information to DRM license control systems. These concepts provide privacy by separating user and product identities and by enabling distribution history tracking. The fair use licensing proposed does not violate privacy although it maintains the advantages of hardware locking. It also enables new added value services for customers on back-up services and on re-sales of content products.
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This is a cross-posting with the INDICARE blog

Friday, February 25, 2005

Lego Mini-Steve

To enter the weekend on a light note, an example of geekish (and somewhat freakish) techno culture mash: the Steve Jobs Lego minifigure. Coinciding with the 50th birthday of the Apple CEO the PodBrix site put a hand painted, limited edition mini-Steve on sale, complete with a keynote background and truly iPod mini and iPod Shuffle. All 3oo units were sold out under 36 minutes.

EC Investigates iTunes, EU Named Intermet Villain

At the moment the Europe Commission is confirmed to investigate the unfair pricing charge against the UK iTunes Music Store (Apple does not allow UK users to do cross-border shopping at cheaper European iTunes Music Stores), the European Union has been awarded the Internet Villain Award by the association for UK ISPs (ISPA):
"The ISPA Council awarded the Internet Villain title to the European Union for threatening the 'Country of Origin' principle, which has encouraged e-commerce across the EU, and for the Draft Framework Decision on Data Retention."
Strangely, Macworld suggests that the record fine awarded to Microsoft for "illegal anti-trust activity" (by the Commission) might be one of the reasons for the award. Still nice that the whole European Union is labeled an Internet Villain. Some good old anti-European sentiments coming from the UK Isle, or just a bad framing of words?

EU Council Adopts Anti-Hacking Legislation

On Thursday the Council of the European Union officially adopted the Framework Decision on Combating Serious Attacks against Information Systems. This "anti-hacking" legislation determines that intentional access, without right, to the whole or any part of an information system is punishable as a criminal offence where the conduct constitutes a serious attack". Also the hindering and interruption of the functioning of a computer system by, for example, transmitting and inputting, deleting, damaging and altering computer data or making computer data inaccessible, will constitute a punishable attack.

The Framework Decision has been criticized for being overbroad, and possibly also criminalizing legitimate security research(ers). The Council has taken a proposal for a security researcher's privilege to test computer systems without having to fear punishment out of the original version of the European Commission. Under the adopted legislation it becomes unsure if and when the disclosure of system weaknesses becomes punishable. As this Heise article (German) on the subject points out, systems will not get more secure by introducing jail time for hackers, but by patching the security holes they might exploit and/or expose. The Framework Decision seeks to counter serious disruptive hacking and "cyberterrorism", but in its growing fear of the last it may also criminalize attempts to foster what it seeks to secure: the internet.

Internet Metaphors

The New York Times published a small column with some figures on TV watching and internet usage today, titled The Internet: It's the New TV. Frank Field over at Furdlog gets pretty angry over it, and under the title "Warning! Dangerous Metaphor!" he writes:
The media industries keep trying to turn the Internet into TV – this kind of presentation helps to set the frame for the discussion. The content of the article is grist for those who want to turn the Internet into TV; an idea to be fought however it raises its head.
I see his point, though I think the title of the column is especially misleading to its own content, since it more or less just notes that people have changed in their TV hours for internetting. However he clearly touches on something that is all to often overlooked: the way metaphors are used and misused to fit upcoming technologies (e.g. the internet) in old (network) moldels. Here's an excerpt from my (draft) essay on Code & Speech that I will put up at SSRN in some time [references omitted]:
Social relations resulting from these incumbent communicative networks tend to be preserved by the institutions, the nodes of control, which provide them and feed from them. They have an interest to sustain the existing framework, which is often projected on emerging technologies. For example, while the Internet’s architecture undermines the technological and economical justifications of the broadcasting model, it has been interpreted in light of, and fitted into, that structure. Network effects and transition costs from existing to new technologies can create an institutional lock in, which puts the status quo into a perpetual motion. The approach of new technologies may often be coloured by an old perception. Use of certain metaphors and analogies both strengthens and conceals this.

“Metaphor structures conception,” writes Moglen. If the general conception of communication networks is dominated by the broadcaster – consumer metaphor, the premise for regulating the Internet may be the aforementioned asymmetrical concentration of production and distribution. A mind set, which at first sight clashes with the Internet architecture. However, many people’s earliest thoughts on the Internet were formed by a different metaphor, that of the “Information Superhighway”. Injected into the public consciousness over a decade ago it makes certain assumptions about the Internet's nature. Obviously it is a reference to the glorification in American culture of the road as a pathway to personal freedom. That is, the individual transcending the community. It implies movement, the transfer of information from point-to-point. With super speed and no time to stop. This is not the one- way communicative street of the broadcasting model. Here reign the rules of the interactive one-to-one communication of telephony. Or so it may suggest and capture the public imagination.


There are other metaphors, like “Cyberspace as a place”, “the global village”, and even “Code is law”. It is not that these metaphors and analogies have no value, or no basis in reality whatsoever. They can give guidance in the struggle to define the characteristics and legal boundaries of a new technology. But applied on the Internet as a whole they may deny its specific architecture, and diverse possibilities. The Internet should be taken on its own technological merits, and not reduced to some abstraction.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hail to the Flag, It's the 1st of July

My INDICARE article was just published online: Hail to the flag, It's the 1st of July. It's a bit of a basic roundup of the argumentation against the broadcast flag, with some European elements. I'll give you the introduction and bottom line. Between those an insufficient security regime, trampeled user interests, and innovation under pressure.

Bells ring-a-lingin’, firecrackers poppin’
Lighting up the sky
Hail to the flag, It’s the 4th of July

Roger Miller – The 4th of July

Three days before Americans celebrate Independence Day and salute their flag in a display of fireworks, another flag will be introduced with less fanfare: the broadcast flag. This flag is not about independence, but will have to be saluted nonetheless. In order to protect digital over-the-air television signals against unauthorized (re)distribution, especially via p2p networks, all devices capable of receiving these signals will become dependent on the broadcast flag regime and its executioners. For users of digital television content and manufacturers of consumer devices the 1st of July will be marked as "Dependence Day".
Bottom line:
The fear of content producers of commercial harm by unauthorized redistribution of content they provide may be legitimate. Through the broadcast flag (video) content producers do not only try to protect their content, but also their existing business models. The video content industry has sought to project its incumbent network model on the internet and other developing technologies. Both innovation and user interests may be trampled in the process. Exemplary of this projection is what a representative of Hewlett-Packard had to say over an FCC approved content protection measure: "While developing the Video Content Protection System, we continually kept the perspective of the person sitting in their living room watching TV as a dominant part of the equation" (see PhysOrg 2005). This is the image of the consumer as couch potato, locked-in to his home network, dependent on the will of an incumbent industry, which sets the rules for the future.

Don't Click "Next Blog"

If you're using Microsoft's Internet Explorer, according to this TechRepublic article:
Visitors to Blogger's network have complained that they were exposed to infected sites when they used the "Next Blog" link. The feature was designed to help people discover new journals and takes Web surfers to a random Blogspot site.

"They left the back door wide open," said Ben Edelman, a Harvard University researcher who has documented the vulnerability on his site, referring to Blogger.


Visitors to Blogger sites at say they have been targeted with pop-up ads seeking to deliver malicious code to their computers. One ad erroneously warns people that their computers are vulnerable to spyware and prompts them to click the ad to protect themselves. Clicking the ad launches a download that infects a machine with spyware.

I'm not running MS IE, and find the "Next Blog" feature kind of amusing, ejecting you in new worlds, seemingly at random (is it actually?). Though, clicking through for awhile makes it painstakingly clear that Blogspot is used more and more for advertising purposes. And that some goofy Asian kids put a lot of time in designing gut-wrenching eye bleeders of templates.

Cartridge Expiration Date Workarounds

In light of the lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard over the expiration date of their cartridges, two ways to fix the problem that presumably work are easily found online:

1) Remove and reinsert the battery of the printer's memory chip
First, I disconnected the power and the printer cable, just to be sure. Then, I reached inside and carefully removed the battery. I waited for about an hour, and then reinserted the battery and plugged everything back in. Viola! I was able to make a copy. Tried printing-- that worked too.
2) Preemptive: Change the parameters of the printer driver
Search for hp*.ini and edit the ones with the latest dates. If you configure the printer driver first, see below, the file date should read today.

In it there is a parameter something like pencheck. It is set to 0100. I think this is a boolean because I tried other values without effect. Set it to 0000 in the file and save the file and REBOOT.

DRM & Open Source

Is the implementation of DRM in open source applications detrimental to the spirit of free software? Or do developers not even have a choice in this matter? Here's a reference to a discussion between KDE developers, building an open source PDF reader (KPDF), who are confronted with the copyright claim over the PDF specs by Adobe, which only gives permission for implementation if "reasonable efforts" have been taken to also implement (DRM) restrictions.

Telephone Wiretapping

In the spirit of Hunter "There's no such thing as paranoia. It's all real." S. Thompson: the illustrated basics of how telephone wiretapping works, and which (US) laws apply.

Broadcasting & P2P: Disruption of Market Incumbents

Somewhat in line with the broadcast flag postings, a very interesting looking report on broadcasting and p2p: Broadcast TV and Broadband Video: Collission and Disruption by Stephen Griffiths. Released yesterday, under a creative commons license, it points out one of the important, but sometimes overlooked issue: the disruptive power of p2p to the incumbent broadcasting (business) model. The broadcast flag is a key example of how an incumbent market tries to projects its will on a rising technology, instead of adjusting to it.

Here's the (executive) introduction of the report:
This report examines the collision between broadcast television and broadband video, what new innovations are at play for scheduling or distributing video, and analyses if any are disruptive to incumbents, and what that would mean for the existing broadcast television value net.

As a mature global industry, broadcast TV has experienced many cycles of sustaining innovations, where various technical and functional performance dimensions have improved over the decades, for example, the shift from: black and white to colour, a single public broadcaster to multiple commercial entities, analogue to digital, etc. All of which, have sustained traditional incumbents while incrementally improving customer satisfaction. However, broadcast TV is unlikely to have faced such a prominent and potentially disruptive innovation to market incumbents as peer-to-peer (P2P), which represents a diametrically opposing distribution method. If broadcast denotes one-to-many distribution, P2P denotes any-to-any, where anyone with a broadband connection can up/download files (including video assets), irrespective of whether you’re a global firm or individual consumer.

P2P may not be the first method to pull/make available video assets as data, as that is also achievable by HTTP downloads, streaming and video on demand (VoD); but it does mark a shift in the architecture and availability of broadcast video assets, and reduces distribution entry barriers. With P2P networks, video ‘creators/producers’ (that create and fund content) and ‘packagers’ (that commission and aggregate it) can reach end users directly (with the former disintermediating the entire value web, the later disintermediating ‘distributors’). But, instead of P2P being framed as an alternative to broadcast TV, it’s really an augmentation, an additional route to market, albeit one with the potential to disrupt an already fragmenting TV viewing constituency, and enable both firms and amateurs to become asset creators/producers/distributors. And as the Internet is a – conceptual – world of ends, any broadband user can leverage a P2P client/network to distribute video assets.

More information at this site.

Moral Rights to Edit Overzealous Editors

At the moment I'm in the final draft of an article and I've got some good, positive interaction with my editor about it. However, there are some writers, especially journalists, that are confronted with overzealous editing practices that leave their works butchered to be printed. Apparently the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is taking it up with an editor for hacking articles to bits, chewing them up and spitting them out in mutilated disarray. The alliance sees a way to bend copyright and get back at the over-editing: "reporters hold a moral copyright in their work, and detrimental changes could lead to legal actions involving financial compensation and a public apology." The author of this article points out the caveats in this approach. But then, maybe it was his editor who did so.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Warner Counters Chinese Piracy with Discount Prices

Warner Bros. will offer more than 125 of its movies against discount prices in China to undermine the market for illegal copies. The company thinks that by providing bonus material and better quality people will buy their official releases, instead of the still cheaper pirated versions. This sounds like a test-case that should be implemented world wide: reduced prices, more extras. Though, how does Warner expect to counter the demand for movies that are still/not even in the (US) cinema and already on offering in some back alley in Beijing? For al lot of people nothing beats the kick of having the first eye on a yet to-be-released film.

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Wall Street Journal story (registration) thru Heise (German)

Papers: Pennsylvania Porn & Digital Fair Use

Two papers via SSRN, one on the infamous Pennsylvania child porn act (case) in which, as the paper states, "the Pennsylvania legislature created a legal train wreck of epic proportions." The other on how technological developments have changed the impact of copyright on the the way people are able to express themselves. Here are the abstracts, and of the second paper also a recommendation.

1) Pennsylvania and Pornography by John B. Spence

Here's the abstract:
Pennsylvania recently attempted to hold ISPs criminally liable for their customer's ability to access child pornography. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office would create a list of websites that they believed to contain child pornography. They would then notify a handful of ISPs and demand that they block their users from being able to view the websites. If the ISPs failed to administer some form of block, they would be held liable under a criminal statute and subject to fines as well as jail time. The Pennsylvania statute suffers from a number of serious defects arising from technological limitations as well as Constitutional flaws. The District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania struck the law down as being unconstitutional under a number of possible theories, including: an unlawful restraint of the First Amendment and a violation of Federal powers under the Dormant Commerce Clause.
2) Distributive Values in Copyright by Molly Shaffer Van Houweling

Here's the abstract:
In this paper I explore the way that technological developments have changed copyright's impact on the distribution of expressive opportunities. Traditionally, copyright has benefited even poorly-financed amateur speakers by creating a market mechanism by which their work can be financed; in this way copyright has been consistent with strands of First Amendment jurisprudence and communications policy that champion broad distribution of expressive opportunities. But when technology makes it possible for this class of speakers to communicate without copyright-driven financing, the burdens that copyright imposes on their creativity may outweigh the benefits. Unfortunately, while the distributive impacts of copyright are complicated by these technological changes, copyright law and scholarship have developed a focus on market failure that marginalizes distributive concerns. I propose, among other things, a modification of the fair use doctrine that I think will restore some of copyright's egalitarian cast.
And a recommendation:
The fair use doctrine should be adjusted to ensure that creators who are not subsidized by copyright are also not burdened—thus restoring copyright’s former distributive logic. Specifically, fair use analysis should consider whether a defendant who is creatively reusing a copyrighted work is exploiting the monetary benefits that copyright offers. Where she is not (because, for example, she allows anyone to copy her work for free) the burden that copyright would impose on her probably outweighs the benefit, thus endangering her ability to engage in interative creativity. Such a defendant should enjoy a presumption of fair use. This presumption would be stronger and broader than the fair use doctrine’s current preference for non-commercial uses.

2009: Digital Content Protection Market $2 billion

If market analysis would determine the success of digital content protection, the broadcast flag, DVD protections and what have you will flourish over the coming years. According to a report by the market research firm Digital Tech Counseling (DTC) the market for digital consumer media protection will likely generate a swapping 2 billion dollars in 2009, compared to an estimated 928 million dollar this year. And where will these revenues come from? Amongst others a familiar suspect, on trial since yesterday, the broadcast flag:
HDTV and DVR are sweeping digital pay systems internationally, fueling new hardware sales and creating new revenue streams for hardware vendors and system operators. Additionally, newly implemented standards for secure digital broadcast and recording, like the broadcast flag, DTCP and HDCP, are clearing the way for a wave of new growth in digital terrestrial broadcast and digital recording devices.
So, if this market research is correct, the broadcast flag will come into play, protect the revenue streams from incumbent business models and bring a booming industry, feasting on the prevention of users to make (fair) copies. Dystopia for the masses, utopia for the few?
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Related news article
DTC website with Table of contents of their $2995 report
[Update: took out figure error.]

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Broadcast Flag: EFF Build Around

While the broadcast flag was challenged in court today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation came up with a technological challengence: the HD PVR Cookbook, a step-by-step guide that teaches people how to build a high-definition digital television (HDTV) recorder unaffected by the technological constraints of the Broadcast Flag. This does not look like something an average user could pull off, but good to see this effort. And a nice example of how both codes, law & tech, may (de-)regulate.

Broadcast Flag: European Musings

I just finished writing an article on the broadcast flag, to be published in the next INDICARE Monitor. The broadcast flag is a technological protection measure to prevent the unauthorized redistribution of digital over-the-air television content, specifically via p2p networks. It is based on an proposal by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and mandated by the US Federal Telecommunications Commission (FCC). This mandate makes it obligatory for all new devices that are capable of receiving digital television signals and are sold and distributed in the US to meet the conditions of the broadcast flag regime, starting July 1st. This includes the general purpose computer.

The broadcast flag itself has been criticized for:

1) its security regime: based on the wrong threat model, see Felten 2003; analog hole: (re)distribution and redigitalization may still take place through analog (video) jacks
2) its negative influence on users' interests: fair uses are prevented, users are locked-in to their digital home networks
3) its negative effect on innovation: new technologies have to be in accordance with the broadcast flag regime and become dependent on the authorization of a (federal) gatekeeper. e.g. Free and Open Source software/hardware, which' licenses give a freedom to tinker, may come into friction with the conditions of the broadcast flag.

The authority of the FCC to mandate the broadcast flag, and not leave it to the US Congress to set a rule, has been challenged in court today. The first reports are coming in: 1, 2. Some reporting about the flag in recent days: Freedom To Tinker, Darknet (NY Times article analysis), Ars Technica, Susan Crawford (for a more thorough background, with a twist, read her Biology of the Broadcast Flag essay).

While the broadcast flag is a US endeavor, and there has been little coverage in Europe, it should be watched with care from out here. Though no broadcast flag is coming up at a European level, yet, there have been indications that the "rights" of broadcasters are strengthened at the cost of (the fair uses) of users. This might be done by a supra-national organization like the WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization. The so-called WIPO Broadcast Treaty has sought to strengthen the control of broadcasters over their digital broadcasts by assuring that (future) signatories would protect against technological circumvention. This treaty has been on the table fro some time now.

Interesting to see is that the Motion Picture Association (MPA) is trying to lobby the European Union into stronger, mandated protection of digital works. Slightly coming short from proposing a European broadcast flag it recommended the implementation of a tight security regime in its comments to the Final Report of the High Level Working Group on Digital Rights Management (see this earlier post).

It has to be seen if the broadcast flag will be "copied" into a European regulatory framework. However, one may wonder if European consumer device and information technology manufacturers will not start to incorporate broadcast flag-approved protections in their products as a sort of default in order not to miss out on the US market. Though, the world is bigger than the US, and there's more (potential) market share to cater to elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if the broadcast flag regime, if it isn't struck down by the mentioned court case, will have a negative effect on American innovation, while non-American, non-US focused manufacturers are not covered by the regime and more free to build the products they and users want.
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Later: Susan Crawford gives her view on the first reports on the hearing: good & bad news. She says clearly what I've been leaning to [italics added]:
If only some consumer electronics manufacturers would see their longterm interests more clearly -- it has to be more important to be able to innovate in ways consumers will like than to build to a required standard that no consumer wants. There is no market demand for the broadcast flag.
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These are just some preliminary thoughts, more to follow as the broadcast flag case proceeds.
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For an analysis of the broadcast flag in Dutch, see this article [PDF], co-written with Ot van Daalen.

: More broadcast flag roundup at EEJD blog

: Mark Cuban gives some advice to the FCC: Call the entertainment industry's bluff. For years the entertainment industry has threatened not to provide digital content without a protection scheme like the broadcast flag in place. CBS did this, but didn't live up to it. Cuban writes it's time to call the bluff on others, and let users have the programs they want: unencombered by special protection measures.

Movie Spoilers & Copyright Law

In light of this post: ---spoiler alert---

Clint Eastwood's new film, Million Dollar Baby, has led to some controversy in the United States. That is, right-wingers have trashed it for its subject matter: assisted suicide, which they label as (left-wing Hollywood) propaganda for euthanasia. In Holland euthanasia has been regulated to some extent, though is still the subject of much controversy (not the least raised in foreign countries with foreign mind-sets, if one can have such on this issue). I won't bother you with it, as it is not the subject of this interesting article Julie Hilden at Findlaw: The Controversy Over Politically-Motivated "Million Dollar Baby" Spoilers: Do They Violate Copyright Law By Destroying Market Demand For the Movie?

The title covers the article pretty much. Let me add a little spoiler, one which Hilden would find legitimate, by saying that she does not think the spoilers to be copyright violations, but that she does think that they can be labeled as anti-First Amendment. Unfortunately this thought is constructed in the last paragraph and too little developed to be totally convincing. Still, an interesting read.

US Directors Beware: Nigerian Scam Upon You

Another Nigerian scam in the making? Found in my log statistics:

Referring Link:
2005 email addresses of all the directors company in usa and th



[Referring Link edited for clarity, bold mine]

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dutch Supreme Court Pushes Geolocation

The Dutch Supreme Court has decided last Friday that a foreign online gambling site should restrict Dutch people from using their service. The Supreme Court noted that the gambling site may use geolocation software to ban Dutch users from accessing their site. Geolocation techniques offer geographic localization by connecting IP addresses to the nationality of a user. Every time a user connects to the Internet his ISP assigns him an IP address out of the block of addresses assigned to the ISP itself. Names and addresses of these ISPs and the blocks that are assigned to them, are stored in a database which is in the public domain. With this information a source can differentiate in content depending on the location of the user. It facilitates the adjustment of language per region and more personal advertising. It also supports the enforcement of local law on foreign site through code.

The decision of the Dutch Supreme Court is reminiscent of the Yahoo! case, in which geolocation techniques were proposed to filter out French users. Small problem with these techniques is that Dutch users may use anonymizers, foreign users may log in through a Dutch ISP, and nothing prevents a future reallocation of IP addresses. More interesting though, is that this decision by the Dutch Supreme Court entails a view about the internet that may become more dominant with time: a geolacated collection of national networks, rather than the open international network it is at the moment. Though on that last note, Saudi Arabia, China and other countries, already make use of IP address based filtering to reduce the internet to a national intranet.

Some argue that geolocation will be necessary, and not to weaken freedom of speech, but to protect it: under French freedom of speech law the eradication of hate speech (as was the subject in the Yahoo! case) is allowed and seen as necessary to protect a democratic society. This same protection could be needed in other cases, so is argued. This may be detrimental to US free speech values, and not my personal line of thought, it increasingly finds its way into the mainstream. The Dutch Supreme Court at least did not think much of it that the rest of the world should adjust to our local law.
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The Dutch Supreme Court decision can be found at SOLV (Doc.)

Microsoft Adjusts AntiSpyware Under Legal Threats

Tomorrow Microsoft would have had to defend itself in court against allegations over its AntiSpyware program. However, there will not be a lawsuit since Microsoft has decided to adjust its AntiSpyware program and display a message on its Dutch and Belgian sites for four weeks, noting that it has made a mistake by classifying as a browser hijacker. Apparently Microsoft has also made its appologies to, the biggest Dutch competitor of MSN.
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Thru webwereld (Dutch)

U2-Negativland iPod on Auction, Again

In December a Special EdItion U2 iPod was filled with eight albums of Negativland and put up for auction at eBay. The parody was obvious, Negativland being sued in 1991 over a collage parody of U2's song I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and related album art (see picture above, here's a MP3 of the Negativland song). Apple didn't find the parody very funny, told eBay the auction violated its intellectual property rights, after which the auction was taken down.

Now the person that put the U2-Negativland iPod up for auction at eBay has decided to offer it at his own site:
I believe now, as I did then, that my parody is a legitimate exercise of my free speech rights, and that any claims Apple might make as to infringement are entirely baseless.
The auction starts today and will last until March 15.

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Thanks Maarten

Later (28/2): Last week's news today in Wired

HST Takes Final Trip

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Code & Privacy

The first paper of the 'Code as Code' research project I'm working on is up for download at SSRN: 'Code' and Privacy - Or How Technology Is Slowly Eroding Privacy by Robert Leenes and Bert-Jaap Koops. My paper, 'Code and Speech', is to follow soon, but be sure to download this one now!

Here's the abstract:
Reidenberg and Lessig have called attention to software 'code' increasingly being used to supplement, or even replace, traditional legal code as a mechanism to control behaviour. This idea of 'code as law' is often illustrated with examples in intellectual property and freedom of speech; the relationship with 'code' and privacy has so far received less attention.

In this paper, Leenes and Koops explore the impact of technology on privacy to see to what extent privacy-related 'code' is used, either to undermine or to enhance privacy. In other words, are privacy-affecting norms being embedded in technology? On the basis of eight case studies in the domains of law enforcement, national security, E-government, and commerce, they conclude that technology, in particular software and the Internet architecture, rarely incorporates specific privacy-related norms. The few existing exceptions concern building-in an option of privacy violation, such as interceptability of telecommunications. At the same time, however, technology very often does have clear effects on privacy as it affects the 'reasonable expectation of privacy'. In real-life applications, this influence is usually to the detriment of privacy: It makes privacy violations easier. Particularly information technology turns out to be a technology of control, much more than a technology of freedom. Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) have been devised and propagated, but they have yet to be implemented on any serious scale. The eroding effect of technology on privacy is a slow, hardly perceptible process. Because of the flexible, fluid nature of what is deemed privacy, society gradually adapts to new technologies and the privacy expectations that go with it. If one is to stop this almost natural process, a concerted effort is called for, possibly in the form of 'privacy impact assessments', enhanced control mechanisms, and awareness-raising.

No Bootlegs for US Military

Under Japanese copyright law it is apparently legal to import single copies of bootleg items for personal use. You may bring one pirate copy of the latest Snoop Dogg into the country, but not a second: "If a tourist bought a copied CD or DVD...overseas, solely for his personal use, the current copyright laws do not ban him from bringing it into Japan," said Osamu Fukuyama, an Okinawa customs spokesman.

Though Japanese copyright law allows single, personal use bootleg import, US service man are forbidden to do so. Under the status of forces agreement the stricter, US copyright law is enforced on them, destroying the bootleg copies when they come back from 12 high-risk countries, including China and most of South Asia. Something to remember when enlisting.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

German Film Board Fears Loss of MPAA Lawsuit Tactics

The board of directors of the German Federal Film Board, the national film promoter and levy raiser, has pressed the government not to include the so-called "Bagatellklausel" (trifle clause) in th upcoming reformed copyright law. This trifle clause exempts the exchange of a small number of songs that are exclusively for private use from prosecution. What the exact number is before an exchange gets punishable is to be determined by the courts, announced the Secretary of Justice. She only noted that a one-digit number of songs should be excluded from prosecution, two-digit numbers were questionable, and downloaders going into the three-digit numbers were surely liable to prosecution.

This is an interesting clause, possibly standing in the way to massive individual lawsuits like the one's being filed by the movie (and music) industry in the US. The Federal Film Board indirectly acknowledges this in a press release (German) condemning the trifle clause:
"[It] prevents an effective fight against pirates, by opening the air-locks for the justification of the mass phenomenon of "digital theft". The signal effect, which comes to criminal law standards usually, is lost in this case." [italics added]
The signal effect, that is taking individuals as an example to scare the mass away from file-sharing. The German Film Board fears that it will not be able to use the same tactics as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and its musical counterpart the RIAA. The German government has not yet reacted to the Film Board's demand. So, for the moment, no little Hans and Gretchens being sentenced over swapping songs online.
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Related earlier post analyzing the draft for German copyright reform
Thru urheberrecht (German)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Beatallica Cease & Desisted

Beatallica, the band that performs a hybrid of Beatles and Meatallica songs, has received a cease and desist notice [PDF] by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the copyrightholder of The Beatles' compositions. The notice claims that Beatallica's uses of the Beatles songs "without the express authorization or license has caused and continues to cause substantial and irreparable injury and is in direct violation of Sony/ATV's rights." Interestingly enough, the cease and desist letter is aimed at the ISP of Beatallica's website, demanding to remove certain sections as well as all links to music and lyric files.

This is yet another example of how fan's jubilation and creativity, expressed in remixed music, is come down on by the music industry. It is reminiscent of the action taken against DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, a remix of Jay-Z's Black Album and The Beatles' White Album. EMI, claiming copyright of the White Album, also sent a cease and desist, only heightening the popularity of the album to the number one position. The Grey Album is still available here.

It makes you wonder when music corporations start to learn that these actions only have a detrimental effect, while remixes like from Beatallica increase, rather than doing injury, increase the fan base (and buying power) of the original fan base. Here's one fan who doesn't seem to mind that his music is injured: Metallica frontman James "let's sue Napster to dead" Hetfield:
"Yeah. I heard that. That was amazing. Someone put a lot of thought and talent into that man!" Asked if he was being sarcastic, he said, "No, not at all. I heard it online. It was about a year ago, or more. It was pretty amazing. It was pretty well thought out so I'm glad there's people like that in the world to do that and it's very entertaining for us, for sure!"
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Thru Blabbermouth

: boingboing reports that Metallica's Lars Ulrich weighs in:

Lars Ulrich contacted the band earlier today to offer his support. He will be contacting his people in the biz to get in touch with Sony, and he'll let us know if anything transpires.
Update (24 feb): boingboing reports that Beatallica's ISP has shut down the site

Microsoft Hit with AntiSpyware Lawsuit

Update: No lawsuit, Microsoft caters to the demands

A few days back I found an IP address from the Microsoft corporation in Redwood USA in the logs of my statistics counter. This user of Microsoft had done a Google search on "microsoft startpagina lawsuit", which brought him to this post: Microsoft's AntiSpyware Filters Competitor. It's on the practice of Microsoft's AntiSpyware to label Holland's most popular site, owned by search engine Ilse and a competitor for Microsoft's MSN page, as a browser hijacker and make it almost impossible for people to use it as their start page.

I didn't think much from it, except a little fantasy that the big man himself hat hit my blog. Now I might say that the people in Redmond were taking the threat from the director of to sue Microsoft seriously. Because Ilse has now actually filed a lawsuit over Microsoft practices, demanding that:
-Microsoft changes its AntiSpyware software so that user may use as their start page again

-Microsoft should provide an update of AntiSpyware for the current users that, when the installation program is opened, contains the message that Microsoft has disseminated wrongful information about

-Microsoft puts a rectification on its website and that on all pages that refer to Microsoft's AntiSpyware will contain a skyscraper with an apology text for a month
Ilse also demands 250 000 Euros for every day Microsoft does not comply with these demands, with a maximum of 20 million Euros.

This will be an interesting case on the anti-competitive use of corporate (filtering) software. And now wait if more Redmond IP addresses hit this blog (through Google, not MSN search, apparently).

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Thru webwereld (Dutch)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Red & Blue of Blogs

The above is an Eyetools Heatmap of people reading a blog. You guessed it: red = readership, blue=(much) less concentrated readership. The blog has a bit of a problem, since readers loose their interest half-way the story, as indicated. This analysis may improve the (visual) interaction with readers of blogs, and increase the (intensity of their) readership by tweaking the lay-out. Wonder where the red and blue show up a this blog. Better stop wrting beforethis space turns blue.
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At Eyetools Research Blog

Eben Moglen Weblog: Freedom Now

Columbia Professor and Free Software propagandist Eben Moglen has a weblog: Freedom Now. When did this happen? How could I've missed it? I had not been on his Columbia site for while, though it's linked here in the right column. After reading this article/interview with Moglen on the new Software Freedom Law Center he helped create, ending with the punch line "We've got the golden egg," Moglen says. "Now, we're looking for the goslings.", I made a visit to his site. And there it was, a new link to a fresh weblog, with seemingly old content. The past postings are almost all made up of his Linux User columns, though the latest entry may promise that he will provide some "orginal" content. I'll keep on track for the rants on setting free local Starbucks by distributing WiFi cards.
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Freedom Now are the last words of Moglen's brilliant -as in performance- speech at Wizards of OS3, Berlin, June 10, 2004: Die Gedanken Sind Frei: The Free Software Movement and The Struggle for Freedom of Thought (MP3). Linked to it before, listen to it now.

DJ Pirate Fined 1,4 Million Euros!

This French Yahoo! News report is very low on details, but it brings a bewildering story: an Italian DJ has been condemned to pay a record fine of 1,4 million Euros for using pirated material in a night club close to Rome. The police of the Italian city of Rieti explained that it has searched a night club this week and seized 500 illegal music videos and more than 2000 MP3 files. The police also said that the DJ was "well-known". The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry commented that such a fine had never been imposed on a private individual.
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Thru musique libre
Later: The news spins fast: Techdirt has a comment and a link to a Reuters story that does not bring any more details.

Australian Seed Piracy

You thought the piracy in the music business was rampant? Read this article on piracy in the Australian seed market and think again. According to a CEO of the Australian Seed Federation:
"It is no different to the situation the music industry found itself in 12 months ago, when it took a stand to try and stamp out piracy and the illegal activities regarding copyright material."
Australian farmers are paying levies and royalties on everything ranging from cereal seed, pasture seed, forage, horticulture to vegetable seed and flower seed. Not everyone is happy with this, in a land where there traditionally was a public plant breeding culture:
"There was a culture that seed could be grown and handed over the fence to the next-door neighbour. Times have changed. Even public breeders are, in most cases, part of a breeding company, maybe funded by the states. But they are in the business of now charging royalties to keep the programs going."
A literal privatization of public culture, pushing up the fences and enclosing the seeds, with a common reaction: piracy.
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Related US IP Order Tragets Iraqi Seed Savers

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Gershwin & Copyright

I'm not sure If I will ever get to fully read this massive paper (80+ pages), but it takes an interesting, fresh look at the scope of copyright by using the late composer Gershwin and the exploitation of his copyrights by his heirs as an illustrative example. Wildely illustrative, I should say, analyzing the musical origins of Porgy and Bess in great depth. For those who want to listen to around 200 different versions of Summertime, here is a link to a truly amazing (Russian) collection. Play them while you read the paper: Copyright on Catfish Row: Control and Compensation in Porgy and Bess by Olufunmilayo Arewa (SSRN)

Here's the abstract:
Current debates about the duration and scope of copyright protection such as those associated with passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act and recent Eldred v. Ashcroft decision, tend to be based on a general assessment of the implications and role of copyright rules as well as the cumulative impact of copyright on the public domain. Although underlying rules and their general impact are important, also important are the uses of copyright in particular instances as may be reflected in the behavior of individual copyright holders and the ways in which such holders actually exploit their copyrights. Looking at the operation and uses of copyright in the specific instance of George Gershwin's musical practice reflects uses of copyright in the musical arena and demonstrates the extent to which current copyright rules may not adequately contemplate actual practices of music copyright holders. George Gershwin worked extensively with technical collaborators throughout his career and immersed himself in African American musical traditions. Gershwin was also quite attuned to the importance of copyright. Following his premature death in 1937 at age 38, however, the Gershwin family came to control his copyrights, highlighting the role that heirs now play in the actual use of copyright given the fact that copyright duration now extends to 70 years beyond the life of individual creators. Copyright structures to this point have been based on combining of rights of control and compensation within copyright frameworks. Through various mechanisms, heirs in particular tend to exert control over uses of copyright in ways that have little to do with the creation of musical works that is the major rationale for copyright. In fact, the exercise of control over copyright in such instances may actually hinder the creation of later works. Uses of copyright by creators such as Gershwin and his heirs suggest that it would be prudent in some instances to separate the control and compensation aspects of copyright. The division of control from compensation will not only help keep the public domain strong, but may limit the opportunities for strategic and other behaviors that are becoming increasingly characteristic of the operation of copyright and intellectual property rights more generally.

iPeer: Cashing In On Public P2P

If the infrastructure is there, why not exploit it:
"INTENT Mediaworks announced today that it has released the first peer-to-peer (P2P) software that blocks and filters unauthorized, copy-written works and sexually explicit material from being traded over P2P networks. The software, called iPeer, is a P2P file trading software application that operates on the public P2P Networks such as gnutella and is able to allow only legally authorized content to be traded between P2P users." (press release)
The iPeer software can be downloaded here, but I haven't been able to test it (restricted to Windows). From a testimony to a U.S. Senate Hearing by INTENT (available here, PDF), which provides some graphs on the workings of their technology, this description is lifted:
1. Content rights holders sign a non-exclusive distribution agreement with INTENT MediaWorks, LLC, (a copy of our agreement is attached).
2. The content owner or rights holders submit their works to INTENT MediaWorks on digital media.
3. INTENT MediaWorks converts the content into a digital format and consequently attaches digital rights management, (DRM), copy protection software to the media to prevent the copying and sharing without authorization.
4. INTENT MediaWorks reviews the content to make certain it is not illicit, unauthorized, sexually explicit or unacceptable for distribution. The content rights holder then examines the media for final inspection before distribution.
5. The content is then provisioned to be hosted on INTENT MediaWorks computer servers which seed content into the P2P software programs directly and/or provisioned through P2P service providers such as Altnet and Trustyfiles.
6. The content is ready for searching and downloading through any P2P search and file exchange management software.
If I'd put it cynically I'd say that the INTENT technology is flooding p2p networks with DRM spoofs. Users that download INTENT content are confronted with a DRM, where they expect to get free content. Not with INTENT: the user may either 1) have to listen/watch advertisements accompanying the content, 2) register at the copyrightsholders site, after which "the content rights holder will send future marketing messages via electronic mail" or 3) pay for a license to the rightsholder of the content and receive ad-free content. (Senate Testimony, p. 6).

This is a cleaver scheme, using existing p2p networks to push ad-tied-subscription content. I wonder if either users, or p2p network operators will buy into it (not to speak of DRM vulnerabilities). How long will it take to flag the DRMed INTENT content as spoofs by the networks? Will users even consider to subscribe to a (single) rightsholder for ad infected content, when they can get alternatives for free? And what to think of point number four: the screening by INTENT on illicity, sexual explicity and unacceptability, terms transcending in vagueness? So, no Eminem through INTENT, forget about the latest Pirelli calendar, and content on building an atomic bomb, overthrowing the U.S. government, or, for that matter, highly critical of INTENT. Why not? The Peer in iPeer is not about equal standing, but about free riding the protocols for profit. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Google Digitization & Disclosure

At the end of last year Google announced that it would digitize (part of) the collections of some major research libraries. Lawrence Lessig gave his take on the announcement, plugging his scheme for copyright renewal along the way. A side-effect of Google's (legal) inability to make only books published before 1923 fully available due to the present copyright term that Lessig didn't point out is expressed in this article as follows:
The typical user who finds a pre-1923 source available for free via Google is unlikely to sashay down to the local library for something more recent. That's just life. Google hype to the contrary, blind, wholesale digitization is no more a good thing than buying books based on color. Large research libraries that never weed their collections as a matter of policy end up with lots of outdated, useless material. Join this with blind, wholesale digitization, and it's clear we will soon find ourselves in a world where incorrect, dated information trumps current, accurate information through circumstance.
I did not realize that I currently find myself in a world of accurate information, or at least one in which I may shift the wrongs from the rights. The disclosure movement of Google and the likes, the making available of unparalleled information (sources), does indeed bring dilemmas of the accuracy of the provided information. Adding dated information through digitization might indeed increase the pile of inaccuracy through which we are currently finding a path. On first thought I'd be more worried by search engines making a decision on what's accurate and clearing the path, than letting users decide this for themselves. Not that (internet) intermediaries haven't determined our information consumption in the past, or will stop doing so. But the potential for greater user control is there, even if this needs a lot of critical thinking and (online) correction.

In the meantime Google does not seem to have a real clue on how it will digitize the library collections. At least it has not yet (publicly) give a clear outline of its plan. Google "is being 'coy' about standards and specs; minimums have been given but little to no fixed specs." Maybe Google should digitize books in colour: red: incorrect info - green: correct info. It would save me a trip to the next best search engine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Filtering Anecdote

A telling anecdote encountered by an Australian IT magazine when they asked for official commentary on the idea of mandatory ISP-based filtering:
Communications Minister Helen Coonan's press secretary promptly responded to our query with a helpful email on the Government's role in the war against net nasties.

Only one hitch, as it turns out: "I just emailed you some comments, and it has been picked up by our filter because it mentions the word porn," an apologetic press secretary said in a phone message.

DRM: Big in Japan

Andreas Bovens, of the Chosaq blog, has published an interesting paper on DRM schemes in Japan, now available online: Closed Architectures for Content Distribution. From dojinshi and the Aibo pet to the flashy mobile music market and a Japanese version of the broadcast flag.

Here's part of the abstract:

In my paper I take a closer look at the implementation of DRM schemes [in Japan] and analyze what effect they have on the use and re-use of the content they aim to protect. I argue that the scope of this protection is much wider than it should be; in essence, every use that is not specifically permitted by the content provider is in fact prohibited. Moreover, adding DRM to the materials they distribute places the content providers in a very powerful position: They enable themselves to control the architecture and development of the downstream devices that process their digital content. Control of such an extent has or will have a stifling effect on innovation in Japan both on the content production level as well as on the content carrier/editor development level -- a very unpromising outlook indeed. In this respect, I question whether the Japanese content industry's current DRM tactics are the way to go -- possibly rethinking and adjusting business models may ultimately prove to be a more viable solution.

Skinned, Mixed, Burned

The video to the very catchy tune Lotion of Greenskeepers may be somewhat presented as an example of the "Rip, Mix, Burn" culture, to me it seems like a clear violation of the copyrights to The Silence of the Lambs movie.

The song turns around one of the lines of Buffalo Bill, the serial killer in the movie, who speaks to his victim: "It puts the lotion on its skin, Or else it gets the hose again". The lotion is to loosen the skin, so that Bill, well, can skin his victim more easily. This line is sung and remixed with images of Buffalo Bill in the Greenskeepers clip, which is an online cult hit for some time now and has been downloaded massively.

It is not that Greenskeepers uses this line, but that the video is exclusively made up of footage from the movie. Like Buffalo Bill the group has skinned the movie to wear it as its own. This may be an appropriate tribute, it will hardly please the copyrightholders, even if it has strengthened the popularity of the movie itself.
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Thru Detritus

How To Own Napster Songs

The new subscription service Napster To Go is so cheap that you must be crazy to use iTunes instead. On its site Napster "Does the Math" for you, but leaves out some essential figures. Not that you're locked-in to a Windows platform to play your songs, but that you essentially rent the songs from Napster. You don't own them like you do with iTunes, though that kind of DRMed "ownership" may be questioned in itself. You subscribe to Napster, and when you decide to get out of their service, your songs are lost. Not so cheap in the long run.

Now, as could be expected, some people have discovered the hole in the Napster model, or better the Windows DRM. With three computer, some blanck CDs, a plugin and time on your hands you may actually own the Napster songs, and lots of it. Here's the math:
14 day trial = 336 hours = 20,160 minutes of potential music = 252 80 minute CDs

Computer 1: Dedicated to downloading new music off of Napster
Computer 2: Dedicated to building WAV files for each CD
Computer 3: Dedicated to burning CDs

This is likely to violate Napster's terms of use. It has to be seen how soon Napster/Windows will fill this hole, which is now widely know due to the fast dissemination of this info on the internet. That's another DRM vulnerability: if the info gets out there it will be heard and it will be practiced.
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Thru Darknet

Monday, February 14, 2005

Spamming Pirates Into Legality

In 2005 it's "no more mr. nice guy" for BREIN, the Dutch anti-piracy organisation of the content industry. In its latests news release it bolsters that under its pressure 14 portal sites that provided links to tracks on Edonkey and Fasttrack networks have been closed down. Two are still operating, but will likely be sued by BREIN. But that's just the intermediaries. While there haven't been any lawsuits in The Netherlands against users of file-sharing networks, BREIN is letting it known that this will change soon. Legal action is not even a matter of months, and the organisation is collecting evidence at the moment.

BREIN is giving file-sharers one last chance before it takes off the gloves. It has send 300 000 instant messages via the p2p networks, of which 100 000 were actually received. The message starts as follows:
Attention! You are infringing on copyrights and neighbouring rights. Stop your illegal offering of music and other content to prevent liability for damages.

BREIN has observed that you offer illegal music and possibly also other content, such as movies and games, via the p2p service you use. [...] You are responsible for the damages resulting from your infringement.

BREIN orders you to stop your illegal offering of copyright protected content immediately and keep it stopped.
This is nice indeed from BREIN, a last warning before making American style exemplary legal executions. BREIN's director Tim Kuik denies that the wave of messages is spam: "They got neither a commercial nor ideologically character." (source, Dutch) I would say that these message are both commercially induced, and ideological per se, presenting a copyright ideology that's not shared by the greater part of file-sharers. In the coming months the spam wave will be followed by the wave of lawsuits. Let's see if either one drives file-shares away from the high seas of piracy.

The Bone Protector

This web security device for children must get some porn craving kids to drink gallons of milk: age determination on the basis of a bone analysis.
Users simply place a middle finger against a device that attaches to a computer. The device uses ultrasound waves to check more than a dozen biometric attributes, including how much calcium is present (children have less than adults).
Small problem with the device is that it only determines the probability that a user is a child or an adult. Too bad if you are 18/21 and got the bone structure of a 16 year old, and vice versa. Too bad if you got no middle finger, for that matter.
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Related news report

Australian Fair Use To Be?

While Norway has taken questionable steps (from a user's perspective) in the copyright frontier, Australia is considering the introduction of a fair use equivalent. Australian copyright law is up for review and Attorney-General Ruddock seems to have a reasonable view of what users should be allowed to do with the content they rightfully purchased:
"There's a reasonable argument for putting forward the opinion that when someone has bought something in one format and has acquired the copyright for it in that particular format then there is a fair use for them to take it to another format. I think it's a strong argument."
This is quite a different line from what the Norwegians are putting forward: you may copy for private use, even circumvent copy protections to do so, but only if source and destination of the content are the same digital medium. From CD to CD is okay, but ripping a CD to your MP3 would not be allowed. This is a puzzling rule, which may not even provide users with the possibility to enjoy private use in its restrictive realm of a digital medium lock-in. I'm not familiar with the exact copyright provisions, but (restricted) circumvention for private use will prove to be fairly useless if the import and trade in copyright circumvention tools is actually prohibited, as it seems to be(come) in Norway: you may circumvent, within the same digital medium, but you may not get your hands on the tools to do so. Of course, to the digirati this prohibition often proofs to be useless, but the average user may indeed be hindered in exercising a private use. This could have the opposite effect of the prevention of copyright infringement the Norwegian copyright reform aims at: users will navigate themselves to the proper formats via "illegal" p2p networks. Not so legal, but not so hard either.
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Related Australian news report (may be subscription based)