Friday, November 18, 2005

Fujitsu's DRMed Car Network

This new Fujitsu "in-vehicle information system network" is nicely locked-down, so you won't be able to upload The Dukes of Hazard when doing 100 miles per hour through a WiFi-infected dessert:

This product, for the first time in the industry, carries the physical and link layers conforming to the IEEE1394b-2002 (*3) standard and the copyright protection function conforming to the DTCP (*4) standard.

Enemies of the Internet Best Of

The World Summit in Tunesia is a great moment to market your opinion (and some facts): Reporters without Borders has published The 15 enemies of the Internet and other countries to watch. A webpage of background on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly sans the Good:
The 15 “enemies” are the countries that crack down hardest on the Internet, censoring independent news sites and opposition publications, monitoring the Web to stifle dissident voices, and harassing, intimidating and sometimes imprisoning Internet users and bloggers who deviate from the regime’s official line.

The “countries to watch” do not have much in common with the "enemies of the Internet." The plight of a Chinese Internet user, who risks prison by mentioning human rights in an online forum, does not compare with the situation of a user in France or the United States. Yet many countries that have so far respected online freedom seem these days to want to control the Internet more. Their often laudable aims include fighting terrorism, paedophilia and Internet-based crime, but the measures sometimes threaten freedom of expression.

I guess fighting copyright infringement is an Internet-based crime, or not considered laudable...
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Thru Quicklinks

Bollywood's Fashionable Copyright is a great site that has raised some fashionable discussion about copyright infringement on Bollywood costumes. The site allows you, the Bollywood-addict, to pick your favourite movie/actress/actor and order its/her/his costume from the movie for some $200. Imagine, getting that wacky Ewok-costume online, with no Indian-style Skywalker Empire juicing out its intellectual property rights to let you bleed for a, well...$200? Anyway, Bollywood's finest may not be your average Darth Vader, but the Hindutimes pops the question to and the Bollywood costume designers:

Is this not entering the grey area of copyright violation? Mehta says that the site has "not faced any problem so far”." He adds, "The problem arises only when the dress is marketed as a separate entity and the producers themselves market the clothing that the characters are seen in. If it'’s not patented, it'’s open to the market."

Film designer Vikram Phadnis begs to differ. "I don'’t think it's right to make money off our work," he says. Fellow designer Rocky S agrees, "It is totally wrong to cash in on our creative work." But he adds, "There'’s only so much we can do. It's not possible for a fashion designer to patent each and every piece that he makes."

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In the picture above: Satish Shah Churidar Kurta and his costume as seen in the movie "Kal Ho Na Ho"

Time-Shift that Private Copy

An interesting take on fair use comes from the company behind iFill, which allows you to receive internet radio, send it directly to your iPod, where it is stored in separate song files: "iFill's main use is as a timeshift device, and as such it encourages private use of music within the legal limits of personal copies".

I'm not so sure at all that this reasoning will hold. But expect the debate about internet radio as an alternative source for music to increase as the P2P saga winds down: how to (legally) define the selective recording of transmitted songs and the subsequent time-shifting for, probably, more than a little time.

Jot: Skype v. Verso Row Linklist

If you haven't followed the little Skype - Verso row (Verso being the filtering company that provides software, which it claims "blocks bandwidth drains such as Skype, P2P messaging, streaming media and instant messaging), here's a short linklist:

Firm hits out at "critical" Skype problems
Skype in talks with Chinese authorities
Verso Responds to Statements by Skype

Filtering In Tunesia 2005

While it's starting to become somewhat of a cliche to point out that Tunesia's anti-democratic and anti-speech tendencies make it far from the right place to hold the World Summit on the Information Society (Q's: Which country would be right, anyway? Isn't Tunesia representative for the Information Society to be?), the Open Net Initiative has released its report Internet Filtering in Tunesia 2005. Nice timing, here's a small abstract:
A country study documents Tunisia's attempts to control Internet information, including the filtering of Web sites, blogs, and anonymizer services. Drawing on open sources and a detailed year-long technical investigation, ONI research describes Tunisia's aggressive targeting and blocking of on-line content, including political opposition Web sites, human rights groups, and sites that provide access to privacy-enhancing technologies.

PC Is Finally Spelled TV

Those were the days, when you had to tinker with your PC for hours until you could finally watch that favourite TV show in ASCII fashion on your matrix-style monitor. Those were the days soon gone by. Thanks to the great drive for convergence to the ultimate home hub your PC will soon be spelled TV:

Microsoft and CableLabs, the U.S. cable industry’s nonprofit R&D unit, are working to document final approval of Windows Media Digital Rights Management as a content protection technology in order to protect cable operators from copyright violation and content theft.

"This agreement carefully balances the need to preserve the flexibility of the personal computer for consumers with the need for cable operators to be confident that the hardware and software shipped with compliant Media Center PCs will function like a CableCARD-enabled digital television," said Glenn Britt, chairman of CableLabs and chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable
I think this is one of the most beautiful sentences I've read in a long time. The obscenity of its wording is strangely attractive: agreement - balance - need - preserve- flexibility - personal - computer - consumers - need - cable - operators - hardware - software - compliant - media - center - PCs - function - television. That's TV poetry! Be ready for the great televison era. Be ready for flexibility within your own home hub. We're entering the state of preservation: the freedom that is, has to be preserved and protected by a fence of DRM-wire.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Swiss IFPI: Game Over for P2P Infringers

The Swiss division of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says it's all over for P2P- users that download copyright protected works. At least, that's the final aim of their anti-piracy campaign Game Over. IFPI Swiss says (semi-)professional P2P-infringers are now under control, and that it does not exist anymore in Switzerland.

The focus of IFPI Swiss' legal actions will now move to private infringers (so-called Raubkopierer), concentrating on those who download the most for starters. The tactic is well-know: registrating IP-addresses, warning the user with instant messaging, offering a settlement, starting a civil lawsuit with fines between 3,000 and 10,000 Swiss Franks if no settlement is reached and in grave cases a criminal lawsuit.

IFPI Swiss says that until now it had "trusted on the principle of individual responsibility embodied in Switzerland" but that this did not lead to he expected respect for intellectual property. So, now the Swiss are putting some tradition back into the internet, the lack of which was deemed one of its values. The projection of incumbent legal and socio-economic structures continues. Until the game is over.
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IFPI Swiss press release [German] (the picture above shows how "Raubkopierer" will be tracked)
Thru Institut fur Medien- und Urheberrecht [German]

Zittrain on the Generative Internet

This is the first paper I'm going to read as soon as I get trainload of work done: Johnatan Zittrain's The Generative Internet, now up for download at SSRN. I found his previous papers very insightful and readable, with a great analysis that's not blurred by ideological fog as (much as) you'll find with some other (Harvard) über-cyberprofs.

Here's the abstract:
The power and flexibility of the Internet has ignited growth and innovation in information technology and in associated creative endeavors, its "generativity" soliciting contribution from varied audiences. This very power and flexibility projected across millions of mainstream users has also become a vehicle for security threats that endanger its many desired uses. This Article describes how the intertwining of the highly generative personal computer and Internet is creating an information technology "grid" that will find itself in grave crisis with no easy fix.

The most direct responses to the crisis, both by regulators and through market forces reflecting a shift in consumer attitudes about the importance of technology reliability, will enable the sort of locked-down Internet that publishers and some regulators have so far favored but been unable to bring about.

Those who treasure the Internet's generative features must assess the prospects for sufficiently either satisfying or frustrating the forces in question so that a radically different technology configuration need not come about. I believe that a different-in-kind Internet is likely quite difficult to avoid. It is precisely while the future is uncertain that those who care about openness and the positive disruption it generates should not sacrifice the good to the perfect by seeking simply to maintain a tenuous technological status quo in the face of inexorable change. Rather, we should establish the principles that will blunt the most unappealing features of a more locked-down technological future while acknowledging that an unprecedented and, to many who work in technology, genuinely unthinkable level of enclosure is likely to be the rule from which we must negotiate and justify exceptions.
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Thru Urs Gasser, who's calling it groundbreaking and a must-read.