According to Wired News, porn is more traded on P2P networks than music, with porn makers claiming their profits are down, just as the RIAA does and for the same reasons. As Greg Bildson -- COO of LimeWire, maker of Gnutella style software said delicately, "We're about all different kinds of content sharing." It is often mentioned that on the internet, the most profitable industry by far is porn, yet they don't seem to get too upset about copyright infringement.
Porn purveyors are trying a couple of tactics to combat stealing, including collaboration (where they give away a little to get paying customers) and embedding links into small clips, planting them on P2P networks, so that when downloaders play them, they are redirected to pay sites. "We love file trading," said Kevin Blatt, sales director for the Triple X Cash. "Why? It's called greed. We've found a way to monetize that sharing." The RIAA could take a cue from them, working with the customers, not against them.
"iTunes 4 is awesome!" My brother's ecstatic praise turned me on to Apple's launch of its new music service, The iTunes Music Store, along with the latest version of iTunes, the musical listening swiss army knife-like device available free to Mac users.
It looks like the iTunes Music Store is much better than most of the previous attempts to distribute music electronically that had the backing of the major labels. But there are still limitations built in: "In a nutshell, you can play your music on up to three computers, enjoy unlimited synching with your iPods, burn unlimited CDs of individual songs, and burn unchanged playlists up to 10 times each."
My curiosity is piqued, but I still have some reservations. The major labels see the computer as a threat, and are aggressively trying to destroy the surrounding industry, which, incidentally, happens to be one of the most successful in recent history. Do I really want to spend my money on a service that supports the majors?
Apple has created an iTunes store with 200,000 songs for downloading. Using the site includes 30 free previews and cd cover art which quotes Steve Jobs as saying, "AND it's not stealing -- it's good karma." So 5% of the market is covered, but what about the rest? I wonder if it will put a dent in Kazaa users sharing 1 billion files. But something viable for the PC needs to be offered, too, so this might be the Pepsi challenge for the RIAA....
Other IP thoughts: Matt Morse pointing out that Saturday was World Intellectual Property Day. They even have a cartoon explaining their ideas about IP (pdf) which he cannot quite believe. Among other things, they point out that animals cannot make intellectual property. Check it out.
Meanwhile Harry Shearer has been talking about overall music industry strategy: Sue Your Customers! (htm). He suggests instead that the industry target older customers for sales because they have more money than time, are less likely to pirate music and more likely to purchase....
Is this the betamax case for digital files? As previously mentioned here, a Federal Judge in LA ruled in favor of Streamcast and Grokster, stating they are not liable for the actions of thier users. Andy Lack, the new chief of Sony Music, had an interesting take: "I'm relieved on some level because the judge affirmed everything we've been saying, but for one point, which may distract people from the real meaning of the decision," he told the NYT. In other words, he feels the decision affirms the music industry's right to go after individuals...but they plan to appeal, of course. Early buzz is that this will hasten the shift to rational digital distribution models for media companies. Let's hope so.
File-swapping services Streamcast Networks , parent of Morpheus, and Grokster were handed an unexpected victory when Federal Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed much of the case brought against them by the music industry and movie studios.
In an unprecedented decision that reverses many of the previous victories for the record labels and Hollywood studios the court in Los Angeles found that the two companies cannot be held liable for the way the users of their softwares decide to employ the technology.
Wilson, in the opinion released Friday, wrote: "Grokster and StreamCast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights."
John Borland on News.com writes: "The judge's surprise ruling marked the first validation of an argument that file-swapping supporters have been making since Napster's first controversial arrival. Peer-to-peer file-trading is a technology that can be used for activities well beyond copyright infringement, and the technology should not be blocked altogether to stop solely its illegal uses, these backers have said."
But the recording industry and the movie studios are not happy with the decision. A disappointed MPAA spokeswoman said "We feel strongly that those who encourage, facilitate and profit from piracy should be held accountable for actions."
It is well clear that they will appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Will the case make it to the Supreme Court?
Pam Samuelson is interviewed in the (May) MIT Technology Review about the Berman bill (which he admitted in February may not be reintroduced in the 108th Congress), "self-help" and the planting of "chaff" or phony mp3s into free P2P networks, and copyright.
"... A real unfortunate thing, and the Berman Bill isn't going to solve this, is that by being so aggressive against the peer-to-peer file-sharing technologies and bringing so many lawsuits and trying to shut the stuff down, the industry hasn't won the hearts and minds of the individual users of these networks, and they haven't won the hearts and minds of the technology community that wants to use peer-to-peer technologies."
On Self-Help for Copyright Holders:
"My sense is that this bill would not just immunize this kind of interference with downloading; it also would immunize more aggressive acts, including those that would otherwise violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [CFAA] and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anticircumvention provisions. The CFAA has quite a lot of open-ended provisions. For example, if a rights holder accessed a user's computer and disabled use of files on that computer, that would violate CFAA. As the recording industry was contemplating how to fight back against peer-to-peer file sharing using technology, they correctly reasoned that they might, in fact, be subject to liability under the broad provisions of the CFAA or other federal or state laws that forbid, for example, trespassing on somebody else's computer system. "
"If the goal is compensation to artists, then it may be time, especially in view of how widespread file sharing is, to start thinking seriously about some sort of licensing scheme so that noncommercial file sharing, for example, could be made profitable for copyright owners. But it would be necessary to impose some sort of tax. This would get copyright holders some money and would stop the punitive war that has been going on, which is going to be really tough for the industry to win. "
"I don't think that there's one silver bullet that solves the whole problem. But it's important to find some solution that is the least socially disruptive -- one that also then gets a wide array of wonderful creative works into the hands of lots of different people. Because that's what ultimately the copyright system is supposed to achieve."
The LA Times covers the Mix Tape scene (name is a throwback to the cassette era) where rappers and DJ's are mixin, small stores are selling, and the RIAA is suing. "One of those mix tapes got in the hands of Morales, who loaned it to a bodyguard for Eminem. Eminem heard a star in the mix, and that led to 50 Cent's $1-million signing to Shady Records. The result was the fastest-selling rap debut since the SoundScan era of tracking sales began in 1991.
"While the legal and financial departments at record labels see mix tapes as part of the piracy threat, many of the artists, and executives such as Morales who scout talent, see the mix tape as a filter and a proving ground. He says the wave of mix tape stars is just now starting to build. 'It's just going to get bigger and bigger. You can feel it.'"
Makes you think about the art of sampling, mixing, buring, and where we might be if those big labels could just think hard enough about a business model that would support this kind of creativity, not to mention digital downloads, so that everyone can get paid and we can get on with the business of street level testing, innovation and playing.
Speaking of remixing, here's the Madonna WTF Remix Contest: download her mp3 plant (some say it's a trademark eliminator?) and the other one, or anything else and mix away. The prize: a boycott-riaa t-shirt and 100 boycott-riaa stickers.
Oh, and just because, here's a screen shot of the Madonna.com website hack.
Update 4/23/02: "Like a virgin - Madonna hacked for the very first time" (thanks Frank!).
Universal and EMI are suing Hummer Winblad, the venture capitalists, for "perpetuating global piracy through its $13 million investment in the controversial file-swapping service." Even though Napster filed for bankruptcy last June, ending the copyright infringement suits, record labels want compensation for losses they say resulted from Napster's prolonged life, which came because of investments by Hummer, as well as the $90 million Bertelsmann invested (see that lawsuit asking for $17 billion in damages). Although Hummer is expected to say that the investment they made in April 2000 happened when no court had ruled on the legality of P2P file sharing and Napster.
Suits like this, the threat of suits and the uncertain economy make investing in innovative technologies even more sketchy. Take a look at Cory Doctorow's notes from the Emerging Technologies conference happening now in Santa Clara.
In the meantime (thanks Frank!), Slashdot is discussing "All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster." Favorite comment: "My grandfather told me about how when he was a kid, they traded files on Napster, and how it got in trouble for something about "copyright." I'm not exactly sure what that is, but apparently, information wasn't free back then. I'm glad things have changed." It's not that copyright needs to go away; it's very important, but can we alter our arrangement for digital music business models enough so that statements like these aren't funny, they are just there? So that it's not about draconian all or nothing copyright?
Here is bit from the Salon review on the new Napster bio: "The story of Napster has to be seen, in the end, as a tragedy of wasted potential. Here was a system that improved everything about the way we listened to music, but nobody it touched was better off for it...."
Things seem to be reaching new levels of shrillness, between students at Penn State cut-off from networks or at Annapolis, students sued for writing google-like applications, or suing VC's who invested in something that at the time wasn't deemed illegal. Can we please consider some alternative to these measures, like the compulsory licensing, flat fee schemes we've been discussing, or anything else that will reframe the situation to a more rational tenor? I really don't think the Nancy Reagan "just-say-no" thing works. Not that music is equivalent to illicit drugs, but the abstinence argument definitely doesn't work for music, especially in the digital (media) world. There are alternatives to just suing everyone you can get your hands on for the sake of trying to get your old business model back, after it's been napsterized to smithereens. And there are alternatives to stealing, however, since the record companies and trade associations have most of the control, I think after 5 years of this mess, they need to get the memo: work with people, not against them.
Donna Wentworth points to Matt Morse's latest on the compulsory licensing column by Fred Von Lohmann last week, where a flat fee scheme is discussed. Derek Slater addresses the privacy issues of tracking file sharing and watermarks. Ren Bucholz, who used to manage a radio station follows with some insights into artist compensation and the radio station model, and Alexander Payne responds on taxation and ISPs.
They are talking about the complexities of implementing a compulsory license system to track downloaded music, resulting in an accurate distribution of fees to the artists. One thought is to count watermarked songs as they pass through a pipe, no matter where they are going or who is getting the music. This way privacy for users could be ensured, with even the smallest artists directly compensated. And a portion of the fees would go to artists regardless of who owns the rights. Payne addresses the taxation scheme, suggesting that a government tax wouldn't be the way to go. Instead, he thinks an ISP based market scheme would work, where only downloaders are charged, instead of every user, since many users do not engage in music file sharing. However, the privacy issues are ripe for abuse and if the fees per song were small enough, might not be worth charging directly per user.
I like the central heat metaphor put forth by Greg Blonder, because it protects privacy, makes fees really low because everyone pays, which then encourages the eventual participation by many more than just those currently downloading. Americans like flat fees anyway; witness our cell phone system as compared to Europe. Paying per minute/per song fees isn't as fun. People get niggly over every 25 cent song (mobile minute), as opposed to paying a flat monthly amount, where they use services without thinking. It would also discourage the trading of burned cds, because why bother if a user can just download something reliable and easy? Imagine users emailing each other playlists and links to songs they wanted to share as a form of expression, commenting, and trading recommendations, to legal works.
Maybe there could be a maximum monthly download, say 1gb of watermarked content, before increased flat fees were applied. Also, because most P2P downloading is currently illegal, and because it is something people with particular music tastes engage in now, the content and distribution model mean that the entire internet population does not participate. But if music downloading were simple, cheap (and flat fee), and the available content was directed at a much wider range audience, I think a much higher percentage of those on the internet would participate, making the flat fee a more equitable and reasonable solution. It would encourage experimenting with unknown and obscure content, in formats that are also less popular, and might even be a way of allowing for, even encouraging and compensating, artists sampled by other artists, bringing back a dying category killed by the copyright wars. And, it would maintain user privacy.
"What the [expletive] do you think you're doing?" says Madonna on listening to one of her downloaded, planted mp3s from some napsterlike service. Jon Healey writes that companies trying to start legitimate music downloading services are asking the same question of Madonna, because they feel she is hurting legitimate downloading business ventures. As mentioned before, she is making her "American Life" album available directly to fans. But the NY Times thinks it's all about the buzz. Wouldn't it be ironic if all the controversy in music came down to Madonna promoting herself: "'I live the American dream,' Madonna sings mournfully, going on to rap about soy latte, yoga class and nannies before saying, 'I just realized that nothing is as it seems.'" Okay, but the real deal is getting all artists paid, and getting fans who want mp3s off the hook for stealing and into some reasonable legal model for getting music. Not to mention stopping lawsuits against students who make search engines cataloging their university's servers, for 87 gazillion dollars.
There is also this argument comparing the current state of legal and illegal downloading of music to 19th century coal distribution. Apparently, coal carts would lose half their load to street urchins before making their first delivery, and various patented locking systems were invented to protect the cargo. Ultimately, the distribution model was changed from individual deliveries to one where central heating, provided by landlords who purchased in quantity solved the problem, saving everyone money and ending the coal theft model. So the comparison is to a distribution model where music theft wouldn't be attractive, but where everyone would benefit there too.
Copyright protection and free speech collided again this past weekend when a Georgia state court issued a temporary restraining order (pdf) that prevented two students from presenting information on how to break into and modify a university electronic transactions system at Interz0ne II, a Georgia security and hackers' conference held in Atlanta.
News.com reports that Blackboard Inc., a Washington D.C.-based education software company maker of the Blackboard Transaction System, first sent a cease and desist letter to the organizers of the conference and then turned to a state judge to block the presentation, "Campuswide System Vulnerabilities Update" (full PPT here of 9/02 presentation at Interz0ne I) by co-panelists Georgia Institute of Technology's Billy Hoffman (aka Acidus) and University of Alabama's Virgil Griffith.
The company, in its full complaint (pdf) told the judge that one of the two students physically broken into a networked, switched device, figuring out a way to mimic Blackboard's technology. Hoffman wrote on his website, which now simply links to Interz0ne.com, "if Blackboard wouldn't make their system more secure, or tell people how to secure it, I'll simply make compatible ones myself and give them away." (See also the 2600 mirror of the Acidus site.)
While conference organizers contend that the students' free speech rights were abridged, Blackboard argues that the information gained illegally would harm the company's commercial interests and those of its clients. The state judge agreed, at least temporarily, with the company's claim that because the alleged act would be illegal under the federal and state laws, publication of the resulting information should be blocked. Michael Stanton, a Blackboard spokesman, said "The temporary restraining order pointed out that the irreparable injury to Blackboard, our intellectual property rights and clients far outweighed the commercial speech rights of the individuals in question." Although as Ed Felten points out, the documents don't actually mention the free speech issues and it doesn't appear that the judge considered it when issuing the temporary restraining order.
A hearing on a permanent injunction against publication or presentation of the work will be held in Georgia state court Wednesday.
Fred Von Lohmann of EFF has a column in the Daily Princetonian about compulsory licensing. The idea is your ISP could charge a flat monthly fee so that both record companies, as well as artists, would be paid directly. Fees would be divided based on samplings of traffic and sharing similar to Nielsen ratings.
"The reality is that file-sharing is almost certainly going to remain a fact of campus life. The debate should be about getting artists and copyright owners fairly compensated, not about how many students should be expelled or how to install surveillance equipment on campus networks."
Larry Lessig and Doc Searls have been talking about the particulars of public domain licensing and what it means for weblogs, what Doc calls the "whatever license" (the no rights reserved, public domain license) and Larry Lessig's response saying "I think it is useful and important to distinguish between DRM and DRE -- digital rights management vs. digital rights expression. DRE is a technology simply (1) to express rights. The 'management' in DRM implies a technology -- code -- both (1) to express rights and (2) to enforce it." The Creative commons licensing system is meant to allow creators to voluntarily increase fair use rights for users, over the default copyright standard.
The most interesting thing is this discrepancy pointed out by Larry Lessig, "Finally, one technical point: Our CC licenses expressly state that you can't use our technology with a DRM system that does not adequately protect 'fair use.' As I've not seen a DRM system that adequately protects "fair use" yet, imho, that means you are not allowed to use a CC licenses (sic) with a DRM system yet. At least that is so if you take seriously the commitments the CC license imposes."
But Doc makes one other good point that the public domain license should be added to the list of licenses, even though it is listed in the choose a license section. I've found the same problem can be a bit confusing clicking around on the CC site.
Dave Winer has posted instructions for including a creative commons license in an RSS feed.
Following up on this previous bIPlog post about the DMCA and N2H2, J.T. Stanton attended the April 11th hearings on the DMCA exemptions under Sect. 1201, held at the Library of Congress. Seth Finkelstein with Jonathan Band (representing library associations) supported the exemptions, while David Burt of N2H2 opposed.
Notably: Finkelstein made the distinction that "...filtering is when you block something you don't want to see. Censorship is when someone blocks something they don't want you to see." This set the stage for a hearing where Burt admitted he didn't know much about copyright law, and so he couldn't address the copyright issues, but he did suggest that the database could be checked one URL at a time, and this was enough to know what was blocked and what wasn't, verses making the entire database available to researchers. However, it was pointed out that it's hard to check for something if you don't know what's there.
Next up were proponents Thomas Leavens of Full Audio Corporation and Seth Greenstein of the Digital Media Association verses Steve Englund, the RIAA representative who opposed an exemption for webcasters to be able to read CD's on computers in order to webcast out the music. Apparently, the LOC doesn't generally allow specific exemptions like this, but the webcasters are paying 8.8% royalties to the RIAA so the LOC is at least considering it.
Updated 5/5/03, 10:00 am: This posting has been corrected because the original stated that David Burt in his testimony admitted he didn't know much and couldn't talk in detail about the N2H2 filtering technology, when he actually was referring to his knowledge of copyright law (see transcript).
Update 5/1/03: Transcripts for the hearing have become available here.
Updated 4/15/03: Name of author of blog notes corrrected.MORE...
A federal court in Boston rejected on Thursday a new challenge to the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA when U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns dismissed the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Benjamin Edelman. Civil Rights Advocates attempted to prove with Eldeman's suit that the DMCA provisions making it illegal to circumvent copyright protections impede citizen's fair use rights, in this case Edelman's right to perform research.
A computer researcher at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Edelman, in July of last year, sought a declaratory judgment preventing N2H2 Inc., a business that produces an internet filtering software, from suing him under the anticircumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for violating N2H2's software license.
Eldeman writes: "I seek to research and document sites categorized and restricted by Internet blocking program N2H2. N2H2's block site list is protected by technical measures including an encryption system, but I seek to write software that will nonetheless allow me to access, analyze, and report its contents. However, I fear that conducting this work may expose me to liability for violation of the N2H2 License, of the Copyright Act of 1976, and of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as well as for misappropriation of N2H2's trade secrets. With representation by the ACLU, I therefore seek from federal court a declaratory judgement that I may conduct this research and publication without fear of liability."
As a part of his research, ITworld reports he had planned on reverse engineering Internet filtering software made by N2H2 Inc. for the purpose of researching the effectiveness of the filtering tool. He wanted to access the list of sites that the software blocked and publish them. He also wanted to prove the ineffectiveness of Internet filtering software used by libraries and schools to block pornography.
In the decision released this week Judge Stearns wrote that "there is no plausibly protected constitutional interest that Edelman can assert that outweighs N2H2's right to protect its copyrighted property from invasive and destructive trespass."
Revolution is Not an AOL Keyword was published using a public domain, no rights reserved license, a category to the side of the Creative Commons licensing choices which otherwise make various copyright levels available and include attribution as a minimum requirement for use. The Creative Commons has not seen the No Rights Reserved designation adopted much, compared to the 400k or so discrete webpages which have posted their other licenses since the December 16, 2002 launch. People seem more interested in Some Rights Reserved, although there are a couple of examples like Natalie Merchant, who is recording public domain music, and Oprah Winfrey who has started a public domain book club. And then there is Sal Randolf's "Free Words" project, where her books are placed in bookstores and labeled free, but the words too are free, as they are in the public domain. Derek Slater has also written about his dilemma with public domain blog publishing.
The desire to protect something, not through copyright or for profit, but simply to keep the integrity of a work intact is strong. Fundamentally, people want to connect to each other through an understanding of meaning. And yet it is nearly impossible to do perfectly as a direct, fixed conduit from creator to audience. When something is free on the Internet, the integrity of the original remains, as much as anything can be considered really original. But as it is copied and changed, linked to and sampled, there is a heightened understanding, as well as a complete loss, of any attribution, depending on the republishing. Sampling, reuse and innovation prompt questions of possession and control, issues that test the creator's ego, the need to be known and connected to a work, to say where and how that work is used. I believe audiences understand innately riffs and reuses, and take meaning without always needing tacit clues for understanding. Interestingly, even though Revolution is available for the taking, many of the blogs and links to the work have attributed, or linked back to the bIPlog in some way. Better still, many more did not.
Text on paper, in the context of a deconstruction, can be analyzed to get at what's implied underneath. Text embedded with links presents an explicit layer of the creator's intentions and expression underneath, creating a linking universe across and between blogs and the web. Linking was part of the original Revolution, but not every reprint contained the links. The essence of the piece changed with each sampling, as people rearranged the meaning, posted different sections, with or without links, and with or without attribution. In fact, it appears that as it was copied without attribution, it spread further.
If you print out a copy of Gil Scott-Heron's Television and the HTML coded copy, with all the links explicitly on the page, of Revolution, you would have a hard time finding the similarity in exact expression. Though as a whole it is an elaboration, continuation, imitation, even derivative of the original. This description is all about the elements a judge would consider in a fair use analysis in case of dispute, which would consider the idea/expression dichotomy as a backdrop and the four elements of fair use analysis (which is sometimes literally done by placing the works side by side for comparison in terms of same number of words, etc.).
It has occurred to me that creators concerned with copyright could benefit from the process of making something they could profit from, but instead put into the public domain, placed digitally on the Internet to go wherever it will, in whatever format with whatever parts audiences and republishers find compelling as they respond to it. Dropping barriers that keep the audience from deciding for themselves how to understand and connect to content would seem to be the ultimate in encouraging innovation and reuse in the public domain (pdf).
The Weblogs, Information & Society panel will be held Thursday at 6:00 p.m. PST at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. Dan Gillmor, Scott Rosenberg, Donna Wentworth, Edward Felten and Ernest Miller are on the panel talking about how they use blogging in their professional practices, moderated by John Battelle. Ross Mayfield will present right before the panel on Social Software. Webcasting information will be linked here shortly. Please join us!
Note: Donna Wentworth and Ed Felten will conference call into the event from the East Coast.
Update: The notice page now has the outgoing webcast link which will be effective tomorrow night.
Joseph Barillari, a student at Princeton, has done an analysis of the RIAA's complaint against Dan Peng (Princeton '05) where he concludes that Peng's service, Wake, is 1. more like a search engine in that it "indexed a pre-existing network" compared to Napster which created the network; 2. Wake indexed all public documents on the server; and 3. Wake is a pure search engine, and therefore protected under the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA. Check out the Daily Princetonian's article.
Update 04/08/03: Barillari is one of Ed Felten's students.
Update 04/10/03: Here is more analysis and links on all four of the cases.
Alan Greenspan comments on the balance between copy protection and innovation: "Indeed, the nature of intellectual property is importantly different from physical property. In particular, one individual's use of an idea does not make that idea unavailable to others for their own, simultaneous use. Furthermore, new ideas almost invariably build on old ideas in ways that are difficult or impossible to delineate.
If our objective is to maximize economic growth, are we striking the right balance in our protection of intellectual property rights? Are the protections sufficiently broad to encourage innovation but not so broad as to shut down follow-on innovation? How appropriate is our current system--developed for a world in which physical assets predominated--for an economy in which value increasingly is embodied in ideas rather than tangible capital?"
Where to begin? You probably already know about the RIAA suing 4 students for untold sums (trillions has been bandied about, can we say judgment proof?). Ed Felten links to the complaints. Check out Kuro5shin: the RIAA defense. One solution being talked about that may be more realistic than going after the college students is to levy ISP traffic, which would keep Verizon, et. al. from having to reveal their customers and get them off the liability hook. But everyone else including Congress would have to agree so that the levy was applied equally across all traffic.
Tomorrow, All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster comes out, and there is an excerpt in the LA Times.
From Frank: Eric Garland (of Big Champagne) has posted his testimony before the California Senate Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry (Thanks Frank!). "So, even if we believe we can solve the peer-to-peer problem, we can take little comfort that this will stem the tide. A new approach is overdue. The music industry in particular must seize this opportunity now, four years after the fact. Remarkably, it is still not too late."
And then there's Radio Head's "Hail to the Thief" released early in rough form, on the darknet, two months before the official release.
Frank Field says the NY Times has pulled back from its position last week of redirecting old links to a page that charges fees. Our links should work again. Thanks Frank!
Diane Feinstein introduced The Privacy Act of 2003, S745 on 3/31/03. This legislation would make a two tier system, dividing personal information into two categories: 1. information like SS#'s, driver's license, some health and financial data, which would require customer's opting into a system allowing a company to sell the data, and 2. name and address information, allowing people to opt-out of systems where companies could sell that data. Importantly, the bill will "Protect the privacy of information regardless of the medium through which it is collected." So this might include RFID tag scans, IP addresses and anything we haven't thought of yet. It would still mean the information was collected through surveillance, but at least it couldn't be sold so easily.
Yesterday at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, they talked about talked about RFID tags (discussed here before) and solutions to consumer tracking of goods, once the goods leave the store at Plenary Session #12 on Auto ID: Tracking Everywhere: with Katherine Albrecht (CASPIAN), Mark Roberti, Richard M. Smith and J.D. Abolins (moderator). One solution put forth by Roberti was to get a $200 scrambler for your house, so that everything you own, which in future might contain a tag not turned off (or killed) at the store, or that you were told by the store/seller was turned off, but actually wasn't, would be rendered unable to transmit. However, what happens when you, wearing tagged clothes, tagged personal effects like sunglasses, keys, wallet, cell phone, drive your car with tagged Michelin tires, etc., to a store. Everything is then not scrambled, the chips are turned on and being scanned from the parking lot and all points around the store, and they are linking past purchases including dates and costs, to your current purchases, to where you go in the store, to what entertainment you buy, and to what you drive, causing them to market items to you in the store based on this information, and even then selling this information later. What happens if you don't have $200 for the home descrambler? Does this mean people with money who are informed can protect their privacy, at least at home, but the rest can't?
One more question, would a scrambler device constitute circumvention of the RFID tag system, and would it then be subject to DMCA anti-circumvention claims, if you scrambled RF signals at home? (This is a crazy question, yes, but in light of printers and garage door openers and the DMCA, what's next?)
The New York Times has just changed their archival policy so that all links we've used in the bIPlog that are more than 30 days old will redirect to a page requesting that you purchase the article for $2.95. Links have worked before now, even though articles were months or years old.
Vin Crosbie, President of Digital Deliverance, talked last week at the JSchool about news online, and the mechanisms and logic that publishers use to charge for certain kinds of content (presentations here). Regarding the NY Times, he mentioned them in a survey of similar publishers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. The publisher of the WSJ said "don't charge", it's not worth it, as it took 6 years to get them from 60k subscribers to 600k, and only because of their unique position as a premiere content source for market news have they even come this far. The FT.com said that charging has been disasterous for them. The NY Times told Crosbie they had no plans to charge for any more of their content than they did then. However, that publisher is no longer at the Times, so my guess is that the new publisher is trying to figure out how to make more from their archives.
But Crosbie said that these publishers had generally found that charging drastically reduced their page views. As an example, in the case of the Irish Times, which before they started charging for the online paper had 1.25 million unique users per day, and 25 million page views, experienced a dramatic reduction of visitors to 7000 people signed up with 1.7 million page views. Their banner ads collapsed.
The conclusion is that ads drop so much, and it harms information flows and your brand for the future, that if you want future users, and to keep current users from going elsewhere, the content must be free.
Jenny Levine notes this: "Just a friendly reminder that pretty much every library has some type of access to the NY Times archive, and many also provide remote access to it via a link from their web site. It's not ideal for Google searching or the "opportunity to assert authority," but if you need a specific article, you can get it from your local library for free."
The Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice held hearings yesterday on House Bill No. 2743 (pdf), "legislation to establish a crime of illegal internet and broadband access and establishing penalties therefor". Derek Slater has notes. John Palfrey of the Berkman Center at Harvard testified at the hearing about how there are already plenty of laws criminalizing theft, but this new bill will cause many problems with all kinds of technologies. Matthew Morse also attended and testified (more info from him here) about the harms this bill would cause. Amy Isabelle of the MPAA also testified, saying this bill was about theft, not copyright but agreed that it might need revising to fix problems. Derek was there before Matt and they missed each other, so check both sets of notes for information about what happened at the hearing. All of these notes and presentations are well worth reading. These state level DMCA's are far more draconian than the DMCA, and very little attention is being give to the bills, or was given to the seven (yes, seven!) laws already enacted.
Check out Ed Felten's latest on the Super (Mini) DMCAs. He reviews the language of the bills and what a mess this will cause for the Internet and many of the technologies we use to communicate as well as research into encryption and security.
Update 04/03/03: Derek Slater has an update on the revised version of the bill from the MPAA, and has a quick analysis.
Update 04/04/03: Corrected Author Matthew Morse's name.
Reason.org has a piece on Digital TV, Prisoners of Digital Television, by Mike Godwin discussing the broadcast flag and government regulations, various economic solutions for digital TV distribution, and some solutions to these problems. In particular, the incredibly far reaching government regulations that would be necessary to institute the broadcast flag are discussed, including the changes to all of the obvious hardware, but also the non-obvious hardware like cell phones, medical scanners and astronomy equipment in order to control "what the content industry calls 'the analog hole' -- their unsightly term for analog devices' tendency to ignore or sidestep digitally based protections."
Hardware would have to be tamper-proof, operating systems regulation would affect the market, which might, if Linux were controlled, allow Microsoft to completely lock-in the market. And of course, he addresses the issue that computers and the Internet are fundamentally about making copies, and free flows of information, as well as looking at the spectrum, public policy, and consumer and broadcaster issues.
Godwin also mentions this interesting idea: "Nonsimultaneous delivery of premium content may constitute a new application for pure peer-to-peer distribution. (It would be a great irony if the Internet's peer-to-peer functionality, once regarded as an unmitigated problem, could be harnessed to enhance the delivery of commercial content in ways that financially benefit content producers even as they increase consumer choice.)"
Some countries, like the United States, have a very large IT sector while others, like China and Russia do not. Nothing new about this. Now, however, the Business Software Association, an antipiracy organization with members including Microsoft, Adobe Systems, and Cisco Systems, offers a new explanation for this.
As a part of the larger effort to drum up support from lawmakers and law enforcement over antipiracy legislations, the BSA recently commissioned a study (pdf) that will show that nations with low piracy rates had large IT sectors, whereas countries with high piracy rates, such as China, had the smallest IT sectors. As News.Com reports, the conclusion for the BSA is that cracking down on piracy would help the growth of the IT sectors, create new jobs and thus bolster weak economies.
However there seems to be a much simpler explanation to the data collected by the study. Maybe there is a possibility that China and Russia have lesser developed IT sectors just because they have lesser developed economies overall and that piracy does not have that much to do with it.
"Well, guess what April Fools! The Honest Thief file-sharing venture was no more than a publicity stunt.
Our goal was first and foremost to get some attention for our book: The Honest Thief. Secondly we wanted to confront the public with the practice of honest stealing: the tools that everybody uses to have success. Very few people will openly admit that they use these tools. In this respect our campaign was an attempt to create success to get our message across: everybody, in one way or another, is an "honest" thief.
Whether we have failed or succeeded, we hope that people won't forget the honest part of honest stealing."
Update 04/03/03: Wired reports on this, including this: "Paul Grabowicz, director of the New Media program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, said that this hoax joins a long list of schemes perpetrated on the Net. 'It's common human behavior that's suddenly distributed over a global network. Instead of a couple of suckers, you could potentially get millions. I don't care how good a reporter you are or how reputable a media organization, you can get snookered by one of these things. Reporters really need to be on their guard.'"