bIPlog has moved to Boalt.org, the student organization for Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley's Law School. We have a number of new writers who will join bIPlog, including Aaron Burstein, Brian Carver, Will DeVries, Alex Eaton-Salners, Christen Lee, Elizabeth Miles, Aaron Perzanowski and Tara Wheatland. All are law students at Boalt, and active members at Boalt. It's exciting to have bIPlog expand with new folks writing on the topics of IP, security, privacy and digital media. I'm really looking forward to working with them to make this a great blog. Please come check out the new site!
Note that we are maintaining all the old links and posts here at the Journalism School, but have copied everything to the new site at Boalt.org for continuity.
In the interest of choice, I'm hoping they do a demi. You know those marketing guys say that when you offer small, medium and large, by far the biggest seller is medium. Demi-link. How 'bout it? The tagline could read: "Like two espressos after lunch, with grappa. An EFF-correcto."
Anyway, I'm thrilled the EFF has brought active blogging back to its site and I really enjoy reading Fred Von Lohmann, who I haven't seen blog before, write about Wicked Player Pianos and such. It's only occasionally we hear from him on Pho. Though I must say that as I got to the end, I noticed what turned out to be a link to their "File Sharing" category (it's to the left of the Permalink which is to the left of the Technorati cosmos link. For a split second, I thought he was going to share a piano file with me. But oh well... I am discombobulated a little (you have no idea the kind of day I have had, what with 2 hours traveling 1 mile in the hot sun on the bay bridge because some guy decided to jump off).
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Fred is joined by Jason Schultz (of Copyfight and Geeklaw) and Donna Wentworth (Founder and uber-bloggerati member of Copyfight) on the sized "deep" blog, and Ren Bucholz who's doing the miniLink blog.
Also, I've switched the blogroll at the right, to reflect these great blog additions.
Computers, Freedom and Privacy that is, Ap 20-23, 2004. The major tech policy conference of the year gets more expensive if you register after today. Act now Students are $75 today! And with a program like this, you can't justify *not* going to some of this (It's at the Clairmont Hotel in Berkeley).
Well, everybody including Mark Cuban (the owner of the Dallas Mavericks who just started blogging) is talking about music and copyright somewhere, it seems. Cuban has suddenly become very active on Pho talking about the Leahy-Hatch bill proposing to make file sharing criminal. (Side Note: Mark mentioned a company he started selling powered milk as an example toward the entrepreneurial spirit he thinks the music business and RIAA should consider, instead of fighting file sharing with lawsuits and lobbying their congress-buddies for extra big sticks to crack on the file sharers. Other Phosters are arguing back. Online discourse is fun, isn't it? And Ernie Miller notes how this puts Hatch on the side of porn companies. Oh the wicked webs we weave....)
Folks have also been talkin about the UNC Harvard study on music downloading:
- Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates. Moreover, these estimates are of moderate economic significance and are inconsistent with claims that file sharing is the primary reason for the recent decline in music sales.
Oh my. Anywho. UC Berkeley has been notified that of the 532 lawsuits filed last week, there are a few "yet-to-be-named" students. Holy-Batman, Robin! File-sharing in Berkeley! Apparently, students aren't fazed (title of the article next to the headline in yesterday's Daily Cal about the suits).
I love the quote in the c|net article:
- "It's important for everyone to understand that no one is immune from the consequences of illegally 'sharing' music files on (peer to peer) networks," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement.
God forbid that anyone might get immunity! Does this mean the negotiations for immunity are over? Dang. I though we were offering two Donovan albums and a lifetime subscription to the (semi)winning Bears home football games in exchange for immunity. You go out for a cappuccino and come back to find they've totally rejected that offer. Last time I take a coffee break.
- "Lawsuits are an important part of the larger strategy to educate file sharers about the law, protect the rights of copyright owners, and encourage music fans to turn to these legitimate services."
Well, get ready to be educated folks. You know the kind! Where the law says that if you shoplift a CD from a store, you can max at up to a $1000 fine verses the $150,000 per song statutory limit for file-sharing. Woo-hoo, is that edifying. And to think they only raised our tuition 40% this year, and 30% last. Gosh, Shatzie should get on the stick with Cary Sherman cause he's missin the boat (doncha love those mixed metaphors when discussing the two of them? Sticks. Boat. I love it.)!
Anyhow, they're going for the big bucks this time says My-Thuan Tran.
- "Obviously, college students are a big part of the problem, and therefore it was only a question of time before university users would be named defendants," Sherman said. ... The association has settled more than 400 cases so far, with an average settlement of $3,000 each. "This is not a revenue-generating exercise," Sherman said.
I repeat. Not a revenue-generating exercise. Right now the suits are in the John Doe Phase, so they're being sent to Berkeley who will then identify the students, after which the students will be served. Better move quickly, though, cause school is over in 6 weeks, and then all those students from all over the world will fly to all manner of places, making service a nightmare (or fun summer vacation for those adventurous process servicers!)
One thing, in the paper version of the Daily Cal, there was a cute little yellow and red chart, detailing legal verses illegal. Not online though. But here's what it said:
- Legal vs. Illegal
- Legal: Copying a CD onto your computer, an analog or digital tape, or special audio CD-R's for personal use.
Oaky doaky. And the CD-R doesn't have to be special either. Just recordable.
- Illegal: Sharing those copyrighted files through peer-to-peer networks, instant messaging service or private local networks. Giving or lending burned CD's to others is also illegal.
Wait a minute. That last part. Yeah. What's that? No, don't think so. That is legal, and just because it's digital verses the analog tape mentioned above as legal, doesn't make the digital illegal. As long as it's non-commercial, it's okay to make a cd, or burn your iTunes or whatever, to share with a (real) friend as part of your fair use rights. Even iTunes says so with their 3 copy policy.
- Illegal: Uploading AND Downloading copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa.
Yes, this is illegal under the current law. So don't be trading on P2P networks unless the content is legally sharable, lest you want an expensive Cary Sherman education.
From the invite:
You are invited to a conference on "China's Digital Future" at the UC
Berkeley campus on Friday & Saturday, April 30 & May 1, 2004, sponsored by
the Graduate School of Journalism.
The conference features a keynote address by Stanford University Law Prof.
Lawrence Lessig and presentations by many scholars, technologists, business
people and journalists who are experts on China. (Ed. Note: Jonathan Zittrain will be there too.)
Check the conference website for the schedule and a partial list of
speakers. The conference is free, but you need to register online at:
Please feel free to forward this invitation to anyone else who might be
interested in attending.
We look forward to seeing you April 30 & May 1 in Berkeley for a stimulating
two days of discussions.
What's the impact of the internet on your work. If you are a musician or songwriter, fill it out! Very important considering the "spate" of lawsuits that keep "flooding" consumers (sorry, just had to make fun of those words that those reporters overuse...). Jason Schultz does the math though, figuring that each filesharer would need to set aside $0.01483 cents per month average in order to cover settlements across all filesharers. But then Jason points out that even if every suit got the RIAA a cool million, that figure would jump to just under five bucks. Well, that is similar to the EFF's plan. But I still think we need to hear from musicians and songwriters, and more than just those who make the big bucks and therefore get their viewpoints into the media. Just do it!
Thanks to Frank for the links.
Donna Wentworth sends news that some folks will be joining her: Elizabeth Rader, Ernest Miller, Jason Schultz, Aaron Swartz, and Wendy Seltzer.
Good luck guys!
And now to take off for 48 hours of much needed rest.
Taking a couple of days off... back Wednesday.
Courtesy of the Smoking Gun.
Update: doncha just love how the press deals with IP? So ABC is talking about how Trump has filed a "copyright" request with the PTO, and Left, Right and Center on NPR just said that Trump has filed a "patent" request for "You're Fired." I'll agree, Trump has a formula, but it's more for his hair than the way he gets You're Fired (okay, that was an awful joke, but then, he has awful hair, you be the judge as to which is more awful). Anyway, just to confirm, people, this is a Trademark issue, not processes which get patented, or copyright which is about expression. Trademark. About names. So that, you know, people don't confuse your clothing or casino products with You're Fired on them, with other people's casinos or clothing with You're Fired. Because God knows if some non-Donald casino was the You're Fired Casino (presumably to emphasize the loser aspect of the whole thing), Trump doesn't want us getting confused with his You're Fired Casino. No problem.
by Farhad Manjoo/Salon (sub req or watch ad).
- "We use the Net as a lifeline," George says. "For anybody for whom this isn't their native country, you'd understand."
- But Comcast, the company that provides George's high-speed Internet service, didn't understand. Last August, the company sent him a letter telling him to quit it -- he was using the Internet too much. The firm said he was violating Comcast's "acceptable use" policy, that he was somehow abusing his service. This surprised George, because as far as he knew he wasn't doing anything illegal or unseemly online -- "We're not using porn sites," he says -- and his contract with the firm didn't spell out any limits on his Internet use. When he called the company, it gave him the "runaround" -- nobody would tell George specifically what he should do to bring his use back in line with Comcast's policies, other than that, as a general matter, he ought to consider using the Internet much, much less.
Even if he was using porn sites, it's not illegal. The fact that Comcast would monitor his use and then tell him he was using his service too much when it's an unlimited service is disconcerting.
- George is not alone. Since the summer, Comcast has warned hundreds, possibly thousands, of customers of potential service termination due to high Internet use. The customers who receive these letters, people who'd always been told that their Internet service was "unlimited," find themselves in a Kafkaesque comedy of errors: The customers say that Comcast tells them they're using the service too much, but it won't give them any meaningful measure of how much is too much.
But it gets worse, Comcast has clamped down on VPN system use by customers, their TOS says no to P2P of any sort, and they allowed AOL to sell it's high speed internet service over Comcast lines but only if they did not offer streaming video that directly competed with Comcast's offerings, and when other Comcast competitors and consumer groups demanded to have the FCC look at Comcast's secret deals as part of the Disney Merger, the CEO called Michael Powell and the issue was dropped.
They are anticompetitive and working hard to maintain their monopoly services, among other things, by hiring Victoria Clarke, Donald Rumsfeld's former spokeswoman, and Lorine D. Card, the sister-in-law of Andrew Card, George W. Bush's chief of staff to remain exceedingly well connected to top government. Keeping the internet open and unrestricted is becoming more and more worrisome.
Sean Savage says:
- I know, you're not quite so sure about Garamond. But you -know- you're
into Bob Dylan. So give it a chance.
Indulging my fantasies about moveable typefaces. Course, the Zepplin/Times NR is pretty hot, though BigG/Baskerville has really nice letters. But the Beatle's Dear Prudence/Book Antiqua has to be my fav. Now that's art.
Due to privacy fears. John Schwartz/NYT reports that only 5 of the original 16 states are still in the program. Matrix was supposed to relate databases across many states and had funding from the Homeland Security Administration, and the purpose was to sift through records to find patterns of suspect behavior, among other things. BIPlog reported on this before, though it wasn't mentioned in any of the presentations at the Privacy conference I attended this past weekend at Stanford. There, more of the focus was on CAPS and CAPS II.
Yesterday, I attended the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society's "Securing Privacy in the Internet Age" Symposium. It's going on today but I'm not attending. Too many conferences, and I have a lot of work to do before tomorrow.
So it was a great day, interesting presentations on lots of privacy issues, including but not limited to leaky technologies like RFID, Sensor Networks (Pam Samuelson's new research area), as well as policies on metadata, as well as some assessments of the challenges Chief Privacy Officer's face.
Lots of interesting folks as well, from academia around the world, companies and law firms with practices in security and privacy, advocacy groups and government. The CA Office of Privacy Protection Chief was there, Joanne McNabb, who on a break talked about calling Citibank where she got a hold of the Privacy Officer, who promised to send her their policy for sharing information for review. Stay tuned on their website to see if Citibank follows though.
One of the best presentations was by Jonathan Weinberg on RFID and Privacy. Pam Samuelson's on Sensor Networks, though she is at the beginning of this work, was also fascinating. Maybe it's just because I'm very interested in this stuff, but I thought they were great. The leaky tech presentation on P2P had good info on the topic, and reviewed the privacy issues that would affect the EFF's new alternative compensation system if it were adopted, but really, it feels like the reality of people's behavior on the internet makes this proposal obsolete. Yes, tons of people use P2P, but as more move to private *real* friend sharing networks, and bitcatching evolves (which seems like an extremely efficient and interesting way for sharing large files for anything including media across the internet and across many users), there may be no need.
Also, another amazing story as told by Alex Fowler of PriceWaterhouseCoopers was about how 3 years ago a statement was made at Davos by the CEO of Monsanto: they figure there are $50 mil lost sales if you ignore privacy fundamentalists. That's a high price for ignoring your customers when it comes to privacy. Fowler recommends that privacy that is good for users is good business. This is something I've believed for a long time, and I'm trying to implement this view into the design of my current project, where user's own their data, and we own the aggregate, and will not share any personal data of users under any circumstances (except a court order or subpoena, and certainly not to sell...). I've never heard anyone at a company advocate for this, and so it was really an amazing presentation.MORE...
On screen now at Media Morphosis Day 3:
"Insure content security with baked in Digital Rights Management."
Chris: What's the point?
Michael Silberman: I think DRM could be used to keep people from stealing, and get them to pay for content. And it could be used to facilitate the making of content.
DRM for news? Okay, your content has high value for maybe, 24 hours? You want to lock it up? There is no DRM that has never been cracked.
What IS the point? This is about being an authority in your field, being a voice for good trustworthy content and linking out to others talking about the same stuff. Why would you try to stop people from getting that value? Why would you want to keep people from seeing your stuff. Your value comes from the network effect of lots of people looking and talking about you. Take a page from the Wall Street Journal to which noone can link. Take a page from the RIAA, who has been so incredibly successful with DRM. People are mad at the media. Care to make it worse?
Let's move on to something constructive. Design content so it can be reused and accessed.
And here are the comments from the mediamorphosis blog:
Mike, I would really encourage you to read Vin Crosbie's blog (Digital Deliverance) about charging for content. In reference to your comment that you give away content for 7 days and then charge, I'm wondering whether you are using actual DRM. Looking at your site (I've never bought any content there) it appears that you have a firewall. DRM is a whole lot different. Wrapping the content in some DRM and sending it over the internet to a buyer is what I am objecting to. The idea that you would, say, stop a buyer of an article from say, emailing that content to a friend, when if they purchased a paper article, they could easily photocopy it and send it, really annoys people.
DRM is something each content user defines, so you would decide what sort of restrictions to make, but users, if they have trouble opening the article, sending it to friends and family or saving it indefinitely, all of which annoy users, don't reflect the social norms they understand with fair use of news content, and confuses them, but hackers will figure out how to get around.
I would really encourage you to spend time with users to see how they interact with content, talk with them about what they want, see how they use it. Because DRM (which is different than firewalls) as both the technology solution, as well as a legal structure, are not the way to go with content that is most valuable for 24 hours (verses say a hundred years potentially with a novel or movie or music) and that then has the potential, if you share it, to keep you in front of users as an authority and make users happy to be apart of your inforamtion community.
Posted by: mary hodder at March 12, 2004 02:33 PM
"And we're not stopping people from seeing our stuff by doing so - that's a myth."
"If we ever find we can make more money giving it away, well then we'll do that."
i work for a company that makes millions selling content. please don't mistake my thoughts on intellectual property as unrealistically utopian. at our company we are seeing huge business opportunities by giving our customers new tools to make sense and derivative works with our content.
if you are asking your audience to become a content producer, why shackle them with the inability to create derivative works? if they slap the same restraints on you, participatory journalism is not possible.
we live in a period of history when each one of us is - or can quickly become - a global media company.
i think the way to make money will be through developing cooperative content relationships. there have to be mutually beneficial arrangements, which will foster that.
Posted by: chris willis at March 12, 2004 02:30 PM
I trust things less if they use DRM - a sort of instinctive dislike of "protected" things. I'm not quite sure why. It could be my natural rebelliousness - I don't like them telling me not to do something, same as any teenager. I usually respect copyright laws, but DRM is...offensive, not defensive.
Posted by: Britta Gustafson at March 12, 2004 01:34 PM
Actually, we (theage.com.au/ smh.com.au) give our content away for the first week and then lock it up so we can earn a lot of money selling it - and we do make a lot, enough to make building walls around content that is expensive to create.
The utopian idea that all intellectual property should be free is very "hey wow man", but I prefer Silberman's point - which more accurately was that a smart DRM system should be built in to make it easy to slice and dice content created by media companies, while retaining authorial ownership.
And we're not stopping people from seeing our stuff by doing so - that's a myth. It's available at a tiny price.
And if you wanted to, you can crack the DRM system quite easily. You can hack into NASA too if you wanted to, because with technology someone will always find a way to do so. That doesn't mean you should.
If we ever find we can make more money giving it away, well then we'll do that.
Posted by: Mike van Niekerk at March 12, 2004 01:31 PM
Right now on screen, we're watching a series of images, interspersed with words, Lessig-poetry-slam-style. "Change." We're set up like the UN, with one person walking around in the middle. Talking about how to get people who are younger to pick up the paper. Oliver is responding to this saying that the paper has only so much info, and as a media consumer, he wants the source, but wants to see more info than can fit in the paper, and he doesn't want to kill trees. Dan Gillmor responds that it's a damned good argument, and he hopes it will get solved. But there is a need for traditional reporting, for the deep investigation (funding, editing, distribution). Dan and I had dinner last night and spent a lot of time talking about how blogs need traditional journalism and journalism needs blogs, and the biz model is kind of a mess for newspapers, as well as those that rely on newspapers like the wire services.
Oliver/Kos says I haven't seen anything since Watergate that warrants going to a paper. He wants to go to a blogger on music or movies for that.
Esther Dyson is saying there are two arguments: online verses paper, and traditional verses non-traditional. Leave the dead-tree argument behind.
Interesting discussion, though I have to say that just having completed a study of 30 people, asking about their news and search habits, seeing the results, it's not that people don't want news, but they want it another way than traditional news is used to giving it. Of these people, 60% were under 35, 40% were 36-70. The average self-reported news consumption was 45 minutes a day, and while they occasionally look at papers when on BART or out, they reported that they do this consuming online. Every one said this. While people are notoriously bad at self-reporting, and the skew of the participants is that they are Craig's List readers who have broadband at home, so it is a unique subset, it is still an amazing statistic.
And what they are describing up front here is a reflection of these always-on used-to-be-consumers but now they are building their own feeds people. People who want to get it how, when, where they want it. Untethered. Unencumbered. From lots of different sources. People who use blogs to filter their links and attention to manage the tremendous amount of information coming at us from traditional and non-traditional sources.
Donna points to the lawsuit (pdf) brought by Electronic Frontier Foundation, five library associations, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Consumers Union against the FCC over the Broadcast Flag decision made last November 4.
- "The FCC's digital broadcast television mandate is a step in the wrong direction because it would make digital television cost more and do less, undermining innovation, fair use, and competition," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann, "The FCC overstepped its bounds, unduly restricting consumers and manufacturers when it issued its broadcast flag ruling."
And Jason Schultz notes Ralph Nader's long time coming victory lap over Mastercard. MC sued Nader for trademark and copyright infringement because he parodied the "priceless" commercials, by running campaign spots showing the amount it took to buy off candidates on certain issues. As Jason says, Victory is Priceless when it comes to fair use.
His notes are here. Read all about who gets it, who doesn't and who ought to rethink their conception of physical media in the digital age.... Almost like being there.
as noted by Avi Rubin (link via Ed Felten, who by the way, has been hitting it out of the ball park on a daily basis for the past month and a half with the most fascinating posts - he must have had a restful holiday break...).
Anyway, check out Rubin's story. It points to things that are better than expected, or worse, with the Diebold voting machines, and things we need to keep an eye on, like procedures between the system and those controlling the system, so that security is maintained. But one interesting point he noted is that voters overall loved the machines, saying they were easy to use. Though he concludes that this view of an easy-to-use machine may make it much more difficult to fight the underlying, and more invisible problem, of the security and accountability issues with the machines and overall system, which he also found during his judging yesterday.
Robert Moore of 321 Studios and Protect Fair Use.org just called my cell phone. Or a recorded message of him did, asking me to call Amy Pascal at "Columbia" (which is now evidently Sony), at 310-244-4000, to tell her I wanted her to supported my fair use right to backup copies of my DVD's. I'm a buyer of 321's DVDxCopy so I suppose that's how they have the number.
I have tons of DVD's and there must be a bunch from Columbia, so while it's sort of strange that Moore is calling people this way, I decided to give it a try.
Well, Amy's assistant was most accomodating. I said, "Hi, I'm assuming I can't talk to Amy Pasqual, but I'm calling..." and he said, "about 321 Studios. Got it. Thanks." Click.
Ohh. What great customer service. Makes me want to run right out to buy ten more DVD's from Columbia. Thanks for not taking my name and deluding me into thinking that you actually care about what your customers think. This way, we've all got it straight.
Report Raises Questions About Fighting Online Piracy by John Schwartz/NYT is about the Committee for Economic Development report that just came out (Susan Crawford was on this project too, so you know it's be well considered): "Promoting Innovation and Economic Growth: The Special Problem of Digital Intellectual Property." (Note it's a pdf.)
The article says the report concludes the entertainment industry's pursuit of tough new laws to protect copyrighted materials from online piracy is bad for business and for the economy.
The report recommends:
- 1. Because quick legislative or regulatory solutions for the problem of digital copyright protection pose risks to innovation and economic growth, and are likely to have unintended consequences in a period of rapid technological change, we should move slowly. Our first concern should be to "do no harm." We should dedicate the next two years to attempting to build consensus about the appropriate role in the digital age for traditional legal safety valves that balance the exclusive rights of creators in copyright regimes with users' rights. The Digital Connections Council looks forward to facilitating this national and international dialogue.
- 2. The development and testing of new business models for the distribution of creative content should be given the highest priority by the content industries. We should not turn to law or regulation to protect any particular business model.
- 3. Existing solutions to the issue of unauthorized uses, such as enforcement and education, should continue to be explored.
- 4. We recognize the need for digital rights management (DRM) systems that will allow creators to be rewarded for their efforts. We are skeptical about government-mandated DRM, and we recommend that manufacturers not be required to build in mandated copy protection technologies. But DRM systems provide a useful "speed bump" for consumers by inhibiting unauthorized uses of materials. During this period of consensus building about "safety valves" in intellectual property law, we encourage continued experimentation in private DRM systems. In particular, the capacity of such systems to accommodate users' rights traditionally allowed under intellectual property law needs to be further explored so that the appropriate copyright balance can be maintained. If government-mandated systems are proposed, they should be evaluated on the basis of their capability to maintain such a balance and their convenience for consumers. Consumers should play a substantial role in evaluating and approving mandated technological protection systems.
- 5. Market-based economic tools that provide incentives for copyright-holders to facilitate follow-on innovation should be considered--including measures to provide earlier dedication of copyrighted materials to the public domain.
- We are sympathetic to the problems confronting the content distribution industry. It is beyond question that this industry faces real problems that deeply affect its future. But these problems -- perfect copies of high-value digital works being transmitted instantly around the world at almost no cost -- require clear, concentrated thinking, rather than quick legislative or regulatory action. As Thomas Edison said: "There is time for everything." Given the present limitations on bandwidth, the immaturity of many technical protection systems, and the inevitable unforeseen consequences of governmental actions, there is time to lay a stable foundation for intellectual property rules in the digital world.
- Given CED's mandate, the Digital Connections Council has attempted to examine the current digital copyright issues within the context of concern for the overall economic health of this country. We believe this economic perspective -- and in particular an understanding of the sequential nature of innovation -- has not been adequately taken into account in the public debate. We also believe it is not too late for thoughtful discussion to find solutions that will prove broadly acceptable and encourage self-enforcement rather than an increase in litigation or regulation. It will be essential for thoughtful and inventive key stakeholders to sit down together to work through these problems. The Digital Connections Council looks forward to joining in such discussions and hopes this report will provide a helpful perspective.
Let's hope stakeholders includes the people formerly known as consumers.
I wonder if this case, and the decision in favor of Berkshire Information Systems against competitor, Inquiry Management Systems, won't cause more support for HR 3261. That's the bill that would make up a whole new sort of intellectual property protection for databases, and is...
- backed by big database companies like Reed Elsevier and Thomson but opposed by Amazon.com, AT&T, Comcast, Google, Yahoo and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce....
- If IMS had won on its DMCA arguments and if the decision had been upheld on appeal, the case would have significantly expanded the scope of legal protection that database owners enjoy.
Let's not allow the bill to pass that would significantly expand the scope of legal protection that database owners enjoy.
Last Friday, 321 Studios was told by the Northern District Court to stop selling their ripping software, and earlier today they emailed this (I purchased a copy of their software to backup my DVD collection incase of damage or loss, as many of them are obscure collectables):
Dear 321 Studios Customers & Friends,
As many of you may have already heard, Judge Illston of the Northern District of California Court ruled against us last Friday and in favor of the movie studios. This is the first major decision in the six lawsuits in which we are now involved.
Her ruling included an injunction preventing us from continuing to sell the current version of our popular DVDXCOPY software if it included a ripper. This injunction takes effect 7 days from her order. While we do not agree with the rationale behind the decision, we intend to fully comply with the order and, at the same time, file an appeal and ask her to stay the injunction pending the appeal.
This decision is unfortunate news for us. However, we expected the fight for fair use rights to be a long one when we initiated it almost two years ago. We also expected to face great opposition and to take some hits along the way. Well, we are still here and are not going out of business. Starting next week, well sell ripper-free versions of DVDXCOPY as well as all our other popular titles including DVDXSHOW, DVDXMAKER and DVDXPOINT.
If youd like to read Judge Illstons decision or articles written about us, please go to our web site at http://www.321studios.com. If youd like to offer your support, please visit http://www.protectfairuse.org. Meanwhile, we are making every effort to continue to support you and your 321 products.
Please share this news with your friends and family. We can use all the support we can get to continue fighting for everyones fair use rights in todays digital world.
Thank you for your ongoing support,
The 321 Studios Team.
Dan Gillmor in today's column talks about issues of credibility with this kind of speech and the effects it has on our discourse in blogs and more generally on the web, as we evaluate what people say for trust and authenticity (and bIPlog is mentioned). Anonymous speech is very important, because people who would otherwise not comment out of fear of job or other repercussions, can because they are able to do so anonymously.
But there have been instances here and elsewhere, where people have intentionally hidden their identities, commenting on things across this blog and others, as they pretend to be people different than who they are, to gain credibility with other readers and commenters. That kind of speech is problematic, because it is intentionally dishonest. On the back end of the blogs, the owner can see that it's probably the same person, but on the front end, readers are fooled into thinking that, for example, there are several different commenters when there is actually one.
It's a difficult issue, because we want to leave open the possibility that people who are legitimately fearful can speak, but we also want to be clear with those we converse with on this blog that anonymous comments are actually anonymous and therefore must be scrutinized differently than those from people who post their real names. Being willing to stand up and state who you are, let others scrutinize your biases and background, and say what you think should be encouraged because it makes our discourse stronger, better, and more reliable and useful, while at the same time allowing anonymous speech. Telling the difference is key, and we have to work on better tools and communication to do this on the web.