October 30, 2003
Music Biz, Round 2

See David Pogue/NYTimes on Paying the Piper, Round 2: The Repertory Grows about the last year of music industry attempts to sell online, and efforts going forward. Same issues as always: price, convenience in user interface as well as with the product once you buy it (read: DRM restrictions) and selection.

Oh, and catch Ed Felten's look at a Washington Post article that talks about SunnComm and a copy-protected Anthony Hamilton CD which an Amazon reviewer noted had annoying DRM, and the reporter had trouble accurately describing:

    And how can the reporter let pass the statement by Jacobs implying that only "determined hackers" would be able to thwart the technology? We're talking about pressing the shift key, which is hardly beyond the capabilities of casual users.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:31 AM | Permalink
October 29, 2003
445 Downloads of Diebold Memos at UCB

Logs for downloads the past 48 hours (as of 1:10pm today) since the Diebold memos have been at UC Berkeley:

    @info:/logs/ -> grep "lists\.tgz" access_log | grep 29\/Oct | wc 445 4450 45669

See More below for the top level domains....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:56 PM | Permalink
Online Music Biz Still Shaky

Neil Strauss/NYTimes: Online Music Business, Neither Quick Nor Sure..
In the last month the music-downloading landscape online has shifted once more with five major events, not all of them good.

    ¶Apple Computer made its iTunes player and music store available to PC users.
    ¶A legal version of Napster emerged. [today, in fact.]
    ¶A new download store called Audio Lunchbox announced that it would open on Halloween.
    ¶Musicmatch added an online store to its music player.
    ¶EMusic added restrictive rules to its music subscription service.
    In a striking lack of originality, every new service above is in some way a designer imposter of iTunes, which sells songs for 99 cents each and albums for $9.99.

He also talks about Rhapsody, although I have to say that since my last post on that service ($9.95, all you can eat of what they offer), I've become less enamored. The selection is limited. But it's still a nice interface and they do have a lot of stuff.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
/. Comments

on this, here:

    Yea, that's right, go on kazaa and type in Diebold and you'll find the mail....on over a hundred different hosts with quick speedy downloads to par!
    Same's true for all the p2p apps, even the waste network I'm on! Sorry Diebold, I'm not gonna stop hosting your memo's until your entire goddamn corperation is taken down and the lie is revealed.

Diebold, meet Metcalf.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 28, 2003
Cease and Desist Me, Babe

Why War? has a list of the additional university sites with the Diebold memos posted. UCBerkeley's own Parker Thompson and Joe Hall have joined with the other mirrors, and I'm linking to them. Under Swarthmore's policy, just linking is grounds for cutting off network access. Course, I'm not going as far as James Grimmelmann at Yale, who links to linkers linking to linkers linking to linkers. Or Derek Slater at Harvard, who's just linking everywhere, writing letters and mirroring.

How many more links do you need, before you get the picture, Diebold? Voting is too important to have you hide the goods. Cause frankly, we can link you under the table.

Is It Real?
Although Ernie Miller has noted that in the AP article, Diebold's CEO Jacobsen has said, "We're cautioning anyone from drawing wrong or incomplete conclusions about any of those documents or files purporting to be authentic." If they are not authentic, the DMCA doesn't apply in this case.

The Prof Speaks on Linking Policies at Swarthmore, and More
Timothy Burke of Swarthmore's History Department says:

    If Swarthmore could do one thing differently, it would be to move to a DMCA interpretation that assumes liability only over content hosted directly on the site. At the moment, the college's IT administrators are using an interpretation that encompasses direct links to copyright-violating content as well as directly hosted content. I think that's a mistaken (if common) interpretation of the requirements of the law, and so do a lot of other scholars and observers. But even then, I'd rather we make that change in policy in a considered way, with a full awareness of what we're doing.

This after he criticized Ernie Miller and Siva Vaidhyanathan for blindly repeating what they find at the Why War? site, when in fact, Siva pointed to Ernie, who has been doing direct reporting after calling Swarthmore's IT department and various people at the Why War? site. None-the-less, Burke makes a good point about the point: we're here to point out how ridiculous the DMCA interpretations are about linking, as well as why companies that provide anything to do with voting should be totally transparent. And so the protest needs to be directed, responsible and thoughtful.

C&D's For Everyone
Why War? also reports that Amherst and MIT have received cease-desist letters in addition to Swarthmore.

Steven Levy/MSNBC suggest that the politicians start listening to the geeks on this one. And Seth Finkelstein suggests the Administration listen to this. And Tom Tomorrow does Diebold.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
Copyright Office Releases DMCA Exemption Hearing Ruling

Here. Looks like they are allowing the circumvention of obsolete computer software and games, eBooks for disability purposes, and a little bit for censorware (see Seth Finkelstein's post on his win! and Ed Felten's explanation on this) and damaged dongles. The rest, for commentary and fair use with DVDs, Cds, etc. and for information security research were not accepted.


    -16- Proposed class: Public domain works or works distributed without restriction.

    Several comments sought an exemption for works that are either public domain, open source or "open access," but to which access controls are applied. The commenters addressing open source and open access works provided absolutely no information in support of their requests. Aside from a proposal relating to public domain material on DVDs, there was a paucity of information relating to other public domain works. These commenters have overlooked that if a work that is entirely in the public domain is protected by an access control measure, the prohibition on circumvention will not be applicable. Therefore, no exemption is needed.
    In the DVD context, a proponent provided a series of lists of audiovisual works that it contended are in the public domain, some of which it alleged are distributed bundled with copyrighted material. However, opponents of the proposed exception indicated that many if not all the works named by the proponent are available in unencrypted (VHS) format, are not bundled with copyrighted material, are themselves still subject to copyright protection, or are not encrypted by the Content Scrambling System ("CSS") or otherwise subject to an access control, effectively rebutting the proponent's showing.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:30 PM | Permalink
BF: Derek Slater Makes a Good Point
    It occurred to me that the FCC's ownership rule making also provides a significant argument against the flag. Chairman Powell repeatedly asserted that over the air televsion is merely one small part in a large, competitive media market. It has to compete with print, radio, and the Internet. Well, if it's such an insignificant industry, then why should it get to determine policies for the entire tech industry? I'm not necessarily saying that I agree with the ownership rule changes; rather, I'm saying that the FCC has already stated that broadcast TV shouldn't be treated specially.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:48 AM | Permalink
Broadcast Flag: The Public Is Being Heard by the FCC

Cards and letters appear to be working, according to a John Borland/CNet article (thanks to Ernie Miller for the link):

    Washington sources said the resulting barrage of consumer lobbying has been heard at the FCC, and has helped influence commissioners' deliberations.

So, keep sending in the notes! Here are the links to EFF and Digital Consumer.org's templates... write something of your own and email it in! My note to the FCC is in the "more" section below. Feel free to copy or riff on it; it's no rights reserved as usual!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:10 AM | Permalink
October 27, 2003
Cable TV Music Distribution System at MIT

John Schwartz/NYTimes report that With Cable TV at M.I.T., Who Needs Napster? Josh Mandel and Keith Winstein have created a new way to share music. On NPR early this morning, they interviewed a student who said that the system didn't have that much music, but still, it's innovative. It has to be, the get around all the crazy aspects of the copyright regime. The Libraries Access to Music Project was funded by a grant from Microsoft and allows students to listen to analog versions of 3,500 CD's worth of music, in 80 minute blocks on a single channel, which a student will then program. Apparently, the quality is better than FM radio, but not as good as CDs.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:01 AM | Permalink
The Memex Fantasy

Gary Wolf/Wired has this on Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive, and Amazon's new search service: The fondest dream of the information age is to create an archive of all knowledge.

Though you should note, there has been some push back from the Author's Guild regarding Amazon.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:13 AM | Permalink
Computers, Freedom and Privacy Submission Deadline Friday

The deadline for submitting proposals for the 14th Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy is next Friday, October 31, 2003. The Conference runs from April 20-23 in Berkeley, CA.

I encourage you to submit proposals -- speaker suggestions, panels, workshops etc. The Call for Proposals is here. The online Submission page is here.

Disclosure: I'm on the program committee.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:09 AM | Permalink
Broadcast Flag: Critical Coverage

Kim Zetter/Wired: A Case of Piracy Overkill.
Steven Labaton/NYTimes: Critics Press Case on TV Piracy Rules.
Farhad Manjoo/Salon: Hollywood to the computer industry: We don't need no stinking Napsters!

    The MPAA is counting on your apathy. It's precisely because the flag seems, on the surface, so innocuous that the studios are having an easy time pushing it to regulators in Washington. And the regulators are biting: According to close observers of the process, the Federal Communications Commission will soon adopt a rule requiring all technologies capable of receiving digital TV signals -- everything from HDTV sets to DVD players to general-purpose PCs -- to recognize and protect flagged TV shows.
    If adopted, such a rule is sure to cause a great deal of hand-wringing in the PC industry, which is, increasingly, counting on the convergence between entertainment and computing to push sales. The last thing hardware manufacturers want is for Hollywood to be able to legislate how computers are put together. According to people familiar with the rule the FCC is pondering, the broadcast flag would force all computer companies to make a stark choice: Either add digital television capabilities to their machines and then, as some critics of Hollywood say, "weld the hood shut," making sure that everything else in the PC -- the DVD recorder, the hard drive -- is sealed with copy-protection, or stay away from HDTV altogether, sacrificing sales.

The MPAA Q&A on the BF.

Update: see Ed Felten's post on BF Confusion in the NY Times article above.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:33 AM | Permalink
October 25, 2003
Billy Tauzin is Taking Over for Jack Valenti

The first time I saw Jack Valenti was when I was in junior high; I was in Washington, DC at some rarefied event, full of powerful, smooth, very rich people. The people you rarely see in the media because they are so removed from the hoi polloi they are sort of ephemeral in their presence compared to the rest. As well, Senators and top Congressmen, a couple of cabinet members were floating around. Valenti was very distinctive; he arrived just after Warren Beatty. I think it was an event at the State Department on the top floor. Some annual thing for the party's biggest contributors. Sponsored by some wine trade association, so of course the food and wine were endless, glamorous and ethereal (yes, I did drink lots of champagne, over those several hours).

The venue, a very large room, with a balcony along the entire length, which as I remember seemed hundreds of feet long, was sumptuous, dark red, maybe gold leaf around the giant mirrors and on the ceiling, one single crimson and gold carpet that went on and on under antiques, flowers in urns 20 feet high, the lights of Washington were twinkling through the wide-open floor to ceiling doors. In the soft dappled lighting were dark areas where low conversation and a few careful words could be discretely exchanged.

Valenti, still today, looks exactly the same even though it's been 20 years. Now that I know he's 82, it's hard to imagine he was maybe 62 then, because he seemed 80 in a way, and yet sort of ageless. I kept watching him, after asking who he was, because he seemed to know everyone there, which was amazing in my junior high mind, because there probably were 1000 people to know. His cheeks were crinkled just as they are now, with that big shock of wild hair, and he just slipped from person to person, shaking hands and planting a few words with each. Much more interesting than Beatty, who has star power but not real power in the way he holds himself. Valenti was the opposite. He was better than anyone in that room, which was pretty much the Olympics of palm pressing and networking. At the time, I did not really understand what he did, but I could see he was very very good at it, whatever it was.

Anyway, Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin has apparently accepted the job to head the MPAA. I've only seen him on the House floor, have no idea if he can do what Valenti does, though I'm sure he's well connected. Guess it's time to go rent that Martha Stewart/Billy Tauzin bbq'd shrimp episode to rate his schooze factor. It's possible the requirements and people to know have changed for the top post at the MPAA. But I suspect they wanted the most well connected person they could find, to execute their agenda which seems to skirt public involvement in favor of courting a few powerful folks effectively, quietly, until it's too late for the public to do anything about the policies made that so unfairly tilt the copyright regime in favor of incumbent copyright holders, to the detriment of the public domain and the kind of innovation that leads to new jobs, industries and redistributions of power and wealth across existing industries, as we move deeper into an information economy.

Update 10/27/03: Bernard Weinraub/NYTimes on the idea of Valenti leaving the MPAA.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:48 PM | Permalink
Heat Wave: BFIV

That really has nothing to do with this post, but we seem to be having one. It feels like it's 85 degrees F outside, there's a hot wind blowing, and the smell of smoke and burned leaves drifts down from the hills, the kind of air we get before the hills ignite or the ground slips (that second one is a myth, but people here always say it, because we had a big quake in one of these spells).

BFIV is just the next post on this topic: David Ho/AP are reporting that the FCC is on the verge (I'd love to say of a melt down but no) of voting for the Broadcast Flag.

Remember Ed Black was on the BF Panel last spring at the DRM conference, where he cautioned consumer groups to get involved in the standards bodies or risk losing the fight to a few companies who might define a standard with a competitive disadvantage for other companies, where consumers then also lose out on the most competitive marketplace possible.

    "This is the first step that leads to trash dumps full of obsolete technology," said Chris Murray, an attorney for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. He said the FCC is working on "a solution that isn't going to work, with technology we haven't yet seen, to a problem we don't yet have."

Also, from Ed Felten's BF comments submitted last spring to the FCC in response to the MPAA's comments on the necessity for the BF:

    As a technical matter, these [MPAA] claims are simply incorrect -- a significant investment of time, effort, and expense is required to capture and redistribute DTV signals in this [over the internet] manner. I call the Commission's attention to these errors because the erroneous assertions underlie MPAA's entire argument in favor of regulatory action by the Commission.

Note in the earlier Piracy Meter post, Informa Media states that they don't believe movie piracy will be pervasive in the US until 2020. It's still worth contacting the FCC, and easy, using either Digital Consumer or EFF's email template. Take a minute, and write a couple of your own words into the template.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 24, 2003
Swarthmore Cracks Down on Students and Free Speech

Ernie Miller has been valiantly documenting and following this case, where Swarthmore College is going after students who link their websites to leaked Diebold memos (on the Why War? site) about the problematic security in their voting systems. Frank Field: Diebold has been responding with notice and takedown notices on a site-by-site basis, leading to an extended game of "whack-a-mole" that Swarthmore is now intervening in by taking away web access to any student linking to the site.

Ed Felten and Donna Wentworth also comment on this case.

Update: Seth Finkelstein comments too. And though I didn't explain the reason Ernie's efforts were valiant, I probably should have. If you read his posts, he managed to track down various Swarthmore students, as well as several calls to get to the IT department guys responsible for this, to do a little citizen reporting. Good blogging too!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:16 AM | Permalink
EFF's RIAA Subpoena Database: Aggregate Data (Updated)

Wendy Seltzer sends the latest from EFF:

    There are now 1633 subpoenas in EFF's RIAA subpoena database, all from the D.C. District Court through October 1. The RIAA has filed at least 200 more through Oct. 21, for which the court has entered captions but not yet posted subpoena documents. We are also looking to begin searching other district courts, as we know there have been some subpoenas filed outside DC.

ISPs (and other entities served, with some alternate names collapsed):
539 Comcast Cable Communications, Inc.
299 SBC Internet Communications, Inc.
164 Time Warner Cable
250 Verizon Internet Services, Inc., GTE.Net LLC (d/b/a Verizon Internet Solutions), Verizon Avenue Corporation, Verizon Media Ventures, Inc.
99 Charter Communications, Inc.
68 Cox Communications, Inc.
67 Adelphia Communications Corporation
37 RCN Corporation
13 EarthLink, Inc.
9 CenturyTel Internet Services, LLC
8 Mediacom Communications Corporation
8 Grande Communications
8 BellSouth.net, Inc.
8 America Online, Inc.
7 Earthlink, Inc.
6 New York University
6 InterQuest Communications
4 Loyola Marymount University
4 Bentley College Academic Technology Center
3 Qwest Communications, Inc.
3 Insight Midwest, L.P.
3 Boston College
2 Suntech Systems, Inc.
2 Sprint
2 San Bruno Municipal Cable
2 Northeastern University
2 CSC Holdings, Inc.
1 WideOpenWest Holdings, LLC
1 University of Southern Californiay
1 Speakeasy, Inc.
1 Seren Innovations
1 Qwest Communications Corporation
1 Pacific Bell lnternet
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1 Loyola University Chicago
1 Illinois Institute of Technology
1 Greenville Electric Utility System (GEUS)
1 DePaul University
1 Columbia University
1 Choice One Communications lnc
1 Boston University
1 BlueMarble Telecom, LLC
1 AT&T Worldnet Service
1 Armstrong Cable Services
1 America Online
1 Altrio Communications, Inc.

Filesharing Services
1492 KaZaA
43 iMesh
32 Gnutella (Bearshare)
26 Grokster
14 Gnutella (Limewire)
12 MP2P (Blubster & Piolet)
6 Gnutella
3 Gnutella (Shareaza)

University recipients
6 New York University
4 Loyola Marymount University
4 Bentley College Academic Technology Center
3 Boston College
2 Northeastern University
1 University of Southern California Doheny Memorial Library
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1 Loyola University Chicago
1 Illinois Institute of Technology
1 DePaul University
1 Columbia University

This is an update from the last post on the subpoenas.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:44 AM | Permalink
October 23, 2003
Broadcast Flag V: Godzilla v. The Thing


The "thing" was reported to be too scary to show in the ad, according to the movie producer, but it turned out to be a cute moth Godzilla was trying to kill. Kind of like the way the MPAA portrays fair use, doncha think?

So, Chris Murray, Legislative Counsel of Consumers Union, Mark Cooper, Dir. of Research at Consumer Federation of America, Mike Godwin, Senior Technology Counsel at Public Knowledge and Jonathan Rubin, Research Fellow at American Antitrust Institute have written a letter to the FCC on the BF. Their three major concerns:

    1. After the flag is adopted, will consumers have the same reasonable and customary uses with their digital television content that they enjoy in today's analog world? The proposal offered by the Motion Picture Association of America makes clear that the Flag scheme will tether user-recorded content in new ways. It will not allow consumers to watch that content on machines other than new, compliant devices (but it is unclear if it will permit recordings to be shared within a user's own "personal digital network"). Not only will current DVD players not be able to play the recording, but if someday more than one encryption technology is approved, recordings made with one technology probably will not play on players licensed to decrypt the other, absent an interoperability requirement from the FCC. Let's be clear: while the MPAA has offered assurances that users will have the same flexibility they currently enjoy, they have demonstrated no technology which shows this is indeed possible.
    2. If the Flag scheme does not effectively prohibit internet transmission of recorded programming doesn't it follow that the scheme may fail to prevent the problem at which it aims? For example, if users can play flag-protected content on any compliant device, it may be possible to transmit the encrypted data recorded on a DVD for a recipient to use on a remote compliant device. Or it may be possible to post a complete "compliant" DVD image on a website. Certainly, an individual could record on broadcast content from an analog output, and then simply distribute that content to another user over the internet. So much for defeating Internet copyright infringement.
    3. Because the Flag is ineffective without mending the "analog hole," then is it perhaps not worth its costs? Shouldn't the Commission consider the costs and benefits of closing the analog hole in the context of this proceeding rather than some future proceeding. As Chairman McCain noted in his letter to the Commission on Oct. 16, the Broadcast Flag is an incomplete, and therefore ineffective solution, absent a solution to the "analog hole." We agree that we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but lack of any analog-hole solution means that the broadcast flag scheme doesn't even qualify as "good." Nor can such a non-solution be worth the costs it would impose broadly on the consumer electronics and computer marketplaces.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:29 PM | Permalink
The Piracy Meter

Earlier, I mentioned the Piracy Meter, defined as a gage for rating movies. If I pirated movies (which I don't), I'd rate them as to what's worth clogging my dsl connection for 24-36 hours to get one.

Well, it looks as though in a backhanded way, Variety has decided the Piracy Meter is right on target. No, they didn't mention the Piracy Meter directly (but I'm sure if they knew about the Piracy Meter, they would have!). Only Ernie Miller did, suggesting a quality scale. But Variety did say that "Illegal downloading of films via the Internet may not be the financial catastrophe many fear, at least not for some time." In other words, they say that according to a new study, "Films on the Internet," the movie biz has been more in touch with their customers than the record industry (not hard to do, but still), offering movies at a reasonable price (often the same or less than cd's), and been awfully nice about getting them to the Internet (via Movielink or other distribution channels like NetFlix...) or just distributed generally. In addition, movies, even poor quality versions, take a very long time to download, even with a high speed connection.

And so therefore, piracy of movies shouldn't be much of a concern; rather,

    the "...Study, from U.K-based Informa Media, concludes that, Hollywood and other film copyright owners have far more to gain through legal streaming, online subscription, e-tailing of discs and other legit downloads than they stand to lose.... But the sector's main advantage so far is speed and infrastructure (or lack thereof). Online film piracy will only reach the problem level that the music industry is suffering when most homes have super high-speed fiber optic connections, and that's not likely to be pervasive before 2020".

Not to mention, the study says the movie industry lost an estimated $92 million to online piracy last year, compared with $3.5 billion from hard copy piracy. (This may have something to do with their announcement to rescind the Oscar screener ban, mentioned earlier.)

So you know what that means. The Piracy Meter will have persuasive value until possibly 2020, when the last AOL subscriber has finally dumped them (they don't call 'em 'almost online' for nothin'). I love a good scale. What's two thumbs up? You're just sticking your fingers in the air. But sacrifice for art, that's got meaning.

Starting off, as mentioned before, Kill Bill = 1 star and Lost in Translation = 5 stars. But just so you know where I stand, looking over at the DVD collection, I'd also spend 36 hours, or 5 stars, on Tokyo Drifter, The Apartment, Bullitt, The Wild Bunch, American Beauty, Swept Away (the original), Reservoir Dogs, A Woman Under the Influence, Days of Heaven and Carnival of Souls. Oh, and La Dolce Vita. That one's worth at least 48 hours of sacrificed bandwidth.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:17 AM | Permalink
October 22, 2003
Digital Rights Management Mapped Against Copyright Regimes & Fair Use

How DRM Based Content Delivery Systems Disrupt Expectations of Personal Use has just been published by John Han, Aaron Burnstein and Deirdre Mulligan (of the Samuelson clinic; disclosure: I'm a member too). Really interesting analysis that John will present at the DRM '03 conference next week.

They try to get at how closely right's expression languages reflect copyright law, and how people's expectations for different medias not always reflected in the DRM on that media, and how the media type may frustrate user's expectations for fair use. For example, people have only experienced DVD's with CSS as the DRM, so they don't expect to be able to say, send a DVD made for Region 1, to their relative as a gift, who lives in Region 2. On the other hand, with music, and CD's, people have grown accustomed to making a copy of a CD they buy, for the car, the computer, etc. They want that same functionality and ease with future DRM mechanisms, and are confused and upset by the loss of those fair use rights.

Also noted are how CD related DRM protections haven't flowed with people's expectations, while the CSS protection for DVD's has flowed with the grain of people's expectation, but then they map the use of the media with those protections visually against (the four broad, non-exclusive factors courts consider for) fair use for those medias for space and time shifting. They compared them to other media relationships and expected uses, and against what they thought of as the "indicators of personal use": device and format portability, experimenting and the extent of relationships between users and copyright holders. The results are disheartening.

DRM limitations include a distinct lack of portability. Also, people's expectations were very frustrated by the lack of ability to experiment with the media or services they looked at. An example of a comparison movie was a streaming movie, where every time the user wanted to stop the movie (for a bathroom break, a snack, phone call), they had to re-ask for the license, and so felt that this went against their privacy expectations. They didn't like being tracked this way. One thing the paper notes is how different the motivations are for copyright holders, who may want to monitor every copy, see how it used and track starts and stops, verses distributors, who just want to monitor the point of sale.

Also, they noted how DRM can stop some behaviors, especially fair use, can circumvent the warrenty or access processes, and can have legal ramifications for users under the DMCA, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and various state laws.

Their conclusions: users won't switch to medias with overly-excessive DRM; content pirates certainly won't switch, but expectations may change over times. Also, terms of service agreements should reflect the actual DRM terms so users can make informed choices. And, the biggie: DRM supplants people's expectations of fair use, and doesn't reflect realities of fair use, based on the specific restrictions they reviewed.

Good stuff. Give it a read.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:37 PM | Permalink
Broadcast Flag IV: The Mummy Returns

Sequel to I, II and III. (This title is a variation on Donna's recent post....)

The bolded sections of the CDT's findings below (in the last post) seem unrealistic, because I don't think the FCC will make the revisions CDT notes are necessary to make the BF more fair and reasonable. I do respect the CDT's even handed approach to this issue, but I am worried that the perception of this report held up by the copyright industry will be: "CDT thinks the BF is okay with a few tweaks." There are serious problems with the BF, and in the end, it's not a balanced technology, because all the benefits go to the copyright industry, with the public and other industries like consumer electronics heavily restricted, with no benefit in return. Remember, copyright is a monopoly given to a creator in exchange for fair use and other rights. Take those rights away, and there is not much of an exchange.

Later: Frank Field points to this "propaganda": FCC mulls digital 'flag' to sink TV pirates.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:17 AM | Permalink
October 21, 2003
Broadcast Flag III

Joe Hall posted a comment on this, but I wanted to put it up top. The CDT just released this report: Implications of The Broadcast Flag: A Public Interest Primer [pdf]:

The "broadcast flag" proposal -- a combination of technical standards and federal regulations designed to curtail unauthorized redistribution of digital television broadcasts -- has emerged in 2003 as a focal point in the digital copyright debate. The broadcast flag system is now the subject of a major rulemaking proceeding at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Observers expect pressure for protection of digital video content to mount as the
U.S. moves steadily towards the transition to digital television called for by 2006.


Major findings of this report include:

• Protecting copyright in the digital age is important for both consumers and content owners; failing to protect content can have major implications for the availability of high-quality programs on new digital media; and genuine fears have been raised about unauthorized redistribution of unprotected digital TV.
• Proposed broadcast flag regulations, currently before the FCC, create many
legitimate concerns for television viewers, Internet users, and industry groups. As drafted they may restrict reasonable uses of content by viewers, hinder innovation, and impose costs that are not worth the limited copy protection provided.
Revisions to the broadcast flag proposal could help address many of these concerns, primarily by creating more clearly objective and focused functional standards for the devices and uses that will be permitted by flag regulations, and by creating a more open and accountable process for certifying permitted technologies. (emphasis mine)
Even with those improvements, the flag proposal poses unresolved issues regarding technical regulation of computers and the Internet by the government, the impact of the flag itself on innovation and future consumer uses, and the definition of "fair use" and other copyright doctrines in the digital age. It also leaves other serious copy protection problems for television content unresolved. (emphasis mine)
• Whether the FCC adopts the broadcast flag approach or not, the combination of copyright enforcement, new economic models and digital delivery mechanisms, and consumer education hold out great promise to have a broad, long-term impact on copyright infringement online.

Also, Ed Felten analyses the BF. And Donna keeps up on the BF here, and here, noting Fred Von Lohmann's observation "...about digital rights management (DRM) that it's used by corporations to take away your fair-use rights--so that those rights can then be sold back to you."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 19, 2003
Broadcast Flag II

Paul Davidson/USA Today on the broadcast flag: "Our belief is that digital TV will be far more restrictive," says Joe Kraus of DigitalConsumer.org.

Also, I am feeling uncomfortable about my previous post on BF, where I said it might cost up to $750 to upgrade to digital. To get more specific, an HDTV would cost that much, but an HDTV receiver for your current TV would be $400, and digital tuners are around $200. My point was that on top of having the content industry dictate to the electronics' industry what they can make, now and in the future, and what consumers can do with content, like the way we record it for time shifting, there were no benefits for consumers, and in fact many other costs like the required upgrades and the eventual requirement that everyone move to cable reception. Remember the last panel discussion at the DRM conference last spring, where Fritz Attaway of the MPAA said:

HDTV receivers are going to have to be able to process protected content. And that's totally separate and apart from the Broadcast Flag issue. People are not going to invest in an HD receiver only to watch over-the-air broadcasting. They are going to want to watch cable, they are gonna want to watch satellite, gonna want to watch DVDs, they are gonna want to watch premium content that is protected. All the Broadcast Flag would do is to say that off air content has to be rooted through a protected interface that is going to be there anyway because it needs to be there to render all of this other content that will be protected and consumers will not be able to watch, unless they have a device that can handle this kind of content. So there is no additional cost. The protection has to be there anyway to receive the other kinds of content.

Big assumptions there. First of all, not everyone is going to buy an HDTV set naturally, but if pushed unnaturally, they may be forced to some digital alternative, because they have no choice. And these digital solutions are not cheap. As noted in the pricing information about, there is additional cost. Most people now do not have HDTV sets or digital tuners (20 million as of last April, 2003 had it). It means that the majority still have to go out and buy it. Secondly, not everyone buys premium content (20% of US households are over-the-air consumers). And thirdly, the BF will be there "anyway because it needs to be there to render all of this other content"? Huh? Why? It only has to be there if Attaway, et al, gets the FCC to force it. It doesn't have to be there to render content. Content doesn't have to be digital, some could be digital and some could remain over-the-air analog.

I think he is arguing as though this is a foregone conclusion when it's not.

And what's the trade off? What do consumers get in exchange for these burdens, and what does the electronics' industry get, for becoming subservient to the copyright industry?

The broadcast flag presents many problems, and no benefits for consumers and users. As Derek Slater said yesterday: Burn the Broadcast Flag! Email the FCC and your representatives! Use Digital Consumer's or EFF's links (and remember to write your own words. This really matters and your legislators and FCC reps will take it seriously if you show you care about this by putting things in your own words.)

BTW, this is OT, but speaking of dirty tricks by the movie industry, I went to see Kill Bill the night before last with some friends. We agreed it was stylistically captivating, and had some great humor. Very retropolitan. But where's the plot? Girl is mad at the people who tried to kill her, so she invokes Matrix Redux-like revenge on them? Where are the characters? How do we care about the Umatino, when we don't know how she knows Bill, the grotesquely altered Daryl, or the rest of the murdering crew or what gives with the baby? Why should we care? What's the hook? It's kind of insulting to have us pay for a movie, and presume that the plot and characters, the second half of act II and all of act III will come later, when we pay for the second movie. Geez, man, throw us a bone here. 1 Star on the piracy meter.

Lost in Translation was so much more satisfying. Cool to hang in Tokyo for a bit, in an fantasy movieland kind of way. Characters, glitzy atmosphere, slow but interesting plot. I'd give it a 5 star on the piracy meter.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 18, 2003
Free as In Freedom, Not Beer (or Music)

John Schwartz/NYTimes are reporting that the music industry has decided to warn the next 204 lawsuit targets:

Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, said "we want to go the extra mile and offer illegal file sharers an additional chance to work this out short of legal action." This new policy was announced at last month's Senate hearing. Senator Norm Coleman (MN) said he wished it hadn't taken hearings to bring this sort of consideration about. Now how about considering judicial review for all subpoena's for user information for those they intend to sue?

In the meantime, Epeus Epigone talks about Steve Jobs' comment about iTunes "editing tactics": At the iTunes Music launch, Jobs said something very wrong - that record labels should be the arbiters of taste - that they edit for our own good, and that unsigned bands need not apply.

The key point of digital media is that we can all edit, so I edited him: video file.

It's interesting, because we all know, time and again, that attempts to control or limit the network result in loss of business. And then you leave yourself wide open for disruption. Biz 101. It's not like the Internet offers huge barriers to entry for offering interesting music over a website. And considering Microsoft's Q&A (and other media offerings) on iTunes (I'm shocked to hear MS is down on iTunes - kinda snarky, even) after they've added Windows support, (link from Ernie Miller), Apple could remain more competitive by embracing the rip, mix, burn philosophy once again, allowing any music into iTunes, regardless of whether it was produced by an RIAA affiliate. What would it cost them? Very little. It seems anticompetitive as well. Is this the result of some exclusionary agreement between Apple and record companies in exchange for industry music? It would be interesting to find out if Steve's spin on "editing" out the smaller music is actually about appeasing the music industry. Hey Steve, innovation is cool and it leads to more cool stuff, like the Motorola C350, where you can mix your own dance tracks anywhere for Groov'n On The Move.

Ernie also points to an open source audio media player/ripper. Good stuff.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 16, 2003
Broadcast Flag Up Before the FCC by the End of the Month

Remember, if they force the broadcast flag on everyone, it will force digital TV, in order the make the flag effective, which means up to $750 per TV in upgrades or a whole new TV, and that means everyone has to get cable. No more over the air broadcast (but you -- the last 20% of American households that don't have it -- can pay up there too, if you haven't so far, by being forced to subscribe to cable). Oh, and just in case you're curious, there was a KTVU Ch2 story tonight on cable consumer costs that said Comcast has raised prices this year more than 6 times the rate of inflation (and this story was provided free, over the air! but later you'll have to pay for that too). And then, imagine the landscape with the latest FCC rules on media consolidation. Also, do you really want to pay so much more for HDTV, and actually get less functionality than you have now with your current TV?

So a very few media companies make all the content (check out Stephen Labaton/NYTimes on breadth (or lack of breadth) of media choice), own all the pipes, and then with the broadcast flag, will dictate to consumer electronics companies what devices they can make now to play/watch/use/record that content, and in the future (imagine the loss for innovation, because the content industry is dictating that, too with the broadcast flag). I'm thrilled. Are you? How about a reasonable balance between the content/copyright industry, and the rest of us? Remember, the monopopy we grant creators is in exchange for fair use rights like time shifting TV. This proposal only benefits the content industry; there is no trade off to benefit consumers.

EFF suggests you write, call or email your reps: here and Digital Consumer has this here (please think about how you feel and put it into your own words, because that is most effective in communicating to legislators). And Donna Wentworth, Frank Field, Dan Gillmor, Ernie Miller ("Any rule that mandates DRM is giving too much control to the entertainment industry.") and JD Lasica explain further what's wrong with the above scenario. Plus Frank links to a January article by Biz Week that talks about using tools like the Broadcast Flag to spy on users.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:58 PM | Permalink
October 15, 2003
Ernie Miller Does a New Blog

The Importance Of.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:27 PM | Permalink
October 14, 2003
Berkeley Library Planning RFID Tags For All Books

says Mathew Artz/Berkeley Daily Planet.

Berkeley librarians insist that embedding their books with a state-of-the-art monitoring device despised by privacy advocates will not grant Big Brother a glimpse at patron's reading material.

"We're not going to fight the Patriot Act this hard and then just give away information," said Berkeley Director of Library Services Jackie Griffin, who added that, after careful study, she planned to purchase Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) before next June.

But, UC Berkeley database researchers were skeptical, because they pointed out that it is the collective use of RFID that can be problematic. The more use, the more incentive for many to get readers to observe personal information. Of course, the Berkeley Public Library may be very responsible in their implementation, but if the RFID information is not encrypted, even if it's just a book title and author, if others read the tags as people walk by with the books, and then aggregate the information with other 3rd party personal information known about the person, there could be serious privacy concerns. In many ways, Berkeley is really a small town and the same folks walk by every day. As RFID is more widely adopted, readers might pick up several tags to collect a variety of information about one person. Imagine if a tag in your eye glasses, a tag in your book and a tag in your shoes gave aggregated information that meant it was pretty certainly you, pin pointing you at a particular place and time, that could then be aggregated with other address and birthday information about you that is publicly available.

It would change all our thoughts about being able to be anonymous on the street, read a book in private without the scrutiny of everyone around, and our possessions and consumer purchases too might be rated to tell whether we are a good target for advertising or some other message or information. Why is that a concern? Further segmenting people means that while some may only get targeted ads and information, and this might be good for getting information you want and spam/ads you don't, there may be others excluded from information that society uses to understand itself and make decisions. Differentiation in marketing, if it goes too far, might eventually lead to the exclusion of whole classes and types of people from information society uses to participate in certain kinds of interactions. It remains to be seen how this kind of exclusion could lead to the further amplification of classes in our society and culture.

Currently, the Berkeley Library uses UPC tags for each book, and offers self-checkout.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 13, 2003
Clay Shirky on File Sharing

File Sharing Goes Social

This month's essay concerns the way the RIAA is creating environmental pressures that alter the design of file sharing networks, and how the current attacks on Kazaa et al are moving file sharing into socially bounded cells. -clay

The basic idea is that we've gone from efficient, centralized systems like Napster, to less efficient, decentralized systems like KaZaa and Gnutella, to the next generation of networking tools similar to those used for secure corporate collaboration. The Darknet perhaps? This would be the Darknet that is about private restricted file sharing networks where there is a reduced amount of content, but users are friends and family who know each other and share and recommend within that closed network, where social norms dictate the sharing protocols.

Interesting to note though is the idea that the most popular songs exist on the most harddrives, while more obscure (and interesting) works are hard to find. Small private networks will probably make this more true. So maybe a few small networks will specialize, and people may have a couple of different private networks that reflect different tastes and genres, but it may be that most networks have only the most popular stuff. The question is, will the RIAA go after these small networks? Will we have infiltrators at parties trying to get an invitation into our Waste networks? Do we become like East Berlin in the 80's, where everyone suspected everyone else as being a spy? Husbands and wives, each working for different operatives and never telling each other, maybe because one specializes in early country, and the other in hip-hop? Oh my!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:27 AM | Permalink
October 12, 2003
Copyright Issues for Bloggers

... by Eugene Volokh as quoted by EdCone.com.

Q: Does the First Amendment cover weblogs?

Eugene Volokh: Absolutely, just like it covers newspapers, magazines, and the like.

Q. What protections afforded to print and TV journalists might not apply to bloggers?

Volokh: Hard to tell for sure. There are some statutes and state constitutional provisions that provide journalists *more* protection than is required by the First Amendment, and some of these statutes are by their terms limited to certain media. The hard question is whether these terms should be read as covering blogging and the Web generally, which didn't exist when many of the provisions were written. A lot depends on the particular terms of the statutes, and, when the statutes are vague, on the views of the judges. I discuss some examples -- especially retraction statutes that can decrease the liability for libel, reporter's privilege statutes, and press credentials -- here: http://techcentralstation.com/120502B.html.

Q: What other implications under press and copyright laws do weblogs raise?

Volokh: By and large, the same ones that other media -- books, newspapers, magazines, and so on -- raise. Generally speaking, the issue under most such laws is the message, not the medium. If you can say something in a newspaper, you can say it in a blog. If it violates the law in a newspaper (for instance, if it's libelous, a copyright infringement, false advertising, a threat, and so on), then it violates the law in a blog, too. There are some exceptions, but this is the general rule.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
The Heavenly Jukebox Cont'd

Tonight I went to a dinner party at some friend's house, and in between the cold dry sake and an obscene amount of yellow tail hamachi, there was more music than we knew what to do with. These are friends that until six months ago, had been sampling all sorts of free stuff on P2P networks. Not all of it was good or complete, but they buy a lot of CD's and wanted to try stuff out first, and they wanted the convenience of mixing up thousands of songs for days of play, or a few seconds as the case may be.

Anyway, tonight, we played around with Rhapsody which was totally great and lots of fun. And my friends are proving my point that if you make it easy, cool, give decent information about the music and make it cheap, people will abandon the free stuff for something much more professional. Sorting by artist, title, genre, album, play lists we made up, we streamed Thievery Corp, Gotan and Ladytron through the first course, and then went from cool jazz, to Chopin and Mozart for the second, and then we veered into Bah-bra and Barry Gibb, the GoGo's (who can resist skidmarks on my heart!), Supertramp, Artie Shaw, Radiohead, Elton John, Frank, Ben Folds Five (Kate!), Jon Cutler, the Replacements, for about three hours of dancing, everybody was in on it, clicking and sampling. There is also stuff you can't search for or directly stream, like the Beatles, on their "radio stations."

So one of them nailed it, when we turned it off to go out for dessert: "..so the question for America today is how will America get its music? I mean how will you get your ya-yas? You know, like go the good stuff to rock out to?" Okay, he was kinda baked, so it's overstated, but you get the point. He's not an IP junkie, he is a former musician and now at a BIG corporation, but he wants the stuff easily and he wants to pay something reasonable. So this is his question. And for him, $9.95 for Rhasody's content is almost there, so although he said they have a lot of cool old stuff, there's not as much new, he thinks it could be a lot better. But he was excited to try out new music they do have to see about buying it, or downloading, and he'd hooked it up wirelessly to all the other rooms from his main computer (every room has its own remote for that set of speakers, so it works well...).

So Rhapsody is almost there.

Now, if we could only make playlists and share them with others across our network within Rhapsody, mix things and send them to people, make our heavenly jukebox an expression of ourselves for others....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)
October 11, 2003
Lawmeme Post Title Altered in Ironic Situation

Ernie Miller of Lawmeme writes that he did a post there on the FCC decision about Bono's use of the word "fucking" on TV. The title contained "fucking" in it, and seems as though it was intended to push the boundaries of media expression (in an ironic and humorous way) because the FCC has with its decision. So it is with further irony that Lawmeme, which is a blog about the first amendment and free expression, technology, IP and the internet, and utilizes a medium that is less formal, quicker, irreverent and more blunt than say, law reviews that are more formal and less confrontational, would have some members of the group blog objecting to the ironic use of the word "fucking" in the title.

Ernie writes: I recently did a short little story on the FCC decision that Bono's use of the word "fucking" on TV was not indecent (via BuzzMachine). The title of my post was "A Fucking Interesting Decision from the FCC". Ironically, my use of the term "Fucking" in the title of the post was deemed unprofessional. The EIC of LawMeme demanded that I either change the title to "FCC Rules on Use of 'Fucking'" or delete the post. Without noting any of the irony, another editor of LawMeme instead changed the title to: Bono Says "Fucking" on TV; FCC says "Ok".

I can understand some people being offended by the post, but that is the point. The FCC doesn't think this use of "fucking" fits their definition of indecent, because the word was not used by Bono in a sexual context, and the same goes for Ernie's title. The idea for Ernie was to make this clear using that title, and with all due respect, it seems that some of the folks at Lawmeme missed that point.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 10, 2003
bIPlog started... About The Time Eldred Was at the SupCt

The bIPlog has a funny start date, because we came out of a class that started in late August, 2002, but the site didn't go live until November 15, 2002. However, we did entries starting in September internally, but didn't make all of them live in November. My first published entry was ago year today. So I'm noting it's been about a year.

Blogging, and making conversations with others writing in the same topic space, iterating knowledge and developing relationships, have changed everything academically and professionally for me, introducing me to outstanding people, getting to know them first by their writing, then in person. Every time I meet one of these bloggers, I delighted by who they are live. The bIPlog is an outlet for my thoughts on IP, security, privacy, media and distribution ("bip-log" is so much more fun to say than bIPSPMDlog, don't you think?).

The bIPlog was the basis for a paper Ethan Eismann and I did on best practices in blogging, using the bIPlog community to think about these issues. It was presented at the BlogTalk conference in Vienna in May. A couple of panels were prompted by the start and finishing of the class, as was some interesting press. And as a result of bIPlog, more of my academic work looks into blogging, traditional and participatory journalism, P2P information networks and social networks, for iterating knowledge and trusting information, both in terms of building systems and writing about them. And of course, IP, security and privacy are an ongoing study leading to papers, articles and research. It's also been fun getting slash-dotted and writing stories with interesting expressionistic linking.

Regarding Eldred, there has been a lot of talk on the bIPlog about it, since last year. Eldred was a case that really got me thinking beyond class discussions about copyright and IP, content and the public domain, to much deeper issues. So while the case was decided unfavorably for the public domain, I do appreciate the discussions it's prompted, here and out in the media with the public. Hopefully as a result of these discussions, people understand more about how the information economy, copyright and the public domain intermingle. I also hope there is more thought about the state of copyright generally, the balance between the monopoly we bestow on creators in exchange for certain use rights, not to mention a reasonable sunset ending each monopoly granted, the distribution of media and content, how the media pipe owners (both distribution as well as internet service providers) are often also the biggest copyright content owners, how copyright holders use private methods to invoke bad public policy with DRM, and why these things matter for public discourse, the sharing of ideas, innovation, creativity and entertainment. I am offended by the idea that people are prevented from legitimate personal and commercial expression because of the chilling effects of the DMCA, DRM and overly-broad copyright, security and privacy policy. We will kill vibrancy, culture and our future economic health if our policies favoring incumbents in this area continues as it has in the digital era.

bIPlog and the folks I've met and worked with through the blog have been transformative for me (plus I like them all so much!), and I hope our blogging discussions will help us change these policies for a more fair balance between intellectual property owners and the public. I can't thank enough Scot Hacker (master of the JSchool blogging universe), Paul Grabowicz and John Battelle, for having the class, the other students, and my fellow bloggers who teach me so much every day.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
SunnComm Decides Not to Interfere With Speech

Donna points to this:
SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs to the Daily Princetonian: "I don't want to be the guy that creates any kind of chilling effect on research. I just thought about it and decided it was more important not to be one of those people. The harm's been done...if I can't accomplish anything [with a lawsuit] I don't want to leave a wake.

I don't want to be the people my parents warned me to stay away from. It's 10 million bucks, but maybe I can make it back, and maybe [Halderman] can learn a little bit more about our technology so as not to call it brain dead."

The good Professor Felten: "SunnComm is to be commended for deciding not to interfere with Alex's right to speak. I hope SunnComm decides to join the debate now. If SunnComm wants to add anything, or to challenge anything that Alex said in his paper, I for one would like to hear from them."

UPDATE 101503: The NYTimes has somethingon this. But the SunnComm whiplash is tough to take.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 09, 2003
Shift Key Again

Earlier today I mentioned Alex Halderman and his paper (pdf) on the CD protection scheme developed by SunnComm, which can be cracked! yes cracked, by holding down the shift key while putting the disk into your computer. Well, Donna writes that SunnComm is taking legal action against Halderman because he has based his paper on "erroneous assumptions" and because he has violated the DMCA.

"No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property, said SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs. "SunnComm is taking a stand here because we believe that those who own property, whether physical or digital, have the ultimate authority over how their property is used."

Really? How about the copyright balance, where things like fair use (and the right of first sale) are involved? We are talking about a copy protection that will be sold on lawfully purchased CDs, that users might want to play on their computer CD players. Is it fair use to space shift? While this question has not yet been definitely answered by legislatures and courts, a private company is effectively answering that for us.

More From Donna/Copyfight:
Later: Fred von Lohmann: "In America today, scientists shouldn't have to fear legal action for publishing the truth. Based on the apparent weakness of its technology, perhaps SunnComm should be hiring more Princeton computer scientists, instead of threatening to sue them."

Later #2: Ernie Miller @ LawMeme: "I do not know what 'device' Halderman could possibly have been trafficking in, unless they plan to go after him solely under section 1201(a) for actually circumventing such a device (a first as far as I know)."

Later #3: Dan Gillmor: "Plainly, [SunnComm's] aim is to silence any debate over the apparent lameness of its technology. This shouldn't be allowed to stand. I hope the EFF and other organizations will raise a defense fund; I'll contribute."

I decided to call SunnComm directly and complain about their abuse of the First Amendment and academic research: 602-267-7500. While they have the DMCA on their side, does not mean is it right for them to stifle academic freedom or the right to publish. The law is wrong here, as are SunnComm's actions. Where does this leave us if research is squashed, and information such as this just ends up being passed around, from user to user, with no research or writing done on these DRM systems. Where does that leave cryptography research? I am not advocating the mass breaking of laws, as researchers need to be sensitive and professional in their work, but there is something very wrong with the DMCA when this kind of thing happens.

/. discusses. And Alex gets interviewed.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Oak Park School District Sued Over WiFi

ChicagoBusiness.com and the Register are reporting that parents at the Oak Park School District in Chicago are suing to stop the use of WiFi in the schools because they fear the health risks of the Fi. WiFi Networking News cites the suit (pdf) which "alleges that Oak Park Elementary School District 97 has "ignored the substantial body of evidence that high frequency electro-magnetic radiation poses substantial and serious health risks, particularly to growing children". WiFi Networking News says the suit, "cites 30 studies (citations not included in this document, unfortunately) that connect EMR at high frequencies and signal strengths comparable to WLANs to health problems."

This is something I've just been researching for another project (WiFi distance, not the radiation risks) and since anything can block the signals easily, and the signals don't go far, and they are not broadcast right next to your body as cell phones are, I wonder how reasonable this is in terms of health risks. Certainly, there must be more danger from cell phone use considering the promixity of use to our bodies. Cell phones work at 1.8ghz, cordless phones are most often at about the same frequency at 2.8ghz, and microwaves at 2ghz are very close to the WiFi frequency. In any event, it will be interesting to see what happens with the case, and what those 30 citations are, to see whether this is a problem. However, if it is, you can extrapolate that since everything electronic we use emits some wave, it may be that one thing isn't a problem, alone, but that all electronica aggregated together used day-after-day, and running around us all day, might create a health problem.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
DRM: Fade Does Just That To Games, But SunnComm Loses with the Shift Key

New Scientist has a piece on Fade, a new protection system for games developed by Codemasters. Fade forces the copy of a game to slowly deteriorate, so that while the game is in play, the player slowly loses control over character, or weapons or cars, whatever the player is doing in the game. The idea is that pirated copies allow users to play for a while, but once the person is "addicted," the game stops working, forcing the person to go out and buy or rent the game lawfully.

The idea intrigues Alistair Kelman, an independent lawyer who specializes in copyright: "Fade is entirely in keeping with the spirit and great traditions of copyright." He points out that books tend to deteriorate with use and this prevents the secondhand market from competing with the market for new books. Why not the same for software?

The difference is that the book is still readable, even in used form, all the way to the end. If Fade is used just to affect pirated copies of games (they plan to release a DVD version next year), fine, but if it begins to be used on lawfully purchased games, DVD's, music, whatever, I think people will not like it. DRM often conflicts with people's ideas of what they can do with their purchases. Example, restrictive DRM that does not allow them to make fair use of the work has infuriated people, causing lots of frustration, bad press and in some cases, damage to PC's (from some CD protection devices sold recently).

On the other hand, if Fade works like SunnComm's CD copy-protection technology, which can be disabled by holding down the shift key, as reported earlier this week by Alex Halderman (a student of Ed Felten's), it may not be worth anything.

Hiawatha Bray/Boston Globe has SunnComm's response: ''There's nothing in his report that's surprising,'' said SunnComm president Bill Whitmore. ''There's nothing in the report that I'm concerned about.'' Whitmore said his company's system is simply supposed to give honest music lovers a legal way to make copies for personal use, not to stop large-scale piracy.

As Ed Felten notes, if the goal is to do as Whitmore says, all that's needed is to give people ordinary, unmodified CD's. The same may be true for Fade games, because the really big pirates that put a dent in the biz, will figure out a way around it. They are pirating the games after all, so anti-circumvention laws don't really have much effect if they can get around the software protection scheme. And then all you succeed in doing is frustrating the less technically adept, regular paying customers.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:25 AM | Permalink
October 07, 2003

Just a short note, as I have a midterm shortly. So I voted yesterday at the Registrar's office. People were piling in. They were using the Diebold system, which is I think a first for Alameda county. The Registrar swore they weren't networked, nor is the server that aggregates the votes. However, if a vote process gets messed up, they don't print out people's choices, either at the moment you submit the vote onscreen, or later, when tallying up everything. Considering the issues with Diebold, and other voting systems, I think this is a problem. Also, Diebold has not been open about their system code and architecture, and this needs to be a requirement for any system we approve for computerized voting. See Frank's round-up of links on these issues.

1. Go vote today at the polls if you haven't voted over the last month at the Registrar or absentee. Look up your polling place here.

2. Write/call the state elections commission to express your concerns, if you have them, over the computerized voting procedures and Diebold. Ask them to require open code review, and the printing of a copy of all votes taken.

Also, check out this market analysis of the election. (thanks, Gawker.)
Brown: Governor Gray Davis out (as of Oct 6: top line)
Blue: Yes on recall (second from top)
Black: No on recall (third from top)
Purple: Governor Gray Davis in (fourth from top)
Red: Recall cancelled (bottom)


Also, see this on predicting the election.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 06, 2003
Trying to Sell CD's by Adding Extras

So the record companies are finally going with the flow, trying out some new tactics, Trying to Sell CD's by Adding Extras according to Chris Nelson/NYTimes.

Bundling an album with a raft of value-added extras - while charging just a dollar more than the standard price for a CD - may sound like a costly move for P.O.D.'s label, Atlantic Records, part of AOL Time Warner. But it is a testament to just how desperate music companies are to stoke consumer interest and reverse a three-year sales slump by pulling fans away from making free downloads of music from Internet file-trading sites.

While the P.O.D. album, scheduled for release Nov. 4, is unusual in the amount of extra material it will carry, it is just one album in a flood of new CD's promising extras. Recent discs from artists representing a broad cross section of genres - from R.& B. diva Mary J. Blige to singer-songwriter Elvis Costello to punk band Pennywise - have come with extra material.

The newfound zeal to include extras on music CD's might just be working. On the latest weekly Billboard 200 album chart, the top six spots are held by albums making their first appearance on the chart. All of those artists - OutKast, Dave Matthews, Limp Bizkit, R. Kelly, Obie Trice and Nickelback - include some type of bonus with their albums: an EP of extra songs, access to online content, a chance to meet the musician or two CD's for the price of one.

Others like Vivendi are doing it, as some retailers are trying new things (like customer service - how 'bout that) with knowledgeable sales people and places to hang out and listen to music before buying, seeing as the merchants have little control over the merchandise itself.

Enticing customers is even more difficult when the music industry's main physical product, the CD, has become increasingly unimportant, particularly to young people who have grown up with music as digital computer files. "My 17-year-old daughter loses the jewel boxes as fast as she can," said John Esposito, president of WEA, AOL Time Warner's music distribution arm, referring to the plastic cases that hold CD's.

Go figure. Seems like they have a ways to go before they get that CD is a losing medium. Maybe Esposito should try usability testing his kids. People want flexibility, portability, ease. CDs are awful, they scratch, they peel, and you can't mix up 200 songs and play them in random order on the cheap the way you can with electronic media. I ripped all my CDs years ago and I would never go back. It's so much more fun this way. And yet, given the extras, I'd buy a CD verses buying downloads, and then rip it for playing with all the other stuff I've already ripped.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 05, 2003

We've been slashdotted (out of date info) on the RIAA subpoenas. This post. I'm updating it now, but if anyone has more up to date info on the current number of subpoenas, please let me know. Thanks.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:14 PM | Permalink
Even the Greedy and the Oafish Enjoy the Protection of the Law. But Do We Have to Give Up Privacy To Make Things Fair?

Daniel Akst/NYTimes: Where Nobody Knows You're a Music Thief, on the internet:

If it's a place where nobody knows you're a dog, as a New Yorker cartoon once said, then it's also a place where nobody knows you're a crook, either. Even you may not know. Anonymity allows honest people to sustain a higher level of dishonesty without guilt...

After which he goes on to say that people rationalize stealing copyright protected works because they are not offered online for sale, the record companies charge too much, and are otherwise evil, and this is no excuse for stealing. He is right. However, those same companies are the ones who've lobbied Congress to make copyright law slant in their favor. That is the real issue, and in need of some major redoing (think the subpoena process under the DMCA as just one example of the ridiculous situation we currently have.)

He goes on:
The absurd Robin Hood narrative that has sprung up around music sharing only obscures what is happening: that a large group of mainly middle-class individuals are not just breaking the law, but also attacking the legal concept that is essential to freedom and prosperity in the information age.

Yes, and the whole copyright agreement (we give you the monopoly, you must deal responsibly with it, is out of balance...) needs work. Stealing is not okay. But neither is the current copyright regime. That regime needs to change or it will kill the freedom and prosperity of the information age because it locks information property (that word is really not right for this discussion, but until I find a better one...) down so tightly that fair use, scientific research, innovation and competition get run over.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the fairest thing of all? The answer is probably authentication. Sooner or later we will need to know who everyone on the Internet is, and who confirmed their identities. Internet access providers who admit unauthenticated users will have to be shut out, even if that means shutting out whole countries.

One of the terrific things about the internet is our ability to be anonymous. Regarding our consumption of intellectual materials, this is critical. The idea that all need be revealed just so that copyright holders can count every unit is ridiculous, corrosive to the democracy and totally unnecessary. He is suggesting we lurch into the totalitarian.

In such a world, there would be no doubt about who was violating copyright laws or otherwise misusing the electronic commons. It's sad, I know. The ability to shed one's identity online seemed a dream for a while, but as the poet Delmore Schwartz reminds us, "in dreams begin responsibilities."

There are other possibilities, as the recently evolving discussion on compulsory licensing and other methods for paying artists for their works proves, and I wish Akst would have considered this before reiterating the fallacy that it's either privacy or ... {security, copyright, whatever}. We can pay artists, make an honest system, do the right thing for a healthy internet, and keep our privacy. The discussions around these issues are worth the effort, to find something better than what we have now, that doesn't hurt the public and the commons even more so than the current copyright regime has.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 04, 2003
Hacker vs. Cracker

Making a good point about this definition, this is worth reading: J. D. Biersdorfer/NYTimes: Q. What is the difference between a "hacker" and a "cracker"?
A. Although the term "hacker" has taken on negative connotations, it was once a flattering label reserved for those who could appreciate, operate and program computers. References to hackers and hacking in the computer culture are thought to date from the 1960's.

As noted in the third edition of The New Hacker's Dictionary (M.I.T. Press, 1996), Eric S. Raymond's compilation of computer-related jargon, a hacker is "a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary." The text also notes the original definition of the word: "someone who makes furniture with an ax."

Over the years, the term "hacker" came to be used to refer to people who used their knowledge of computers to break into other people's systems to steal data and passwords and wreak havoc.

Old-time hackers who do not condone such behavior refer to these intruders as crackers, but that usage has not gained wide recognition.

Other sources on this: Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy (Anchor, 1984)
The Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen

I haven't read Hacker: Heroes, but I read the Hacker Ethic a few years ago and it's very good at defining the distinction between hackers and crackers. (Foreword by Manuel Castells.) I think the difference is important and usually try to note that in posts.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 02, 2003
Indies Mobilize Against Screener Ban

So the MPAA announced they were no longer going to send copies of movies to Oscar members and other award screeners, because they fear piracy. Basically, the MPAA has been sending all the films on VHS/DVD to members in order to vote on the nominations. Small indie type films that get nominated are often inaccessible to older Oscar members because they play in obscure theaters or have short runs. The MPAA wants to stop sending out these film copies, because of internet piracy fears, but the indie producers and directors say this ban will hurt small filmmakers, while the big ones, backed by the incumbents, who have their movies on a lot of screens, will most likely be seen by members of the Academy (why does it feel so ridiculous, typing "members of the Academy"?).

So the indies will fight back. Here's a list of some supporting the statement by Michelle Byrd, head of IFP/New York: Steven Beer of Greenberg Traurig, Ed Carroll of IFC, Ira Deutchman of Emerging Pictures, producer Nelson George, and Carole Radziwill as well as Killer Films producers Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler, as well as Ted Hope, Anthony Bregman and Anne Carey of This Is That, GreeneStreet's John Penotti and partner Fisher Stevens, along with Ed Pressman and John Schmidt of ContentFilm, Jonathan Sehring of IFC Films, directors John Waters and Robert Altman, Rachel Cohen from Artisan, producers Lee Daniels, Sarah Green, Ross Katz and Susan Stover, screenwriter Bill Condon, writer/director Peter Hedges, and actors Selma Blair, Steve Buscemi, Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, and Tracey Ullman.

Has the MPAA thought about issuing DVD's to members, with unique hash marks so they could at least trace back a leaked file to a particular member? Maybe through internal policing they could take care of this, instead of making the whole film community suffer.

The NYTimes also discusses the indie point of view.

Update: NYTimes again here, with the story that the Small Studios Say DVD Edict Will Diminish Oscar Chances.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Privacy Rights Depend on the Kind of Information Requested

Seth Schiesel/NYTimes covers your privacy with respect to your entertainment choices in Your Own Affair, More (VCR) or Less (MP3). Basically, if the RIAA wants your personal info from an ISP because of suspected filesharing, it only need write a subpoena and send it to your ISP. No judge, no opportunity to protest by the user. No privacy law in place to protect any user from having their information requested and delivered by the ISP. On the other hand, if say, the IRS wants your cable records, they must show a judge good reason, and the user has the ability to respond, before the information is turned over to the requesting party. However, there is no statute that covers user privacy for satellite cable.

"Consumers are almost totally unaware that different modes of communication carry with them different expectations of privacy and have different rules," said Paul Glist, a communications lawyer with Cole, Raywid & Braverman in Washington who has represented major cable-television companies. "Every line of business has a different set of regulations, and it really is a maze. There are many times when a company comes to me and they just want to do the right thing and they can't figure it out. You might have one law saying you have to disclose certain information to law enforcement and another law saying you can't disclose the information unless other conditions are met."

For instance, federal law says law enforcement agencies may monitor the phone numbers a citizen is dialing, as they are being dialed, after certifying only that the information is "relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation." Under that provision, the person under surveillance need not even be the person suspected of breaking the law. Generally the subject of that surveillance is not notified of the government's action.

By contrast, a separate law says that even when law enforcement agencies obtain a court order to gain access to a consumer's video rental records, the consumer must be notified before those records are turned over.

Very confusing, but the article does make the point that distinguishing between different types of technologies that in the digital world are really pretty similar is silly, and therefore, the crazy patchwork quilt of privacy protects that differ from one technology to the next should be streamlined. And as the quote above notes, keeping track of the differences is hard on companies, too.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:31 PM | Permalink
Hackers, Twinkies, Somebody Did It But It Wasn't Me

Entrapment -- Incriminating Peer to Peer Network Users (pdf) by Anonymous (or "have2Banonymous") is a seemingly academic paper that suggests some "twinkie" defenses for those subpoenaed or sued by the RIAA for file sharing. Basically, the idea is that if accused, rather than settling, the accused could say that malicious attackers or hackers tricked the accused into downloading and unknowingly sharing the files, or, the attackers planted say, 1000 files (around 2 gbs?? How do you slip that past someone?).

New Scientist has an article on the paper, Innocent file-sharers could appear guilty, that suggests the paper's assertions are reasonable. While security experts quoted in their article do say attacks could happen, and technically, it does appear to be possible on some networks under certain circumstances, why would anyone do it? And by manipulating file requests on those networks, how would they get enough files planted on any one user's harddrive to cause problems? I mean, a user would have to be on filesharing networks often, for long periods, and send many file requests, and the hacker would then have to alter each request, and then the user would have to select the files the hacker intended the user to select, for download. Yes, it's possible, but it seems extremely unlikely, and as a defense? What judge would take this seriously?

There was the recent case where a guy who says he didn't download child porn, used this kind of defense to say that he didn't know he had it and thought it was placed on his system by some spyware Trojan horse he probably surfed/clicked past. That seems more plausible, because porn purveyors have an incentive to get people to come to their sites and to install spyware to watch where users go and what they do there, to try to get more business.

Why would a hacker/spyware/other program put files on your computer? I can see putting a couple of child porn pictures (small k download so it's quick and relatively unnoticeable, and the idea is to entice you to their site to spend money), but 3mg mp3 files would be bigger, inconvenient to hide, and what is the incentive to place them on your system? I can't see a judge buying it other than accepting a general computer ignorance by the user. But if the user's machine has something like KaZaa installed, and had a 1000 unauthorized files on their system, and the RIAA downloaded 10 or 20 of those files to verify them as unauthorized files, the accused would have a hard time claiming that they were tricked by attackers into downloading files some of the files, or tricked by KaZaa into sharing them. It may be true, but they installed a file sharing program, had some files intentionally, and were still sharing unauthorized files.

This paper has an anonymous author, and though it's written in an academic style, with some code that looks real, it's strange. Why would the author not want anyone to know who they were if they were advancing something reasonable? They might not want the information connected to them, but at that point, it's much harder to take this seriously. For example, at the very end of the paper, the author suggests that someone accused of filesharing copyrighted works could show "the authorities" the paper to claim the files were placed there, and "they probably were." Why would any judge believe a paper with no author that advances a questionable defense? First of all, if you get sued, you don't go "directly to the authorities", because these suits are a civil matter. You get a lawyer or defend yourself, and the only authority in the case if it goes to trial is a judge, not the police. And how does the author know a user's files were placed on the user's system by someone else, as he suggests?

This paper reminds me of those old hoax email that prey on people's ignorance, in this case about computers, and what is reasonable. I just don't see the motivation for planting mp3s on people's systems, except in rare cases of personal vendetta. Which also seems ridiculous, because I can think of much easier ways to get to someone if you wanted to do it. It just seems farfetched.

Frank also mentions this, and /. discusses.

Update: Fred Von Lohmann, Meditations on Trusted Computing. He talks about being in control of and trusting your own system, as well as having others trust your system. An interesting contrast to the paper mentioned above. And Seth Schoen posts his paper: Trusted Computing: Promise and Risk which, according to Cory, is a "...long-awaited, brilliant white-paper on Trusted Computing. Seth has been briefed as an outside technical analyst by all the companies working of Trusted Computing architecture, and has had his paper vetted by some of the leading security experts in the field. This is the most exhaustive, well-reasoned, balanced analysis of Trusted Computing you can read today. Don't miss it." /. discusses.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:48 AM | Permalink
October 01, 2003
Music Rolls On

I listened to the first hour of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs hearing yesterday. From this panel: Mitch Bainwol, head of the RIAA, Jack Valenti head of the MPA, LL Cool J and Mike Negra, President of Mikes Video, Inc., State College, Pennsylvania, one noteworthy impression: they seemed to lack understanding of the difference between client-server systems (Napster) and P2P models (KaZaa, Grokster). Considering that Napster was ruled to be illegal, because it used a centralized server to make connections which the company could control, and the other P2P models are still here because they are dispersed without centralized control, I would think they would want to understand the distinction. Because of this lack of distinction, they appeared yesterday to want to deploy solutions that are tailored more to a centralized model, like popup messages warning users (who are not connected to a centralized server) about unauthorized file sharing. Here is the Katie Dean/Wired article on this, although it focuses mostly on the different artists' perspectives from Chuck D and LL Cool J.

In other news, Madonna is being sued for copyright infringement by the son of Guy Bourdin over her videos for "Hollywood." Apparently, the videos copy many of the images he made for Vogue in the 50's. Do a compare and contrast for yourself. Note that Madonna was the one who planted files on P2P networks a few months ago with recordings of her voice where she asked "what the f*ck do you think you're doing," which then led to a series of remix contests of the files.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:33 AM | Permalink