December 31, 2003
Porting My Number

Here is an update on the porting of my number from ATT to Cingular (I love the new service, which is a significant increase in quality and quite a bit less money for the same amount of service) which I mentioned before. I received about 40 email from people who had problems like mine when I first posted on this, and also reported ATT to the FCC, who apparently got into trouble overall for these issues with the FCC during the time I was in number portability hell.

Porting from ATT was a nightmare, including about 80 hours on the phone, mostly on hold, winding up with a 12 hour call with ATT on the final day, before I was finally finished. It got so ridiculous, that the next to last day, I called ATT, went out for three hours to do grocery shopping, etc, and returned to find out that yes, I was still on hold. However, for the most part, I felt trapped endlessly for hours each day with my landline, and yet had no cell phone to make other calls on during this time. And of course, I'm still fighting with ATT to get the early termination fee I paid back, as I don't believe I owe it. Good luck if you decide to get your number out of ATT. They are awful. Cingular has so far been great.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 24, 2003
Happy Holidays

Not really doing much blogging around here, as I have ten people coming for dinner. Been making a cassoulet the past three days. And last night, a french onion soup, with 10 pounds of shallots, from a farmer friend in Sonoma. I can't stand those cheese filled flavorless onion soups they make in restaurants. This is just shallots, sweated for a while in vermouth, with broth left over from the duck and lamb broths I made for the cassoulet, and then when served, a small amount of fresh asiago grated on a little toast dropped on top of the soup, put under the broiler. The cassoulet is so good because instead of deriving the flavor from fat, it's slow cooked for two days, with gamey duck and goose legs and breasts, pork shoulder, leg of lamb and lamb ribs, duck sausage, ham hock, lamb neck and then the fat is skimmed several times, so that what remains are deep rich flavors, cooked into the cassoulet beans, with duck and lamb broth, again, skimmed of fat. Layered beans, meats, beans, breadcrumbs. Cooked again. Ummmm.

It's very rich, but not heavy, the way we think of rich foods in our fast cooking culture, where rich = heavy = fat or fried or cream. This is slow cooked (though you do something for an hour and then walk away for 12 hours), with lots of flavor, and a lot less fat. Delicious. With a little butter lettuce salad, walnut and sherry vinegrette, pear slices and toasted walnuts. And we are fortunate that a pastry chef friend is bringing creme brulee, and I have some of those Satsuma tangerines that are like candy now, macerated in cointreau.

You can see why my mind is not on IP or blogging. I'm very thankful that we can have such a nice dinner with friends and family. Have happy holidays and enjoy!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 22, 2003
Oh Marie! The Meaning and The Expression. And The Napsterization Of It.

Pleasure and pain. Earlier today in spin class, again: Hey hey Marie, Oh Marie In your arms I'm longing to be! Longing to be! (another half turn! off the saddles! double time! no bounce!). I started spin classes six years ago. The spin leaders bring in new music to keep us interested (don't worry, the institution pays the ASCAP etc. fees) on rainy nights. We've all had instances where we first heard a song and it stuck partly because the music arrested us in it's greatness on first listen, partly because of what is going on in the place you hear it, and partly because when it's over, you long to hear it again. Humm it, roll it around in your brain.

And so it was with Louie Prima and Ray Charles. My legs burned, I wasn't bouncing, in total control: Hey hey Marie, Oh Marie! In your arms I'm longing to be, Ah Baby, tell me you love me (Another half turn, level 8, half-time pacing, no bounce, very slow and hard!)

Three times a week. The last two years, with iPod music. Transition to Vanessa May, violinist from the UK, with (I) Can-Can (You) (very fast music, level 1 easy, spinning as fast as you can, out of the saddle, all out, everyone in the room burning up, sweating, furiously pumping the bikes.)

I can listen to Oh Marie outside of spin and not associate it with class (I heard it last month drinking cosmos, eating fresh crab, laughing with very good friends), but the Can-Can is in my spin-only brain.

Music is something I love and want to play conveniently, flexibly, easily, exactly the way I want it, in what order, when and how, 1000 songs on shuffle, for two weeks of music, with no repeats. I don't think anyone would quibble with that desire anymore. Somehow the disruption of the internet on the music business has stuck many of us, because we see the chance to seize the thrill music can generate in your body and your head, in ways that are as easy as they've ever been: rip all your CD's to mp3s (took 6 months, but I did it), and put them all in a software player, and it's effortless. Total control without changing discs, thousands of songs, click. Sumptuous. It's an aural decadence we've never had before. It seems like there was this hidden craving just sitting under the surface, waiting to be satisfied. There are also musicians who want to distribute, on P2P or put things on their websites, cut out the middleman. Their music can get passed around, take advantage of the information flow, where the more they are heard, the more important their music becomes.

So this is the reason Eddan Katz and I started Napsterization.org/stories/ about a year ago . We wanted a place to have people express their excitement about music, digital music, P2P uses that were good and that allowed them to access stuff they'd be hard-pressed to find at the local record shop.

Over the past couple of years, I've realized that there is more there than just the napsterization of entertainment. Digital media, the internet, information technology disrupt everything. And disruption is a good thing. Lower transaction costs for each person, the ease and flexibility of digital communication, to join a political campaign actively but from somewhere away from the campaign, to link up with other folks to let politicians know what you think. Blogging and the disruption to the news media lead to tools to see the "daily us" as Technorati calls it; social software disrupts our real life social networks, while making it easier to connect with some people and see explicitly the relationships; hardware like the iPod and Treo 600 collapse analog barriers and lead to changes in our behavior with techology and media. Napsterization is happening everywhere. So while the blog is for the recording of positive uses of P2P, it's also for the analysis of that, in addition to other situations where napsterization happens.

I'll still write for the bIPlog on IP issues, but check out Napsterization.org too.

Ummm Baby, tell me you love me! Kiss me once while the stars shine above me (Another half turn, find your pace!)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 20, 2003
RFID Tags Located in WSIS Conference Badges

Without participant's knowledge. See this write-up, by these participants: Ass. Prof. Dr. Alberto Escudero-Pascual, Researcher in Computer Security and Privacy, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Stephane Koch, President Internet Society Geneva, Executive Master of Economic Crime Investigations, Geneva, Switzerland and George Danezis, Researcher in Privacy Enhancing Technologies and Computer Security, Cambridge University, UK.

Apparently, these participants took apart their World Summit on Information Society conference badges and discovered RFID tags. Others who attended the conference included Larry Lessig who pointed to this in his blog. Smartmobs also commented on this. An excerpt from the researchers findings:

    The official Summit badges, which are plastic and the size of a credit card, hide an "RF smart card" [1 - see the last picture in this series, and look at item #1] - a hidden chip that can communicate its information via radio frequency. It carries both a unique identifier associated with the participant, and a radio frequency tag (RFID) that can be "read" when close to a sensor. These sensors can be located anywhere, from vending machines to the entrance of a specific meeting room allowing the remote identification and tracking of participants, or groups of participants, attending the event.
    The data relating to the card holder (personal details, access authorization, account information, photograph etc.) is not stored on the smart card itself, but instead managed by a centralized relational database. This solution enables the centralized system to monitor closely every movement of the participants at the entrance of the conference center, or using data mining techniques, the human interaction of the participants and their relationship. The system can potentially be extended to track participants' movements within the summit and detect their presence at particular session.

There are other threat models: if the WSIS conference organizers were trying to protect their attendees, they might think about securing the system, so that tracking could not be used to find a particular participant, or a random participant, to harm them or violate their privacy. WSIS would also consider that simply being able to detect presence is a threat in itself, as well as knowing particulars such as who, where and what for more directed harm based on that information.

Also, the lack of knowledge about the future use and aggregation of the database of pictures and participants activities and personal information is disconcerting, along with the fact that they tracked people without telling them, and had no privacy or data retention policy, as the researchers have noted.

It's not that using RFID tags is implicitly bad, but we have to think about the way we use this technology to collect information, and build in ways to be considerate of others, protecting privacy, as well as not building sensor systems that can potentially endanger them. This was an international conference with prominent attendants. If the conference organizers are concerned enough for the conference overall and the participants well-being in general to install physical security with metal detectors for all entrants, they must also think about ways they may put people in danger at the conference simply by collecting this kind of information, while leaving RFID tracking computers in plain view.

Security threats to WSIS participants include scenarios where someone might have a reader that could not make sense of tag information, but simply tell that someone was in a particular spot, without knowing who they are, but harm them based on this information. This might occur on the conference premises, or in a store with active readers, or a hotel, or walking down the street.

I think people might be concerned about simply being seen as "live" while in different environments, for their own safety. Right now, with our analog environmental frameworks still implicitly informing our thoughts in this area, we don't contemplate this. We don't think of our persons as trackable except in very particular situations (the airport with security cameras or on certain roads - but these cameras relate back to hopefully secure video systems). But we do need to start thinking about this. I don't want to be the target of a mugger who simply can tell when someone is coming, because of a cheap reader and a tag I unwittingly carry that might betray proximity. Readers are not standardized, but readers can sometimes detect tags they can't "read." And eventually, as readers become more sophisticated, using more powerful detection, the 18" they more typically read now in handheld systems might turn 10' or 50' (yes, I know the manufacturers say the reading range is longer than 18" inches but that's on a lab bench, and talking with users finds 18" is the practical reality).

RFID Generally

RFID is certainly not as dire or apocalyptic as Katherine Albrecht says. Most notably due to the battery issue, because unlike harddrives and processors, batteries are not subject to Moore's Law, and do not double in capacity every 18 months, while reducing in size. Batteries limit what the tags can do, even if they are rechargeable via solar, wind, expanding liquid packets or movement, or some other mechanism, which is also limiting.

epc.jpg

Electronic Product Code's (a standard of RFID that are similar to Uniform Product Codes, but instead of scanning them like UPCs, EPCs are RFID, and reflect back to readers the data programmed, though EPC's are not yet entirely standardized, but Walmart has mandated its suppliers use - a couple of months ago) are not battery powered, and so the tag reader must send energy to the tag to wake it up, at which point the tag reflects back information. Walmart's fantasy of having and EPC system in place on shelves within 18 months is just that, a fantasy. I don't believe they will get a system set up, at that point in the supply chain, out on the sales floor, with a tag on every item in the store, because the readers currently can read no more than 20 tags in a minute at around 18" range. Imagine a clerk running around, reading thousands upon thousands of tags, with a reader at 20 per minute. Or imagine shelf readers everywhere. Either way, there will simply be too much noise from other tags to get good readings. And the EPC tags at $.50 cents are currently too expensive to put on every box of Fruit Loops or can opener. Even at $.20 cents, which the EPC makers are shooting for, even that price will be too expensive for most small items at Walmart. But in maybe 8-10 years, it could happen if the price, power and reader issues are worked out. (According to the conference this fall at the Auto-ID centerM/a> at MIT (now AutoIDLab), Texas Instruments and Alien have so far only made about 5,000 EPC tags.) What is more likely is that luxury goods, which are expensive, will have tags soon because the cost will be worth it for them to experiment for a couple of years with this stuff.

The question is, will other stores or other places be able to read the Walmart tags and make sense of the information there, to do something with it? EPC tags have a set format, and without encryption, this does pose privacy threats, preference threats, personal safety threats (if you are detectable, not as you particularly, but simply as a human in a certain space, where you don't know someone is peering at you, you could be in harm's way, with your Prada briefcase...).

In reality, Walmart will implement the EPC tag system in the next 18 months on the part of the supply chain that consumers don't touch, the part where each case of products from a supplier can have a tag, and be tracked to prevent theft, damage, and simply save the company money. And that part poses no threats to customers, however, employees could find themselves tracked in ways they have not been in the past, as well as third parties such as trucking companies and personnel. While most of this is appropriate, again there could be personal safety threats to people.

On the other hand, things are not so casual, that as Larry Downes has said, we should withhold judgment against these kinds of systems. But there is a place somewhere in the middle of Albrecht's and Downes' positions that is more reasonable, realistic, but also requires some action. Obviously, the WSIS situation shows that the tags pose certain threats right now, depending on particular RFID tag and reader usage and capabilities, and the construction of the database and security systems, as well as the life of the data and the future uses and privacy policies. We do need to pay attention, understand the technology realistically, and make reasonable decisions for giving notice to anyone getting a tag in any form, whether in a badge or in a product, and take steps to limit the life of the data and the life of the tag, where appropriate.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
December 19, 2003
Verizon Wins! Subpoenas Not Authorized

Just a quick note, as I'm working on something else at the moment, but good news!

From Reuters: Court Says Net Music Subpoenas Not Authorized

The RIAA has been using DMCA subpoenas to get subscriber's identities in order to sue the ISP's customers for copyright infringement because of file sharing. However, the subpoena process is heavily flawed under the DMCA, where there is no court oversight required for the subpoena, like there would be in a regular action. The District Court in Washington, DC has agreed with Verizon (see the opinion) that existing copyright law doesn't give the RIAA the right to get ISP customer information in the manner they have been under the DMCA.

    "In sum, we agree with Verizon that (the law) does not by its terms authorize the subpoenas issued here," Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote.

And from Wendy Selzer: "Internet users are the winners...." See Derek Slater for more in-depth analysis of the case and what this means. Derek suggests there is likely to be an appeal, but for now, this may cause Congress to step in to reevaluate copyright issues.


Via Donna (doesn't this sound like a lovely drink, something citrusy and ice-cold, that you might enjoy on a warm roof top at sunset in Rome while watching the glow fade across the tops of the Vatican and monuments like Vittorio Emanuel? Donna is like that, only better: smart, lovely, refreshing, and you feel so fortunate to know her!)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
December 18, 2003
Diebold Has Uncertified Code in Every System in CA

Freedom-to-Tinker has the scoop on the latest with Diebold, from Kim Alexander at California Voter Foundation: Diebold was found Tuesday to have installed uncertified software in all 17 counties in California where they have voting systems.

    ...Secretary of State Kevin Shelley came into the meeting to address the panel and spoke very firmly and passionately about the need for voters to have confidence in elections. He also suggested that it is possible Diebold could be decertified in California altogether.

Obviously, at this point we can all agree that open verifiable code and paper trails are critical for the veracity public voting software systems. It's nice to know these issues are squarely on the radar of the Secretary of State's office.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 17, 2003
Infringement Schema

Someone has emailed the tags from an automated warning sent from Universal Studios about downloading copyrighted material. The email has been tagged with a bit of XML:

?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
Infringement xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="http://mpto.unistudios.com/xml/Infringement_schema.xsd">
Case>
ID>2750178/ID>
Status>New/Status>
/Case>
Complainant>
Entity>Universal Studios/Entity>
Contact>Aaron Markham/Contact>
Address>100 Universal City Plaza (1280/6)/Address>
Phone>818-777-3111/Phone>
Email>antipiracy1@unistudios.com/Email>
/Complainant>
Service_Provider>
Entity>NYC BRIDGED CIRCUITS/Entity>
Contact>/Contact>
Address>25 Broadway/Address>
Email>abuse@speakeasy.net/Email>
/Service_Provider>
Source>
TimeStamp>2003-25-10T01:39:48Z/TimeStamp>
IP_Address>[CENSORED]/IP_Address>
DNS_Name[CENSORED]/DNS_Name>
Type>BitTorrent/Type>
UserName>None/UserName>
Number_Files>1/Number_Files>
Deja_Vu>No/Deja_Vu>
/Source>
Content>
Item>
Title>Day Of The Jackal/Title>
FileName>The Day of the Jackal (1973).avi/FileName>
FileSize>1400961024/FileSize>
URL>x.x.x.x:6883/The Day of the Jackal (1973).avi/URL>
Type>Video/Type>
Item>
Content>
Infringement>

They even have their own schema:
http://mpto.unistudios.com/xml/Infringement_schema

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Ithaca College May Rule Out Fair Use For Works in Readers

Updated 121703: Apparently, they are afraid of getting sued over the readers that lots of profs make up for classes, full of mostly copyright protected works, but sometimes with a few public domain works in the mix. Because of their fears, Ithaca is proposing that every work in a reader be cleared for copyright. Under fair use, portions of works might be allowed to be used for educational purposes as long as the work is not sold for profit, in a reader. Partly, this will affect professors who will have to make more time to clear the copyrights, or choose other works than they had planned, and partly students who will miss out on some works or pay increased fees. Or articles and book chapters will go to the library reserve, where people just copy them anyway, and is a waste of time for student, profs and the library. But it's really too bad that for fear of a lawsuit, they propose making it impossible in a practical way to rely on the fair use doctrine under the education portion of this part of copyright law. Call it the lose-lose policy.

I point out my personal reader costs this Fall: Biz of Media at the JSchool was free - they treated us to the copyright fees paying them directly (thanks guys!); New Product Development at Haas Biz School was $107, Technology Strategy at Haas was $102, and the Samuelson Clinic at the Law School was $58 (not a Pam Samuelson class). Those prices don't include tax, at close to 9%. You can see why the few articles in the public domain matter to students who otherwise pay steep prices for readers. (And that's not including 4 books, which were another $300 for the semester, for a total overall including other materials, of $800, which is high for students on a fixed budget. And when you calculate student loans, which many of my classmates have, at $20k, minus fees at $6.2k, $1.6 for books, that leaves $12k to live on for 8 months in the Bay Area, the most expensive area in the country -- yes, when I was in NY last month, I realized yet again that NY is actually cheaper than SF. Boy is that weird. NY is always supposed to be more expensive, but no longer.)

On the other hand, Pam Samuelson's reader for our SIMS class last year was $22.00, the cost of the copy job, because she will not use materials that require a copyright payment (those not in the public domain). I respect that in a professor, not just because of the reduced costs. It's a nod to the public domain, in deed, as well as in theory.

Update 121803: Add Google's new print service (beta) to Amazon's print search service, and why make a reader, when you can just link to the two pages (chapter) in a book online. That's the way the memex - I mean internet is supposed to work.

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)
RIAA the New Big Brother?

Check out Clay Shirky's latest: The RIAA Succeeds Where the Cypherpunks Failed

    It may be time to dust off that old issue of Wired, because the RIAA is succeeding where 10 years of hectoring by the Cypherpunks failed. When shutting down Napster turned out to have all the containing effects of stomping on a tube of toothpaste, the RIAA switched to suing users directly. This strategy has worked much better than shutting down Napster did, convincing many users to stop using public file sharing systems, and to delete MP3s from their hard drives. However, to sue users, they had to serve a subpoena, and to do that, they had to get their identities from the user's internet service providers.
    Identifying those users has had a second effect, and that's to create a real-world version of the scenario that drove the invention of user-controlled encryption in the first place. Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public key encryption, the trategy that underlies most of today's cryptographic products, saw the problem as a version of "Who will guard the guardians?"
    In any system where a user's identity is in the hands of a third party, that third party cannot be trusted. No matter who the third party is, there will be at least hypothetical situations where the user does not want his or her identity revealed, but the third party chooses or is forced to disclose it anyway....

In other words, the third parties are our ISPs, and with the DMCA subpoena problem, our identity is vulnerable to the likes of the RIAA or anyone else who grunts "copyright infringement," no matter how stupid or not true.

    The RIAA's successful extraction of user identity from internet service providers makes it vividly clear that the veil of privacy enjoyed by the average internet user is diaphanous at best, and that the obstacles to piercing that veil are much much lower than for, say, allowing the police to search your home or read your (physical) mail. Diffie's hypothetical problem is today's reality. As a result, after years of apathy, his proposed solution is being adopted as well.

Which brings us to the Darknet, which we've written about quite a bit before. So now we all have Waste accounts and trade secretly, and the resulting loosely bundled groups of people, using encryption.

Frankly, I believe that sharing copyrighted materials amongst *real* friends (you know, like taping a TV show and lending it to a friend) is legal fair use, and so small networks of friends that know each other, and recommend stuff, share it, falls into this category for me. That is not to say that sharing copyrighted works with all 60 million of your best pals on KaZaa is right, as I think that IS copyright infringement.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 15, 2003
Creative Commons 1 Year Celebration

Last night, Creative Commons marked their first year anniversary with a party where Larry Lessig, Glenn Otis Brown and Chris Lydon among others talked about the many, many accomplishments over the past year, and played a wonderful flash animation about CC or here, particularly emphasizing the export of CC worldwide. One thing they mentioned was that all content online from the radio show, Tech Nation, will now be under a CC license, and they have had more than a million uses of the licenses over the past year.

The party was a great time to meet up with Stanford and Berkeley folks, artists and geeks, and those who support having balance between copyright and the public domain. I got to meet Joi Ito, whose sister I met at a conference last spring, and since she spoke about him in such a sweet way, I have wanted to meet him ever since. So that was fun. Also, the videoblog goddess (and otherwise all around goddess), Lisa Rein was there, taping, and presumably will have the video up on her blog soon.

Also, considering donating to Creative Commons here.

Update 121903: Check out Christopher Lydon's interview with Larry Lessig done just after the event (you can hear the last of us in the background of the audio interview). I gave Chris a ride back to Berkeley and he said he said he would get it up quickly, though he's been traveling, and he did!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Closing The Internet: Coming to an FCC Near You

Per JD Lasica, take a look at this op-ed from the SJ Mercury News on closing the internet off, by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps: Battle to control Internet threatens open access. It's quite a scary story, where basically, big companies are lobbying the FCC (and after the broadcast flag win, you know big companies feel confident these days...) to reduce FCC requirements that those big companies not restrict services to their customers. What is that double negative, you say?

Well, the FCC requires that networks stay open, and be non-discriminatory. Customers can access most anything, anywhere out on the free internet. But companies that want to control what content you see, what software you use, and would like to change the rules so that they can control the content you see or force you to use their software and services, and keep you from their competitor's sites.

    Think about what could happen if your broadband provider could discriminate. It could decide which news sources or political sites you could view. It could prevent you from using children's Internet filtering technology that it didn't sell or that filtered out its own Web sites. It could prevent you from using spam-jamming programs to block its spam. It could impose restrictions on the use of virtual private networks by telecommuters and small businesses to keep them as paying customers of the public network. It could limit access to streaming video to protect its core content business. Sound far-fetched? It's already beginning to happen.

Read the article, either on JD's site, or at the Merc.

It would be a nightmare to try to reverse this sort of thing in the courts and take many years, and might not be successful. Let's stop it before it gets adopted by the FCC. Remember when Michael Powell told us that it didn't matter about upping the media concentration rules because "the internet would save us" due to all the openness and choice present there? Well, kiss choice goodbye under this latest plan.

Here is John Walker's view of this issue.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Jesse Jackson Has Infringed Copyright

According to God by republishing 35% of the bible. Via Donna.

Evidently, Jesse keeps referring God to the EFF.

(I'm working hard on finishing up a big project, and getting over the thing that apparently everyone on the west coast has... but I'll be back shortly.)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 14, 2003
OT: My Nightmare with AT&T Wireless

While this is OT for the biplog, I have to relate this story. I have had a terrible experience with AT&T wireless, and now have tried to change to Cingular. Cingular does not require a contract (month-to-month service) if you bring your own phone (my Treo 600 is my own) and otherwise, they have wonderful terms, as well as reportedly three times the data transmission rate over any other GSM carrier in the Bay Area. To date, AT&T has rejected four requests for porting the number.

The first rejection was Friday night, apparently because I had not prepaid the early termination fee of $175. Note that I have been a digital customer for 2.8 years (along with 2 other years of AT&T analog service), and do not consider myself under contract, though they do, most recently because in the process of correcting a billing error they made last Thursday, they reset my contract to December 10th, 2003. I then paid the early termination fee upfront, and had all other bills paid, over the phone with credit card, upon which they rejected three more Cingular requests to port the number, two while I was on the phone conferenced together with Cingular and AT&T port administration guys for over two hours.

This morning, after an hour on hold, Peg in AT&T Port administration told me that they would reject any subsequent requests, because I was under contract until March, 2004, and couldn't leave until then. I said no way, I'm leaving, and I paid an early termination fee yesterday for this purpose. She told me that was for billing fees, and that until I prepaid my early termination fee with billing, I would continue to be rejected. I said my bill was paid in full, and I'd paid the early termination fee yesterday, and I didn't see why I had to pay the early terminiation fee twice. She insisted on putting me through to billing, who told me my bill was paid in full, with an additional $175 early termination fee showing as paid. The billing person and I together waited on hold for an hour to get Peg back, to discuss this together, will all three on the phone to confirm the fully paid bill, with the additional early termination fee paid in advance.

Meanwhile, my AT&T phone is "active" in that I can make outgoing calls since Friday night after the first Cingular request, but I cannot receive incoming calls, though AT&T has told me that I am "required" to pay the bill through December and cannot terminate the bill mid-month. So I am still paying for this half-way cell phone service.

According to the FCC, when leaving one cell company for another:

See the letter I sent to AT&T Billing Disputes and the FCC below under more.

UPDATE 121503: Apparently AT&T has had to explain itself for this kind of behavior to the FCC, today.

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)
December 10, 2003
New Music Model Proposed by Vivendi and MS

Jon Healy/LATimes has this on a tollgate for the internet. Evidently, Vivendi Universal Music Group and Microsoft are teaming up to work on something that will work with P2P sharers (good), making use of digital delivery for spreading content and compensating artists.

    File-sharing networks ... can distribute digital material wrapped in electronic locks that enable copyright owners to charge users for the contents. But the dominant brand of electronic lock, which Microsoft provides, has limited capabilities, said Albhy Galuten, senior vice president for advanced technology at Universal Music Group.
    "It doesn't provide any sort of complex or innovative business models, which is why nobody uses it," he said.
    Universal, Microsoft and the other companies — Japanese telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., chip maker ARM Holdings, Internet security company VeriSign Inc. and rights-management specialist Macrovision Corp. — have joined forces in what they call the Content Reference Forum.

So people would participate in networks where media is tagged with "content references," which would trigger a series of electronic signals that determined the type of file, the amount it would cost, and how the proceeds would be divided.

Alternative pricing options include things like this: a record label could offer an album free to the first 5,000 people who download it, then charge $2 to the next 5,000 people, then $5, and so on.

We've discussed the gaming possibilities here before, and the privacy issues, and the conference at Harvard last week touched on these problem areas as well. Or maybe this system isn't so new, just the alternate compensation system, with a haircut and some new glasses, that been discussed in various forms for a while. But now, put into practice, it seems different, but the same?

Since I've gotten sick here at the end of the semester, I'm lite on blogging. But I'm working on a more comprehensive post responding to Derek's post yesterday.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 09, 2003
Trojan File Sharing and Spamming

John Schwartz/NYTimes: Hackers Steal From Pirates, to No Good End:

    ...[The Trojan viruses] use the commandeered machines to form a peer-to-peer network like the popular Kazaa program used to trade music files. Each machine on the network can share resources and provide information to the others without being controlled by a central server machine.
    "It's like Kazaa only without all the pesky copyrighted files," Mr. [Joe] Stewart said [a computer expert at the LURHQ Corporation, a security company based in Chicago]. And, as the music industry has discovered, when there is no central machine, "these tactics make it impossible to shut down," he said.

What does this mean to people sued for copyright infringement and distributing files, the companies that go after filesharers, and what does it mean for our attempts to find ways to compensate creators? Also, evidently 33% of spam is now sent from programs like this, working without people's knowledge on home machines, and trojans are used to install porn dialers used to secretly ring up charges. Spammers have a business incentive for creating trojans and that is a whole new ball game.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Larry Lessig on Tech Nation

I think he was there to talk about the Creative Commons project generally, but since he has just been in Japan to announce CC there, and they are spreading around the world now, the radio show also focused on the new international IP domain they are changing with their work.

So Lessig reviewed the CC license structure:
-legal layer
-human readable "deed"
-machine readable for search engines

And talked about the choices people make when they pick a CC license
-Choice about attribution?
Turns out this is not so important to most users, but a few.
-Allowing commercial use?
-Allowing derivative works?
-Can people be as free with their work as you've been?

They now have more than a 1 million uses of their licenses, where the vast majority wants attribution and non-commercial is freely allowed.

Internationally, they now have 40 countries with creative commons licenses, however each country has a variation because each country's law is different. But the licensing structure is something like this:
-The legal layer is radically different depending on local laws
-Human layers will reflect this
-Machine layers will be universal layers, so equivalent to this (commercial use?) then it's X

Example, in Japan, doujinshi comics, where people take the comics and rewrite, is technically illegal as it is derivative work, under both Japanese and American law, but Japanese comic's lawyers leave it free of regulation because they recognize the value in the buzz created for the work.

Also, at the end of the show, Dr. Moira Gunn announced that all audio for tech nation will go under creative commons licenses.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 07, 2003
James G. on Creativity and Ownership on There

James Grimmelmann has a really interesting piece on Gaming and IP, post State of Play. The Friday morning session had Second Life renouncing any copyright interest for anything its players make while engaging its games. At the session, Yochai Benkler (one of my heros! Because his voice is captivating -- he could read the phone book and I would listen -- but really because he thinks in such interesting ways -- just rethinking what he says, turning it and rethinking again -- I could do that for hours) asked about hurdles to creativity Second Life had placed within There, because he was confused about this announcement, in the context of these hurdles. James is now looking at the issues that question brought up.

One important other point James makes:

    Now, the immediate response that Rosedale supplied to Benkler's question was the Creative Commons one: Larry Lessig has offered us advice on this one. We're looking very seriously into rolling Creative Commons licenses into our code, so you can stamp an object as Creative Commons when you upload it. Benkler makes the same response to the idea of an in-game Creative Commons that he makes to the real-life one: a Creative Commons is a second-best substitute for a real commons. You're bringing in all the faults of copyright law, and then you make this jujitsu move, that we can somehow compensate for these faults. Why not give them true sharing?

This is exactly the problem I was describing about Creative Commons licenses the other day with someone, when we were discussing the short and long term issues with compulsory licenses. Basically, in the short term (a few years) CC licenses and compulsory licensing solve many problems. But longer term, as we do more with digital media, create more within digital environments (verses digitized analog media), develop digital communities with shared input on creative works, across many people and locations, I worry that we are putting a band-aid on something that needs a complete overhaul.

Basically, we need digital IP, digital copyright. And these solutions (CC and CL) are in many ways analog, with a little digitization. They don't truly reflect digital media's properties or issues, or reconcile how to give creators the right amount of control and compensation and ownership, and the public (and other creators) the right amount of access to the public domain, sharing, fair use and other concepts we have already acknowledged in the analog world as important balances to IP ownership, as well as collaboration and sampling, which will be central issues in the creation of digital works. And they don't give the flexibility we will need as increasingly, digital information development transcends our current analog metaphors, and our culture with it.

Anyway, excellent essay by James. Read it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
December 06, 2003
Compulsory Licensing Confab Notes

Update: Derek Slater posts his notes.

Eugene Volokh (brief).
Ed Felten (extensive).

    Ed: The afternoon discussion was about voluntary license schemes. And here an interesting thing happened. We talked for a while about how one might structure a system in which consumers can license a pool of copyrighted music contributed by artists, with the revenue being split up appropriately among the artists. Eventually it became clear that what we were really doing was setting up a record company! We were talking about how to recruit artists, what contract to sign with artists, which distribution channels to use, how to price the product, and what to do about P2P piracy of our works. Give us shiny suits, stubble, tiny earpiece phones, and obsequious personal assistants, and we could join the RIAA. This kind of voluntary scheme is not an alternative to the existing system, but just another entrant into it.

You sly dogs. When you, and the 39 other folks at that thing start wearin trucker hats, talkin' trash, groovin backstage with the likes of Moby or Madge, we say bravo. Walk a mile in the RIAA's shoes before you dis 'em. Fight em with hip. Or not.

    This is not to say that a few ISPs or universities can't get together and cut a voluntary deal with the existing record companies (and other copyright owners). Such a deal would still be interesting, and it would lack some of the disadvantages of the more ambitious mandatory license schemes. Of all of the blanket license schemes, this would be both the least risky and the easiest to arrange. But it hasn't happened yet. (Penn State's deal with Napster doesn't count, since it's just a bulk purchase of subscriptions to a service, and not a blanket license that allows unrestricted use of music on the campus.)

Smart folks. Seems to me they will keep working this over until they come up with something good.

As other's post their thoughts on the Harvard/Berkman conference yesterday, I'll update.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 04, 2003
Piracy = Terrorism?

"Piracy is like terrorism today and it exists everywhere and it is a very dangerous phenomenon." - says the WIPO Director at the UN summit.

No, it's not. Nice try. Terrorism is about harming people physically, and causing terror, for a political agenda. People sharing media is about people sharing media with other people, for cultural, entertainment and personal reasons, whether or not you agree with it, or are willing to get off your duff to figure out a business model that works with P2P and digital media, instead of against it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Compulsory Licensing and Digital Media

The Berkman Center at Harvard is hosting a day of discussion tomorrow on the Development of an Alternate Compensation System for Digital Media in a Global Environment. Among the attendees: Derek Slater, Ernie Miller, Ed Felten and Eddan Katz, as well as Harvard Law School Professor and Berkman Director William Fisher, who has "been investigating two possible alternatives to the current copyright system for addressing this crisis: a mandatory, state-run compulsory licensing system; and a voluntary entertainment co-operative."

Sounds really interesting. Speaking of CLs, there has been so much discussion over the past year on this, and the arguments have been all over the the map, the blogosphere, in traditional media and on various mail lists, and strongly debated, that at times it's been daunting for me to think about jumping in to comment.

But I've written a paper on CLs, located below, that is a reflection of my thoughts at the moment on this subject. My conclusion: that CLs will help us in the short term, with digital media, but long term, they may hold us back from developing new innovations for using digital media that are inconceivable today. And the burden of a new, giant copyright bureaucracy interested in perpetuating itself is also problematic, not to mention the privacy considerations, and the issues of controlling and keeping flexible such a powerful bureaucracy.

See also Ed Felten's post on these issues today.

See also this discussion on the ownership of materials on a group blog.

PS: school's winding down but the workload isn't. Sorry for the spotty posting.

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 01, 2003
This Isn 't Your Father's FOAF

Teresa Riordan/NYTimes has this on the recent purchase (for $700k) of the Six Degrees patent, by Marc Pincus of Tribe and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. They say they purchased the friend of a friend (FOAF) patent because they didn't want anyone else buying it to use it against them, but they are also trying to negotiate with Friendster to become a partner/owner of the patent, though Friendster hasn't jumped in yet. Conversely, Visible Path is treating their processes for understanding people's network and connection habits as a trade secret, so that unlike patents where the process must be disclosed, Visible Path won't share how they do things ("We think that is a higher form of protection.") Visible Path says they operate differently than the Six Degrees patented method, because they evaluate the quality of FOAF connections verses the degrees between connections. At the end of the article, there is this prediction: "This industry [FOAF] is going to go in a thousand different directions," Mr. [Antony] Brydon said. "I think we're going to find that many of the things being protected today are completely irrelevant a year from now."

Somewhat related to that notion is this PC World article asking: will consumers change ip? Granted the examples given are the more commonly known ones such as the Verizon, et al cases with user's privacy in the balance over music sharing, but the question extends far further when you think about the ways we take technology, alter it or its intended uses or blend things never before blendable. Steve Lohr/NYTimes talks about this with Markets Shaped by Consumers where he discusses the ways consumers take technologies, find uses not intended by their creators, or cobble together solutions to problems in innovative ways. Among other things, he mentions the mountain bike, camera phones and text messaging, bluejacking, and FOAF networks like LinkedIn and Friendster.

The ways users shape IP via fair use, either directly by choice or because of the limitations through the architecture of the system they are using, and the issues surrounding consumer generated information, especially about themselves, raises questions of fair use and ownership of personal data and networks in a new way with FOAF networks. Note that this morning on NPR, Choicepoint was quoted as saying that in their system, users own their own data, not Choicepoint. And yet recently, Friendster changed its user policy to state:

    Friendster owns and retains all proprietary rights in the Web site and the Service. The Web site contains the copyrighted material, trademarks, and other proprietary information of Friendster, and its licensors. Except for that information which is in the public domain or for which you have been given written permission, you may not copy, modify, publish, transmit, distribute, perform, display, or sell any such proprietary information.

I take this to mean they believe they own the collective data, and without clear personal data ownership laws, I suppose we are subject to this, unless there is a case or new law that changes this arrangment.

Danah Boyd of SIMS was in last Thursday's Circuits section (by Michael Erard), and Peter Lyman is quoted, too. The article discusses the social issues and analog metaphors Danah studies about FOAF networks. While our analog FOAF networks are subject to social norms we can see, touch and control in different ways than those online, there are interesting issues in connecting one person's data and network to the next. Collapsing the analog social norms causes problems, when people from one network you belong to can suddenly see another digitally, but there is also an issue which will probably arise more in the future, where the blending of many user's information, both personal and created, or personal networks, creates something new. It is digital media in the most personal of ways.

As mentioned before, how do you do the IP when "It's the collective I.Q. of the Internet coming to your aid," [said James C. Spohrer, director for services research at Almaden].

So, my father's FOAF network (analog, of course) is extensive. He keeps in touch, even in retirement, with thousands of people, via written correspondence through email and letters, and for 42 years, has maintained a handwritten spreadsheet organizing the 3-4k handwritten xmas cards he sends out to his friends each year (there are more in his network but they don't necessarily receive these cards, and also, my parents visit with many of these people regularly, scattered around the world, for various reasons that are now mostly social). I don't know that Friendster or LinkedIn, etc., clunky as they are now, could accomodate or make sense of the multiple reasons and associated meanings of his relationships, or what is possible between his connections through muliple networks. But I'm sure he's never thought about who owns his data and networks, and the shifts over time these networks have experienced, and the information linking they accomodate. I'm sure he would find it bizarre but also interesting to contemplate that using a FOAF network might require this, where using one might release control over his life's work as one of the most networked people I know.

Dave Weinberger on FOAFs, the privacy aspects, and funny ways we use these online networks: putting the shill into social or Leveraging Mere Acquaintanceships for Business Success since 2003.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)