February 27, 2004
Will This Case Add More Fuel to the Fire for Database Protection?

I wonder if this case, and the decision in favor of Berkshire Information Systems against competitor, Inquiry Management Systems, won't cause more support for HR 3261. That's the bill that would make up a whole new sort of intellectual property protection for databases, and is...

    backed by big database companies like Reed Elsevier and Thomson but opposed by Amazon.com, AT&T, Comcast, Google, Yahoo and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce....
    If IMS had won on its DMCA arguments and if the decision had been upheld on appeal, the case would have significantly expanded the scope of legal protection that database owners enjoy.

Let's not allow the bill to pass that would significantly expand the scope of legal protection that database owners enjoy.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 24, 2004
321 Studios

Last Friday, 321 Studios was told by the Northern District Court to stop selling their ripping software, and earlier today they emailed this (I purchased a copy of their software to backup my DVD collection incase of damage or loss, as many of them are obscure collectables):

Dear 321 Studios Customers & Friends,

As many of you may have already heard, Judge Illston of the Northern District of California Court ruled against us last Friday and in favor of the movie studios. This is the first major decision in the six lawsuits in which we are now involved.

Her ruling included an injunction preventing us from continuing to sell the current version of our popular DVDXCOPY software if it included a ripper. This injunction takes effect 7 days from her order. While we do not agree with the rationale behind the decision, we intend to fully comply with the order and, at the same time, file an appeal and ask her to stay the injunction pending the appeal.

This decision is unfortunate news for us. However, we expected the fight for fair use rights to be a long one when we initiated it almost two years ago. We also expected to face great opposition and to take some hits along the way. Well, we are still here and are not going out of business. Starting next week, well sell ripper-free versions of DVDXCOPY as well as all our other popular titles including DVDXSHOW, DVDXMAKER and DVDXPOINT.

If youd like to read Judge Illstons decision or articles written about us, please go to our web site at http://www.321studios.com. If youd like to offer your support, please visit http://www.protectfairuse.org. Meanwhile, we are making every effort to continue to support you and your 321 products.

Please share this news with your friends and family. We can use all the support we can get to continue fighting for everyones fair use rights in todays digital world.

Thank you for your ongoing support,
The 321 Studios Team.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 22, 2004
Anonymous Speech and the Internet

Dan Gillmor in today's column talks about issues of credibility with this kind of speech and the effects it has on our discourse in blogs and more generally on the web, as we evaluate what people say for trust and authenticity (and bIPlog is mentioned). Anonymous speech is very important, because people who would otherwise not comment out of fear of job or other repercussions, can because they are able to do so anonymously.

But there have been instances here and elsewhere, where people have intentionally hidden their identities, commenting on things across this blog and others, as they pretend to be people different than who they are, to gain credibility with other readers and commenters. That kind of speech is problematic, because it is intentionally dishonest. On the back end of the blogs, the owner can see that it's probably the same person, but on the front end, readers are fooled into thinking that, for example, there are several different commenters when there is actually one.

It's a difficult issue, because we want to leave open the possibility that people who are legitimately fearful can speak, but we also want to be clear with those we converse with on this blog that anonymous comments are actually anonymous and therefore must be scrutinized differently than those from people who post their real names. Being willing to stand up and state who you are, let others scrutinize your biases and background, and say what you think should be encouraged because it makes our discourse stronger, better, and more reliable and useful, while at the same time allowing anonymous speech. Telling the difference is key, and we have to work on better tools and communication to do this on the web.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 12, 2004
BitTorrent: Phase III of File Sharing


Seth Schiesel/NYTimes says Bram Cohen's BitTorrent represents the next wave for file sharing. BitTorrent is an amazing way to distribute huge files, using P2P to spread out the bandwidth across users. I tried it last summer, in an experiment to see how it worked. The process was tricky, and I don't think impatient or inexperienced users would find it easy, and the fact that it took 36 hours to download one 2 gb file was not attractive. However, it will become more attractive in the future, as people get true broadband connections, and have equal speeds moving data up and down (most home users have midband connections, where there is often double the speed downloading, as opposed to uploading, which speaks to the ways BB providers view "consumers" which is as receptacles, who therefore need mostly down speeds, where up really only for email, right? I mean, you don't think you really need to send anything else out from your system do you? If so, you must be a business user and therefore, get on a different BB plan...).

BitTorrent works by having every downloader's system simultaneously work as an uploading system (you can stop uploading when you are finished downloading, but you can't not upload while your download is in process). Since this is the case, slow uploading speeds mean your whole transfer is slower than if you were just downloading. These files are called seeders. One example of BitTorrent use might be by a software company, with webbased distribution, that wanted to make available it's programs on either a trial or free basis. Another might be a digital library or academic institution that wanted to distribute large research files or databases of information and graphics.

At the Digital Media Summit in NY the other day, Charlie Nesson, Director of the Berkman Center at Harvard, presented a system where "Interdiction" might be used as a form of self-help by content makers to disrupt the transmission of copyrighted media files. His logo was a crow (or what looked like a crow) with a long black beak, holding a seed.

This system would work to the find a middle ground between a DRM/IP regime lockdown, and what Nesson referred to as a "disaster" for the content industry, though I would argue that movies/TV/Cable are different that other media, and each media needs to be considered on it's own, when thinking about these issues. In fact, I think that low quality video files are considered to be of just-okay quality for people wanting a quick glance at content, and so they may download something on one of these networks, but that people really want the big rich high quality screen experience, hence video's inability to kill the experience or desire by people to go out to see a big screen movie, and people aalso love watching DVD's on plasma, because of the rich experience... downloaded files on little screens are just not nice in that way. Imagine watching Lord of the Rings on a five inch screen. But as bandwidth grows, it will become more of an issue, but what if these little files are loss leaders to entice people into the theaters, to buy DVD's or high quality downloads with interesting value added stuff?

The Interdiction system is designed to be a speed bump for those who would pirate, and for those who have more money than time, and would otherwise pay for their files (the system is associated with Scenario Three of the Harvard/G2 Five Scenarios for Digital Media in a post Napster world paper) . It is a form of competition for online digital media that is freely shared, so that the Interdiction would come when something is offered, and instead of a denial of service attack (another form of self-help that ties up an entire system or network, discussed by the incumbent content companies that is an illegal means for stopping filesharing), Interdiction would send a message to a seeder to take down the file and it could tie up just the seeds (not a seeder's whole system) so that no one could download. Nesson talked about a "new release" window to keep the market pristine for selling the content.

I found BitTorrent to be a really interesting system, one that could be so powerful for exchanging information, distributing files without centralization (where the distributor has to pay all the bandwidth costs, verses distributing the distribution costs as well across users), but one that needs work before the general public (those beyond the geeks) can use it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
Cory Doctorow Talk about eBooks at eTech

where he just announced that Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom, his first novel, is available, as of today, under a Creative Commons No Right's Reserved license. His new book, Eastern Standard Tribe is now available for download under a Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved license.

Cool. I love No Rights Reserved.

Update 021404: here's a txt file of Cory's eTech talk yesterday. Also, the talk is No Right's Reserved, but the Down and Out Novel is actually ALMOST no rights reserved (yesterday I thought he said it was the novel, not the talk itself, that was under a CC, NNR). The novel it is actually available with this license:

    the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, which explicitly allows anyone in the world to make any non-commercial adaptation of my book s/he can think of: translations, radio plays, movies, sequels, fanfic, slashfic...you get the picture
Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 07, 2004
Wifi Etiquete by The Ethicist

Tomorrow's NYTimes has Randy Cohen/The Ethicist (sorry, no userland link on this one, so see below) starting off with a letter from Siona Listokin of Berkeley asking about "borrowing" the neighbor's wifi. Mr. Manners responds that it's polite to ask consent to use, and offer to pitch in for the cost. But Mike Godwin of Public Knowledge is quoted and the various issues are discussed about using wifi, what ISP's terms of service say verses what is fair, and whether those TOS's stifle innovation.

The conclusion:

    ... you may use but not overuse Wi-Fi hot spots you encounter.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
February 06, 2004
The Accountable Net: Using Peer Production for Governance

Last night, I attended the Yale-ISP/Harvard-Berkman Cyberscholars Group. John Palfrey, David Johnson, and Susan Crawford presented The Accountable Net. It's a paper they haven't yet published, but when it is, we'll blog it. However, the discussion was quite lively, giving the presenters suggestions about areas they might fill in regarding spam, informational privacy, and network security, using peer governance to try to control particular kinds of unwanted behavior. We discussed using social networks, individual's use of their outgoing email boxes, online communities such as blogs and other linked groups, among other definitions of acceptable groups for communications, both practically and theoretically, and whether or not these definitions could work to deter certain kinds of behavior, verses traditional kinds of control and law. People were skeptical, but also supportive, and the discussion seemed to further their work on the paper.

I suggested that when considering social networks, they consider that people have many different kinds of links to people they "know" and that they are very clunky, and may not give the sort of trust or endorsement that trusted online communications need to rely on, and that maybe other means might work better.

Eddan Katz, Derek Slater and James Grimmelman were there, and I met Nimrod Kozlovski (who said, so you're stationed in Berkeley... I said if the people of Berkeley only knew that....) and Shlomit Wagman, and later that night at a party, Paul Szynol, all of whom were Lawmeme writers. Also, Susan Crawford is very lively and a lot of fun. It was great to see people and hang out after. And of course, Yale Law School, actually all of Yale, is lovely, freshly dusted with snow, and then it snowed again in the middle of the night. Just beautiful.

(ps, I wrote this on Friday, but was unable to post it until Sunday, because my hotel's DSL seems to have some issue with publishing on MT, though most everything else works.)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 03, 2004
Ernie Miller Moves

...to Corante. Note the change in the blogroll. Nice look.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 02, 2004
Charlie Brown Remix.


Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)