Friday, September 05, 2003

Fox outfoxed? From Fox News - "Judge Rejects Fox News' Request for Injunction on Franken Book." A 'fair and balanced' Fox News report on the judge's decision to throw out their case. Author Franken and publishers Penguin are pretty pleased with the publicity.

The BBC are planning to open their archive to the public. "Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, has announced plans to give the public full access to all the corporation's programme archives."
"The service, the BBC Creative Archive,
would be free and available to
everyone, as long as they were not
intending to use the material for
commercial purposes, Mr Dyke added."

"Open-source software maker MontaVista Software is advising customers not to pay any money to The SCO Group" The SCO website has been brought down be a denial of service attack. This is completely counter productive to the aims of the open source community and will only provide ammunition to people who want to discredit them. Eric Raymond put it pretty well: "We're the good guys. But that doesn't matter if we aren't *seen* to be the good guys. We cannot fight our war using vandalism and trespass and the suppression of speech, or SCO will paint us as crackers and maybe win."

"New DVD-copying tools to hit shelves"

Towards the end of August the California Supreme court ruled in favour of the DVD Content Control Association in their case against Andrew Bunner for posting DeCSS code on the Net. Essentially they said that requiring Bunner to respect the DVDCCA's trade secret was not an interference with his right to free speech under the first amendment. The decision has been going back and forth on this as it has worked its way through the courts. Just one, relatively old, question: how is CSS now a trade secret when DeCSS has been so widely distributed? That, at least, remains to be seen, as the Supreme Court has sent the case back to the lower appeal court to determine if Bunner has violated any trade secrets. Cindy Cohen of the EFF (who are supporting Bunner) seems confident of the outcome on that: “The appeals court can now examine the movie industry's fiction that DeCSS is still a secret and that a publication ban is necessary to keep the information secret". Having reflected on the detail of the decision the EFF and the First Amendment Project are even spinning it in a very positive fashion.

The UK government are proposing to set up a database on children, including a listing of their potential criminality. Odd that the usual suspects in the media have not rallied against it. As Ian Brown of Foundation for Information Policy Research says, "Imagine if the government proposed creating a database of "potential troublemakers" that covered 10% of the adult population, based upon the opinions of doctors, social workers or policemen..."

Off topic but Escaped murderers refused return

"When a Hopkins computer scientist declared a new breed of electronic voting machinery to be junk, he cracked open a wide and costly debate."

CAPPS Navigates Unfriendly Skies

Bill Clinton's former privacy czar, Peter Swire, is concerned at the privacy implications of the RIAA's campaign to target individual file sharers. Greplaw have and interview with Glenn Peterson who is representing the woman fighting to keep her identity a secret from the RIAA.

"However, the music industry is pursuing music piracy with strong
arm tactics and subpoena powers that far exceed those available
against violent criminals. It is astounding to me that the law bends
over backward to safeguard the constitutional rights of accused
criminals and then completely ignores the same rights of teenage
kids sharing music in an environment they have every reason to
believe is legal. It is important for me to stress that we do not
condone music piracy or copyright infringement. What we want
to do is clarify what qualifies as music piracy and further to
ensure that the so-called accused pirates have the same minimal
constitutional rights that we afford to those accused of doing
much more serious and harmful things than sharing music...

Arguably the most dangerous consequence, the
subpoena power can be put in the hands of anyone willing to
pretend to have a copyright claim. Without a judge's review,
these fraudulent requests are easily passed of as legitimate
ones, passing under only the minimum, ministerial scrutiny
of a court clerk with a rubber stamp. The potential abuser
categories are limitless, and include everything from
annoying marketers to swindlers, child abductors,
blackmailers, and terrorists

The RIAA are not giving up on Peterson's client (Nycfashiongirl) or on MIT. They've sent a second subpoena filed in the local jurisdiction of Massachusetts, to get the alleged file sharer on the MIT network identified. Looks like the RIAA and the movie studios are gaining some allies in their fight with Streamcast and Grokster too, with amicus briefs coming from Harvard and NYU professors as well as expected sources such as "copyright holders ranging from Major League Baseball to the Screen Actors Guild. "

The Conservative Party in the UK, the remains of Margaret Thatcher's tories, actually want to shut down the BBC website, according to a report in the Guardian. I won't comment to avoid being impolite.

A group of economists are critical of the proposed Directive on the Patentability of
Computer-Implemented Inventions.

SCO deny they have any plans to sue commercial linux users.

David Blunkett is determined to press ahead with his national identity card in spite of Blair backing awaying from it. He's planning a test run later in the year in a 'small market town'. Cryptome have a copy of a WSJ article on A New Battleground In Web Privacy War: Ads That Can Snoop

Naomi Klein has taken a poke at the international franchise that is the War on Terror.

From The Register Want to visit Britain? Join the fingerprint queue

The MPAA are going after the 321 Studios folk in the UK alledging breach of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

Sharman Networks which owns Kazaa have complained to Google about copyright infringement. In response Google pulled the links to the KAzaa imitator complained of, for fear of the DMCA falling on their heads.

Protests on the EU sofware patent issue have delayed the vote in the European Parliament under later this month.

Freenet creator Ian Clarke has decided to leave the US partly due to the restrictive intellectual property laws.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I'm way behind with everything, for which I apologise, but some of the following from the past couple of weeks may be of some interest.

"But as technology in general, and the Internet in particular, drives deeper into the fabric of daily life, battles also rage behind the scenes. They are struggles for control over how the Internet should work, over who sets the rules for its pipes and gateways and who owns the material that moves through them. These are the wars fought with armies of corporate lobbyists, technologists and citizen activists but largely ignored by the general public. And none is larger, or carries higher financial stakes, than the issue with the eye-glazing name of intellectual property." Said the Washington Post on 21st August (when I was away) in an article about the lobbying to kill a proposed meeting on open source development to be hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

Dave Farber's interesting people list has more information on WIPO backing away from this meeting.

The city of Tampa (having finally won the Superbowl for the first time earlier this year) are dropping a face recognition system after a two year trial during which nobody was positively identified.

I see the Linux community are less than impressed with SCO's - so far - publicly presented evidence of intellectual property infringement. The examples are apparently code from the 1970's which is covered by a BSD licence which allows sharing of code. You've got to say this is a nice example of open and collaborative development in action - like the linux folk 'Dear SCO, I wouldn't use this code as the foundation of your case as you are likely to get laughed out of court' At least they've had the opportunity to try out some their evidence before using it in anger.

SCO's lawyer, at least, seems grateful for the tip: "Let's say you have a hundred files, and you put one of your hundred files under the GPL (GNU General Public License). That doesn't mean you've lost the rights to your other 99 files," Heise said. "So I don't think it's going to have an impact."

Tescos have ended their trial with the RFID chips linked to hidden cameras at their Cambridge store.

Somebody thinks that John Ashcroft's road show to promote the PATRIOT Act is funny.

File swapper fights RIAA subpoena. And the RIAA's tactics may be having an impact on file swapping with the volume being reduced since they decided to target individuals.

The RIAA and MPAA are, not surprisingly, appealing the April decision in favour of Grokster and Streamcast, where the judge declared that the p2p file sharing technologies were not illegal and were, in fact, analagous to home video recorders.

If this report is to be believed, SCO are taking a leaf out of the RIAA's book and going after individual linux users. The chances are that they are still talking about companies with deep pockets rather than individuals.