Thursday, December 25, 2008

Detestable DRM

My son got a Sony Walkman S series for Christmas which, I have to say is a beautiful piece of kit. He's already had loads of fun with it.

But having played around with his new gadget for a while he wanted to put some decent video files on it and...

[rant] I idiotically suggested he have a go at some BBC iPlayer stuff. Well needless to say he got drm-ed and confused by dodgy licences and so asked dad for some advice. 3 and half hours of downloading, repeatedly uninstalling, re-installing Windows Media Player and iPlayer utilities, adjusting and readjusting drm and privacy settings (which incidentally had nothing to do with the Sony player) later, I finally gave up and re-engaged with the family.

None of the drm or spying utilities liked the custom installed settings on Windows Media Player and the default Microsoft and BBC setting seems to say if it is not completely open on the privacy front and completely locked up exactly as home base specifies on the drm front, it is suspicious and therefore should not be trusted and not play.

How can anyone believe that making these gadgets and media files and players deliberately incompatible is a bright idea? Not only is it detestable. It is plain stupid. [/rant]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Three men detained under anti-terrorist laws

Border and immigration control officials confirmed that three men claiming to be royalty and searching for the 'King of Kings' had been detained under the country's anti-terror laws this morning.

A spokeswoman said that a routine search of the men's belongings as they tried to enter the country had revealed suspicious packages containing gold and two suspicious resin like substances. She said:
"The detainees claimed that they were following a star. They further claimed that the "frankincense" and "myrrh", which could be burned to create incense, were gifts for an infant child who had been born to save the world ."
The Minister for the Interior declared:
"I am indeed incensed that these dangerous, foreign, religious, drug-crazed, terrorist nutters should attempt to target our innocent children on Christmas Eve.

The were clearly intent on blowing up children and shoppers endeavoring to save us from the credit crunch during the most important retailing celebrations of the year.

We have no doubt that the gold was to be used to buy the worst kind of scary bomb you could ever think of and set it off with those dangerous other combustible substances we found in the men's bags.

If only we could have made them carry biometric ID cards we could have caught them... er what was that boss? Oh er I mean if only we could have locked them up for 90 days... er 42 days... er 28 days... they'd never have threatened our innocent citizens. And if we'd just had all their DNA and fingerprints and emails and mobile phone data and health records and children's details and they could have worn a sign reading "I'm a terrorist" and ..."
The Minister didn't get to finish her statement as officials dragged her away at this point, since she had begun to roll her eyes and foam at the mouth.

It is thought that the three suspects have been locked in a dark cell, secured by the most sophisticated electronic locks ever devised and the key thrown away.

Unfortunately the key is already known to be widely available on the internet...

Civil rights campaigner, Lee Bertie (labeled as 'Lie Bertie Lie' by the government), has set up a website on behalf of the three men at

In other news a very bright object, which commentators are speculating may be a real flying saucer, has been spotted hovering over an old stable in downtown Bethlehem...

Best wishes to all my readers for the festive season and the New Year. :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

French Court OKs ''Les Miserables'' Sequels

On Friday the AP reported that a French court declared that two books written recently as sequels to Victor Hugo's 'Les Miserables', first published in 1862, were legitimate since Hugo's original was now in the public domain.
"Hugo's heirs had filed a suit in 2001 demanding euro685,000 ($955,000) in damages from author Francois Ceresa, who wrote the novels using the characters and style of ''Les Miserables.'' They also sought to ban the two books -- ''Cosette or The Time of Illusions'' and ''Marius or The Fugitive.''

The family had since reduced its claim to a symbolic one euro in damages and dropped the idea of outlawing the books.

The court said Friday that Hugo's novel was in the public domain, and Ceresa was therefore free to invent a sequel."

People who had no hand in creating Les Miserables, and whose only connection to it was that they were related to Victor Hugo, were attempting to prevent the use of the work as the basis of further creativity. Hugo himself once said, at the opening of the International Literary Congress in 1878,
A book belongs to the author, but ideas belong... to all mankind... If either of those rights, the right of the writer or the right of the human spirit, should be sacrificed, it is the right of the writer, because the public interest should be our sole concern
Hugo was one of the prime movers behind the drive for international respect and protection for the rights of the author in literary works. His efforts eventually led to the establishment of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886, which remains one of the key international instruments governing copyright in creative works to this day. He wholeheartedly believed in protecting the moral rights of authors and yet still recognised that those rights were trumped by the public interest, whenever they came into conflict with the public interest. I wonder what he would have made of his descendants' litigious activities.