Friday, September 11, 2009

Space-Time Travel Data is Analytic Super-Food!

Jeff Jonas has been thinking about all the data shadows we're leaving in our wake.
"It doesn’t matter who you say you are! Where you are (space), when you’re there (time), and your movements over time (travel) are closer to the truth. I’ve seen a lot of data in my life, and I’d like to think I have a decent grip on what can be accomplished with data and analytics. However, I recently stumbled upon some facts that have radically reshaped my understanding of the world we are living in. What I thought was years away is already here! Our toes are dangling over the edge of a very different future...

I can barely get my mind around the ramifications. My concept about what comes next shifts almost daily now. A government not so keen on free speech could use such data to see a crowd converging towards a protest site and respond before the swarm takes form – detected and preempted, this protest never happens. Or worse, it could be used to understand and then undermine any political opponent.

A stalker might be questioned just days after he starts and before his victim is personally aware of it – detection previously beyond human capacity. Maybe it’s not a crime in this case, and it turns out to be just a private investigator with poor tradecraft hired by a suspicious husband.

Such a surveillance intensive future is inevitable, irreversible and as I have said before here … irresistible.

Why? Companies must be competitive to survive and consumers have quite the appetite for almost anything that optimizes their life, especially if it’s cheap or free...

I think people should know about this imminent new age we are marching into."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

US Copyright chief has serious concerns about Google Book settlement

The head of the U.S. Copyright Office has reportedly told a congressional committee that she has serious concerns about the Google book settlement. She suggested that parts of the settlement were "fundamentally at odds with the law."

Update: Here's her statement.
And the NYT on same.
And the 1709 blog.

Copyright trumps censorship in South Korea

From the 1709 blog:
"The authors of A Modern and Contemporary History of Korea have successfully sued their publisher for copyright infringement for publishing an altered version of the work. The publisher had been repeatedly ordered to revise ‘leftist’ sections by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology under the Elementary and Middle School Education Law. The Hankyoreh reports that ‘the court said that while this law could be used to order a suspension of publication if an alteration order is violated, it cannot be used to limit the right to the integrity of the work by the publisher’. The alterations have been the subject of a campaign by history teachers."
"An article in The Times suggests that Wordsworth Editions has secured an amazing coup by getting Stephen Joyce, James Joyce’s heir, to agree to a new budget edition of Ulysses. The article fails to mention that Joyce (1882–1941) is revived copyright, so anyone can publish Ulysses without Stephen Joyce’s permission so long as they cough up a reasonably royalty. OUP probably don’t pay any royalties to the Joyce estate on their edition as it was first published in 1993, after Joyce went out of copyright but before he came back in. The problem with publishing a budget edition of Ulysses may not be so much agreeing terms with the copyright owner as other costs – it’s long and notes are a must. For copyright owners like Stephen Joyce who are as concerned about controlling the manner of publication as seeing a financial return revived copyright is a small consolation."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Boyle: copyright black hole swallows our culture

James Boyle's latest article in the FT focuses on the Google Books settlement, which he explains would not be necessary if copyright law wasn't in such a mess. (The article is also available on his blog, where I first picked it up via my news feed reader).
"Librarians call it the 20th-century black hole. The overwhelming force is not gravity but copyright law, sucking our collective culture into a vortex from which it can never escape.

That culture includes millions of books Google wants to make available online. But many are concerned. The European Commission will hold hearings on Monday, while a US judge has extended the deadline for objections to a proposed US legal settlement."

James explains the key problems with the Google books settlement - Google's monopoly over commercially unavailable works and the index to all online books, lack of facility to download books, Google's ability to monitor your reading in unprecedented detail, lack of privacy protections etc. He goes on to conclude:
"What if the critics prevail and no settlement is reached? I would prefer us to fix copyright law so these issues disappear. But if we cannot do that, we need a second-best solution. Google’s escape module has flaws, lots of them, but it is better than staying in the black hole."
The day after the article appeared the EU Commission had their hearing and decided to oppose the Google Book settlement. James Boyle is scathing about their analysis:
"There are good reasons to worry about the Google Book Search Settlement, as I explained at length here. But of all of the reasons to oppose it, this utterly surreal statement is my favourite.

European officials fear that if the Google project goes ahead in the US, a yawning transatlantic gap will open up in education and research.

“Oh my God! The Americans are about to create a private workaround of the enormous mess that we regulators have made of national copyright policy! They will fix the unholy legal screwups that leave most of the books of 20th century culture unavailable, yet still under copyright! They will gain access to their cultural heritage — giving them a huge competitive advantage in education. This MUST BE STOPPED!! No one can be allowed to fix this for any other country because then we would be left alone stewing in our own intellectual property stupidity! We must forbid their progress in order to protect our ignorance.”

But wait, there’s more. If anyone does do it, it must be the state! (Which so far has failed completely to provide legal access to orphan works or commercially unavailable works, works that are unavailable because of… wait for it, wait for it, the state locking up our cultural heritage unnecessarily)"

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tax Payers Alliance 'Big Brother Watch'

Via Spyblog:
"The Sunday Times carries this interesting announcement by the TaxPayers' Alliance, of a new campaign called "Big Brother Watch".

Their website currently states that this is due to launch in October.

The fight against the "surveillance state" is obviously necessary, but what exactly can this new campaign achieve, that the existing campaign groups could not do just as well, or much better, if they had some more money ?


Why exactly should Spy Blog, or anybody else who cares about these issues, support Yet Another Campaign Organisation rather than existing ones like:

etc. etc.