Friday, October 17, 2003

Ubersoft is quite funny on the subject of the RIAA's amnesty for music downloaders.
The RIAA have apparently sent out a new pile of letters threatening lawsuits. AT the same time the EFF have released a cartoon on the subject. Amusing.

DanGilmore is concerned that the broadcast flag mandate is about to come to fruition. He makes a strong case. And, as Ernest Miller says, "Any rule that mandates DRM is giving too much control to the entertainment industry."
I see Governor Howard Dean, who is running for president in the US has put together a "dream team" to advise him on information policy. Good for him. Mind you I could see him getting on the wrong side of the media moguls, the entertainment industry, the publishing industry and the telecommunications industry if he decides to actually take the advice of these folks, who include Hal Abelson, Larry Lessig, Laura Breeden, Bob Lucky, Dewayne Hendricks, Joi Ito, David Reed, Richard Rowe, David Weinberger. That could be fun!

Given the serious committment of the members of the group to end to end architecture and open networks, the relentless commercial drive to lock up the choke points of our communication infrastructures may well start to to hit some speed bumps! But then, I don't suppose there is a particularly high probably that the governor will get elected?

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Salon have another worrying article by Farhad Manjoo on the current problems with electronic voting.

" Over the past several years, as computer
scientists began expressing concerns about the security of touch-
screen electronic voting machines, elections officials across the
nation have reassured the public with a simple answer: Testing...

But Jeremiah Akin, a 28-year-old computer programmer who
recently observed one of these tests in Riverside County, Calif.,
says that what he saw did nothing to mitigate his concerns about
electronic voting -- indeed, the whole thing made him more worried
than ever."

Ernest Miller from Yale has a new blog called 'The Importance of'. From the biography,

"Ernest Miller - Just some guy who likes to think about the intersection of law and technology.

If you're curious about "The Importance Of" - please see any bibliography of Oscar Wilde."

Now Ernest Miller is more than 'just some guy' who likes to think about law and technology. He's one of the smartest people in the field. So this is another blog that gets added to my list of links.

And from Ernest, I learn that one of the cases that got me really interested in cyberlaw, the Dan Bernstein v DOJ cryptography export case, has finally come to an end. It has been dismissed by the judge due to a DOJ promise not to pursue cryptography researchers. Ernest says:

"The case has gone through many permutations and
procedural twists. It has certainly resulted in changes to government regulations such that encryption software is much less
tightly controlled than it once was. More importantly, the case has been one of the main sources for several once novel legal
arguments, particularly those establishing that computer code is speech protected by the First Amendment."

SunnComm's CEO Peter Jacobs has been complaining about his lot and his complaints have been dissected over at Greplaw and by Derek. I understand why Mr Jacobs is angry - I probably would be too if I was CEO of a company that had $10 million wiped off its share price overnight. But it is usually a good idea, when you find yourself in a hole, to stop digging.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Terrific article by Megan Gray - Confessions of a Copyright Enforcer - which throws a sharp light on the DMCA subpoena process.
Rager Parloff offered his usual sympathetic thoughts to the concerns of the entertainment industry over file sharing recently in Fortune Magazine. The article does a nice job of explaining the relationships between FasTrack, Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, Gnutella, Sharman Networks and Streamcast. Morpheus, for example, decided to move to Gnutella after a dispute with Kazaa got them locked out of the FasTrack network.
Amy Harmon at The New York Times has done a nice piece on the pricing of music downloads, What Price Music? She quotes Doug Morris, chairman of Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company:

"This is much bigger than the CD. The CD and the LP and the cassette were all packaged goods. This is about
being able to find all the world's music in one store — a Professor Longhair record, a Benny Goodman record. Where are you
going to find that in a record store now?"

Looks like at least one of the labels is finally getting its act together. It's impossible to say what the long term effect on the music business will be but Morris thinks there will be an increase in overall sales. Nice to see some optimism from such a source.

The NYT also did a nice profile a few days ago of the guys that created Kazaa and their latest adventures with VoIP service Skype. Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis see VoIP having a seismic affect on traditional telephone companies. The article suggests MCI in the US are planning a complete switch to VoIP by 2005. Interesting.

Back to the music business and specifically the RIAA's targetting of file sharers, the EFF seem to have found someone else who has been falsely accused:

"The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier
Foundation on Monday asked lawyers for three
record labels to drop their suit against 35-year-old
Web site designer Ross Plank, asserting that he is the
second target of 261 high-profile suits who is the
victim of mistaken identity. "

Sunday, October 12, 2003

An FCC Commissioner who gets it, according to Larry Lessig. This paper from Michael Copps is spot on and not the kind of insight you come to expect from officialdom. Good for you Mr Copps.