Thursday, July 08, 2004

Larry Lessig has some interesting background to the INDUCE act and how confusion over copyright reigns in Congress.
Just came across an Microsoft reader e-book version of the US Constitution. Amazon say it can't be printed but one of the reviewers say that the license permits it to be printed twice a year. That's funny.
The IHT is suggesting the EU's software patent policy is "under seige."
Ben Hammersley at The Guardian looks at the issue of EU software patents in an accessible piece.

On the copyright front, those aggravated by Michael Moore's latest film, Farenheit 9/11, are suggesting a distributed Net based critique of the entire film in small chunks.

"The internet is filling up with point by point exposes of Michael Moore’s deceptions. (See for instance MooreWatch, fahrenheitfact, and various reviews.) Would it be legal to compile these Fiskings into a filmic refutation of Fahrenheit 9/11, using the same video feeds that Moore uses, and some of his own footage? Would it be “fair use” to in effect take clips from Fahrenheit, replace Moore’s narration with honest narration, and run the modified clips side by side with the originals?

Perhaps the effort could be decentralized, with lots of people or little groups of people each putting together individual snippets. Surely fair use allows a person to put together one little comparison piece."

Michael Moore is on record as saying he doesn't mind people downloading his film as long as they are not making a profit out of it because he didn't like the state of intellectual property laws. I'm not sure that this was what he had in mind though.

I'm no fan of soundbite propaganda from any part of the political spectrum and that's one of the nice things about the Net - it's potential as a tool for reasoned argument and not just a point by point propaganda based dissection of an opponents' arguments. Sadly the temptation is to run with the unfair advocacy tactics rather than reasoned arguments because so many of us can be persuaded in that way. Mr Moore's film is only really likely to further convince President Bush's opponents that they still don't like him and convince Mr Bush's supporters that they don't like Mr Moore. It would be significantly more useful if either side focussed on enlightenment rather than playing to the mob.

Monday, July 05, 2004

For copyfighters - Ernest Miller is continuing his hatchet job on the INDUCE (now IICA) act at his Importance of... weblog. INDUCE and the DMCA, small businesses, RIAA lawsuits against individuals, Finlaw survey on same, derivative works et al. Ernest is on a roll and when someone this smart and sensible gets this worked up, it is worth taking notice.
The EFF want to scupper the broadcast flag. Any devices created in advance of the regulation coming into effect, which can bypass the technical restrictions engendered by the broadcast flag, will still be legal afterwards. So the EFF are encouraging the creation of so many such devices with so many better features than technology that will be required to be approved, that the market for the latter will just not exist. This could be usefully called the Charles Nesson approach - don't complain about what "they" are doing to the potential of the technology, just gets lots of people using it creatively.

"Today, you can use any device you like with your television: VCR, TiVo, DVD recorder, home theater receiver, or a PC combining these functions and more. A year from now, when the FCC's broadcast flag mandate [PDF] takes effect, some of those capabilities will be forbidden.

Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring future digital television (DTV) tuners to include "content protection" (aka DRM) technologies. Starting next year, all makers of HDTV receivers must build their devices to watch for a broadcast "flag" embedded in programs by copyright holders. When it comes to digital recording, it'll be Hollywood's DRM way or the highway. Want to burn that recording digitally to a DVD to save hard drive space? Sorry, the DRM lock-box won't allow it. How about sending it over your home network to another TV? Not unless you rip out your existing network and replace it with DRMd routers. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high definition digital signal, doesn't it?

The good news is this mandate doesn't take effect for another year. We have until July 1, 2005, to buy, build, and sell fully-capable, non-flag-compliant HDTV receivers. Any receivers built now will "remain functional under a flag regime, allowing consumers to continue their use without the need for new or additional equipment." [PDF] Any devices made this year can be re-sold in the future."