Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bush cartoon cut

The Chicago Tribune decided to drop a cartoon about George Bush because the "strip presents inaccurate information as fact."

Grokster Respondents Briefs Submitted Today says Derek.

The Engadget Interview: Elliott D. Frutkin, CEO of TimeTrax. Recommended.

"TimeTrax is software that lets you turn your PC into a TiVo for satellite radio. Veteran journalist J.D. Lasica spoke with CEO Elliott Frutkin about the upstart startup’s prospects, its diffident relationship with the RIAA, the future of music subscription services, and whether the recording of satellite transmissions will be outlawed.

Tell me your backstory. I understand TimeTrax was created by Scott Maclean, a lone programmer in Toronto who didn’t like missing cool radio broadcasts in the dead of night.

I found out about TimeTrax the way other people did, through an online tech news roundup. Scott wrote an app to record a Blondie concert that was on in the middle of the night. There turned out to be tons of interest in it. He posted it and it was hugely popular and people started asking him to add new features. He decided to spend more time on the software and start selling it for $19.99, and it just kept growing. I then got in touch with Scott and we put together a deal to formulate a business around TimeTrax...

What kind of DRM do you use?

We don’t want to encourage people to distribute what they capture with TimeTrax over the Internet, so we encode the satellite signal into each recording that’s made, with a specific identifier for each user. Besides that, we don’t have any other restrictions on what people can do with their recording. We just want to encourage people to be responsible, and yet not punish them at the same time.

That sounds perfectly reasonable. Are you insane? What if this catches on?

You know, this approach takes the responsibility off us in a certain way and puts it on the user, where it belongs. We’ve shared our methodology with Sirius and XM and told them, if you find users who are violating your copyright you can take them to court or unsubscribe them."

Time Trax brings the functionality of VCRs to radio and is much more important a development, IMHO, than even Napster in its heyday.

Ed Felten on Computer Science Professors' Brief in Grokster

"Today, seventeen computer science professors (including me) are filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Grokster case. Here is the summary of our argument, quoted from the brief:

Amici write to call to the Court's attention several computer science issues raised by Petitioners [i.e., the movie and music companies] and amici who filed concurrent with Petitioners, and to correct certain of their technical assertions. First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based. Second, a P2P network design, where the work is done by the end user's machine, is preferable to a design which forces work (such as filtering) to be done within the network, because a P2P design can be robust and efficient. Third, because of the difficulty in designing distributed networks, advances in P2P network design -- including BitTorrent and Respondents' [i.e., Grokster's and Streamcast's] software -- are crucial to developing the next generation of P2P networks, such as the NSF-funded IRIS Project. Fourth, Petitioners' assertion that filtering software will work fails to consider that users cannot be forced to install the filter, filtering software is unproven or that users will find other ways to defeat the filter. Finally, while Petitioners state that infringers' anonymity makes legal action difficult, the truth is that Petitioners can obtain IP addresses easily and have filed lawsuits against more than 8,400 alleged infringers. Because Petitioners seek a remedy that will hobble advances in technology, while they have other means to obtain relief for infringement, amici ask the Court to affirm the judgment below."

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