Week in Review for 1/25/2009

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  • IFPI says 95% of downloads are illegal
    Techdirt’s Masnick points out exactly what is so ridiculous about the IFPI’s claims, just how many regular internet users would absolutely have had to download illegally for their claims to be true. The claim is laughable on the face of it but Masnick, as well as a linked Ars piece, show up any number of other contradictions within the report.
  • Isle of Man gets blanket, unlimited music license for downloading
    Nate Anderson has the details at Ars, details worth taking some time to consider. It does show a bit of enlightened leadership by the Manx, the admission that fighting piracy is not entirely worth the cost, regardless of the merits of blanket licenses. It should be an interesting experiment and among the larger ones with that particular idea, of an ISP mediated fee for all you can eat downloads.
  • Downturn harder on team players, “nice” engineers
    ITManagement’s Spiegel tells a disheartening story of ruthlessness and in my opinion very poor leadership winning out over consideration and support of those being led. I like to think that what goes around, comes around. I also think that in this case, one that hits way too close to home, if the higher up manager was so easily persuaded to overlook the long term happiness of the lower level employees, then perhaps they and their middle manager were better off despite the poor job market.
  • Dutch study shows file sharing has positive effects
    Ars’ Biejnum teases out the two more interesting elements of this study, over similar studies which explain how free content has value. First that the sampling effect, at least for music, can encourage more purchases over all. Second that while the content makers may suffer, the savings by consumers gets spent elsewhere in the economy to good effect for the whole.
  • Whitehouse.gov third party content is under CC-BY license
    CC’s Benenson shares the notice on the new whitehouse.gov site that others have also noticed. This, at least, is consistent with the Obama administrations’ rhetoric about open government and continuing to use the tools they used to good effect during the election campaign.
  • Skepticism for broadband stimulus
    NYT’s Hansell has a certain point, is the question one of access or competition? I don’t agree with his implication that the existing infrastructure is good enough to meet open access standards. What his piece suggests, though, is that we pay attention and make sure that the stimulus is used to best effect, to avoid a special interests grab as much as possible.
  • Objections to broadband stimulus conditions
    Unlike the NYT piece, these complains come from the committee chair responsible for marking up the bill. I agree with his concern over the speed of the proceedings. But I also concur with Nate’s remarks in this Ars piece that the Representative is too quick to throw out any kind of conditions that might result in the most public good rather than just a huge private subsidy with no guarantees of improvements for consumers. I don’t know how credible Barton’s fear that the Speaker will yank the bill actually are versus the possibility of more time and deliberation.
  • New animation, 3D capabilities for Firefox
    Ryan Paul gives a good overview at Ars on a couple of experimental additions to Firefox. I have to wonder if this will fair better than past attempts, like VRML. Admittedly, VRML was for a much more specific use, for rendering 3D worlds. These two technologies seem more general purpose so may gain better traction.
  • Sweden considering criminalizing file sharing
    This is still very tentative, really just a judicial review. It is unfortunately consistent with moves elsewhere, like early drafts of Pro-IP. Masnick also points out the inconsistencies with Swedish labels finding their own way to live with file sharing.
  • New Google site for JS code sharing, experimentation
    This short ReadWriteWeb piece singles out the point, that this Google effort helps lower the barrier to learning Google’s specific JS API’s and provides a nice sandbox for playing around before adopting these technologies for real project.
  • Adobe to open messaging protocol
    Slashdot links to an InfoQ piece that read as little more than a press release. I am for opening of platforms and protocols but this appears to be more of a mind share move in an increasingly competitive space. I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen actual 3rd party implementers weigh in.
  • White House exempts embedded YouTube from existing privacy rules
    Soghoian has the details, including an update. The issue is a conflict beteween YouTube’s persistent tracking and a long standing federal rule prohibiting that very behavior. Initially the administration exempted the video service but now appears to have implemented a somewhat better privacy preserving compromise by requiring the duration of tracking cookies to only users actually playing a video.
  • Patent reform as economic stimulus
    I like Neil McAllister’s thinking here. I think it meshes well with what I’ve heard Eben Moglen say about how patents are more appropriate where available brain power is limited, a historical stage we’ve moved well past.
  • Crowd sourcing the detection of network filtering
    A good, quick description of the Herdict project by Mehan at PK. I first heard about this project from Jonathan Zittrain. He mentions it in his book but expands on it in his talks. It looks like the project could really use more participants to better reach its goal of mapping out content filters around the internet. There is even a Firefox extension to make participation easier.
  • New Microsoft music service resuscitates DRM
    Despite the move away from DRM by most of the industry, the fact that Microsoft is holding out is hardly surprising. For them, this is all about lock-in, no doubt about it. Still, you think they would have learned something with the hue and cry over their attempt to take down their older, existing key servers last year.
  • Majority of those without broadband don’t want it
    This is based on a new Pew study, according Nate at Ars. I cannot say I am surprised however I think this needs to be balanced against the growing reverse network effect. More government services are moving only and it is not hard to imagine them pulling up stakes offline to save costs. It does speak to existing services being more responsive to complaints of difficulty of use.
  • Wikipedia contemplating more limits
    This Bits piece by Cohen is a good explanation, pointing out how this is really a deferment of edits by anonymous users, not a complete shutdown. He also nicely ties it to other tools and policies that Wikipedia has already used to combat vandalism in the past.
  • UMD researchers demonstrate improvements in quantum teleportation
    According to this IEEE Spectrum article, the key, apparently, is combining the distance possible with entangled photons (the record being show of 150KM) with the reliability of the usual entangled ions used in experimental quantum computers already. This hints at the possibilities for internal buses and networking based on principles already being explored in quantum computation.
  • Record labels kill off legal P2P experiment
    According to The Register, this would have been far more ambition than the Manx experiment but also voluntary rather than mandatory. The label’s demands that apparently halted the offering are indeed pretty nonsensical.
  • Sunlight launches lab project, with bounty, for best use of their data
    Hopefully the innovation this sparks will increase the visibility of the issue of open government data and drive more public demand. Regardless, I look forward to seeing what comes out of the competition to expand the great work Sunlight is already doing.
  • Obama’s DoJ appointments not copyleft friendly
    Past action is not always a good predictor. If Obama sets the tone, then they will be expected to work for balanced copyright, despite their past responsibilities. However, where there is latitude for their own local judgment, this is still not encouraging.

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