Post Snowpacolypseageddon Catch Up

Here are the stories I was going to read up on and cover for the news cast that the mid-Atlantic blizzard this past weekend swallowed.

Slashdot had a piece on de-anonymizing social network data. I imagine this is of a piece with research by Ohm and others. Bruce Schneier also had a piece on anonymity that I actually did get a chance to skim. He is responding to the suggestion of mandatory identification in the form of a sort of operator’s license for the internet. This was one of the wrinkle’s of Clinton’s speech in the wake of the China-Google incident a few weeks back and also Mundie at Microsoft calling for an Internet Driver’s License in so many words. Not surprisingly, Schneie does an excellent job of explaining not only why such a scheme would not work but why it is a bad idea at its very core.

The big story last week was the ruling in favor of the Australian ISP, iiNet. Everyone picked this story up and then some. This is of course a critical protection of safe harbors for ISPs. It stands as a key precedent for some and hopefully a strong example for others to continue to alleviate ISPs third party liabilities as long as they adhere to the established bounds of existing safe harbor provisions. It also re-inforces the need to stall or stop ACTA as one of the things it threatens to change are those very safe harbors.

The last story is a physics of computing piece, Ars describes the potential of news research in graphene transistors. 100Ghz? Even if that is still some years away and with any kind of caveat it would be one heck of a speed bump over where silicon has practically maxed out.

That along with the belated link dumps of security alerts and follow ups catches me up on what I missed getting out while power was out. I have a few more stories in my queue to catch me up on today’s blogging. If I go dark again around mid-week, it will be a result of us losing power again. The forecast keeps getting worse but there is a chance the above ground lines around here will gold. We had nasty winds over the weekend that are not going to be a part of the next bit of weather. I may be deluding myself but I also like to think that whatever was going to come down has already hit a line and in the course of restoring power, they hacked away anything merely leaning on the lines.

Wish us luck, we are as prepared as we can be with the roads still a mess. We have food, cooking fuel and heating fuel. I should be back on my regular schedule next week at the latest.

Piracy More Lucrative than Legal Downloads, Morality’s Role in the Copyright Debate, and More

  • Piracy much more lucrative than legitimate downloads
    Gaven sent me this link which substantiates claims that many rights holders make more from pressing damages against online file sharers than through legitimate sales, often by more than two orders of magnitude. One has to wonder how this is skewing traditional incentives to create and distribute, not just punishing file sharers.
  • Kaspersky chief wants to end online anonymity
    According to The Register, he thinks releasing the internet to the public at large with the capability for anonymous use the same as the original educational and military users was a mistake. Given his stake as a security vendor, I think this says more about his pessimism about effective security solutions more than it does about any architectural or policy mistakes in opening up the internet.
  • Canadian copyright lobby’s pressure to dilute anti-spam bill
    According to professor Geist, what is at stake is a current exemption that lets ISPs and investigators install monitoring software without consent for the purposes of finding infringers. If such a narrow interest guts the potential public good this bill is aiming to achieve, that would be a shame on two fronts, both the erosion of consumer protections and the furthering of the copyright maximalist agenda.
  • The role of morality in copyright
    Mike Masnick clearly frames his own thoughts on the matter in this Techdirt post. He’s definitely more of a utilitarian, not that in this case, with this argument, that that is a bad thing. He uses it to frame his citation of William Patry’s recent posts on the subject which advance the theory that morality is more often brought in as a rhetorical veil to cover the expansion of rights that are not sustainable for any other reason.
  • Questions around the lending of ebooks by libraries
    At Techdirt, Mike Masnick links to a NYT piece on the subject and calls out some of the pertinent questions. As much as I’d like to glibly agree with Masnick’s analysis, unfortunately the question of transfer of ownership for digital works is far from settled, legally, so I don’t think it is enough to cite the first sale doctrine. I think the far more compelling aspect of the argument is around the purpose of public libraries and how best the law and market need to work in order to satisfy that public mandate.
  • Should access to broadband be a right?
    This O’Reilly Radar piece digs into a question prompted by Finland’s recent commitment to that very proposition, the framing of access as a right. Joshua-Michele Ross cites work by Yochai Benkler that examines the effect of policy on broadband adoption and access. Not surprisingly, Benkler’s work suggests our current policies in the US which have stepped away from our past support of open access seem to be a large step in the wrong direction.