A Copyright Counterintuition, A Thorny Privacy Ruling, and More

  • A counter-intuitive case about copyright
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt comments on story about which he had previously been reluctant to talk because the role and interpretation of copyright seems counter to what many might feel is intuitively right. I tend to agree with Masnick’s interpretation, which is based on an excellent explanation at the Consumerist, namely that the artist being copied really doesn’t have a basis for claiming copyright protection nor should he need it.
  • BitTorrent continues to add network management friendly features
    Back in August, the uTP version of the protocol added some statically configured options to cap bandwidth to help alleviate the concerns of ISPs. According to TorrentFreak, they are continuing in this vein with their latest beta which adds the ability to detect network congestion and automatically adjust. Some are skeptical but rather than being critical, why not help improve the implementation, supporting the intent, pitching in to fix cases where the beta doesn’t appear to behave as advertised.
  • UK government tries to draft model copyright contracts
    According to The Register this project sounds a lot like the Creative Commons except that they are template contracts rather than conditions on copyright. The issue of how this effects general limits and exceptions on copyright is an important one to track. Locking up exceptions wholly in contractual enforcement would actually worsen the norm of having to acquire permission by default rather than freeing up cultural re-use and free speech.
  • Simple mechanical computer plays and learns tic-tac-toe
    Cory posted this fascinating story on BoingBoing about a mechanical computer built using match boxes, beans and beads. From the description, it sounds like it also acts as a sort of simple neural network, adjusting the weighting of certain contingencies over time. Very clever to consider that anything can be used to represent these states, not just the usual electronics we take for granted.
  • First beta of next Firefox release
    RWW details what is in the beta and hence what we can expect in the final release of 3.6. Sounds largely like an incremental improvement though the speed boost will be appreciated across the board.
  • A reading platform targeting the BookServer project
    Via DaringFireball. This looks equally ambitious to the Internet Archive’s server project. This seems to do one better than Google’s editions, but not only being very clear about the supported formats, most notably ePub, but also explaining that it will support offline reading. The trick will be using HTML5’s offline storage feature for browsers that support it. Can’t wait for any kind of public release to play with this reader and see how it stacks up.
  • A thorny email privacy ruling
    To be clear, a warrant is still required here, the issue is that this federal judge has ruled that notice need not be given when such a warrant is executed to search your email stored with a third party. I recommend you read the analysis as this is nowhere near as cut and dried as we might like. In particular, there is a legal doctrine that results in a similar practice for traditional, offline searches.

A Bit Torrent Tracker for CC Licensed Works, Considering Copyright Puzzlers, and More

  • Pirate Party of Canada launches Creative Commons bit torrent tracker

    Saw this on Prof. Geist’s blog, what looks like a pretty clever idea. The party is only serving torrents to CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 works and includes some pages with more details about included artists, including rotating a new one onto the front page of the tracker each week. No details on how to get your works into the tracker, though.

  • Canadian schools facing stiff retroactive copyright access fees

    Another story from Prof. Geist, this time the culmination of several years of negotiation between educators and the Copyright Board. Despite the surprisingly large fees, this is apparently a much lower rate than originally proposed. It would be easy to ignore the context and suggest schools are being treated unfairly, but these fees are apparently well established and at least some of the educators expect to have to pay them as a matter of course.

  • Research advances in computing with excitons

    According to The Register, the improvements are around the operational temperature of prototype components using a phenomenon that bridges the interaction between optics and electronics.

  • It may be cheaper to skip court than face the RIAA suits

    At Ars, Nate Anderson discusses a couple of cases where the defendants did just that and the default judgement was fair more manageable than the awards in the Thomas and Tenebaum cases. Nate has an update on the post that answered my first question about how settling compares to defaulting, with settling being the cheapest option of all, other than gambling and winning on proving you are innocent.

  • Is it legal to download if you do not upload?

    In this Ars piece, Nate Anderson does an excellent job of parsing through the complaints in the Thomas and Tenenbaum cases. He also considers the state of law and concludes that merely downloading can be argued to violate the reproduction right under the Copyright Act even if a user doesn’t infringe on the distribution right. Well worth the read since he also considers other countries, not just the US.

  • Australian group conflates unlimited bandwidth with piracy

    Via the Net Neutrality Squad list, an IT News AU piece describing a tortured bit of rhetoric by what I am guessing is an industry group. The article does not that AFACT is representing the film industry in a relevant court case, trying to hold an ISP liable for infringing downloads on its network.

Podcast #34

I’m going to be moving to the enhanced podcast format, since there hasn’t been any feedback requesting me not to. I will get a parallel, MP3 feed set up, hopefully with Wouter’s help. There will be plenty of warning before the change in file format with direction to the new feed for those that want to keep getting plain MP3s.

Some security alerts in the intro: another IE image flaw, beware Google desktop copying your files, security update to the JVM, and MS patch Tuesday to include 7 fixes, two of them potentially remote exploitable.

Also in the intro, FireFox 2.0 Alpha is coming/here!

In this week’s news, BitTorrent presses trademark enforcement, Stallman will not support Creative Commons, Apple antitrust case is posssible (regardless of whether it is viable), and FTC wants to shame adware, but will it work?

This week’s feature, another Inner Chapter. This time, continuous and incremental improvement, with some counter examples.

Download the show directly.