Public Knowledge Sponsors First World’s Fair Use Day

Public Knowledge is sponsoring what looks like an amazing event, to be held on January 12th next year.

“World’s Fair Use Day will shine a spotlight on how crucial fair use is to our culture, our democracy and our economy,” Sohn said. “It is important for people to realize that it is not always illegal to use copyrighted materials without permission.”

They are even planning a double feature, the evening before, of “RiP: A Remix Manifesto” and “Copyright Criminals”.

You can find the impressive list of speakers and all the particulars on the web site Public Knowledge has set up for the event.

Latest Infringement Charge over Incidental Copying

I have to chalk this story (found via Dan at Geekadelphia) from the Chicago Sun-Times up to the ignorance of the movie staff who initiated the complaint and the owners who pressed it forward. A young woman, Samantha Tumpach, is being charged with a felony over mere minutes of video that happens to contain a few minutes of big content’s latest manufactured hit. Tumpach has already spent two nights in jail and is potentially facing years of jail time. All this over a video anyone would be hard pressed to see as worth selling or sharing as a bootleg. Undoubtedly if we could see the video in question, it would bear out Tumpach’s claims that the capture of the movie was merely incidentally to celebratory shenanigans in the course of a birthday outing.

It would be easy to ask why big content hasn’t learned its lesson after the dancing baby case. But according to the story, this was just a theater staffer seeing the camera out and recording. The theater owners insisted on pressing charges–over three minutes of incidental capture?

Tumpach says she will fight the charges and I hope she gets a judge with a lick of common sense who will throw this case out for lack of merit. If not, I hope she has the further courage to press an appeal that might yield a ruling either out of an Illinois district court or the 7th federal circuit (I think that is the right one) that makes everyone, not just Universal who got spanked by Lenz, but smaller operators alike, think twice about stamping so hard on incidental use and fair use alike.

First Release of Open Source Voting System, Mozilla’s Social Messaging Aggregator, and More

  • MySQL developer responds to Stallman’s plea to free MySQL from Oracle
    The basis of Brian Akers’ response seems to be taking issue with RMS’ apparent support for dual licensing. His argument makes a certain amount of sense but I don’t think this risk of dual licensing is unique to the GPL, I think concerns around copyright assignment and ownership persist regardless and require more discussion and thought.
  • Mozilla’s answer to aggregating social conversation?
    My biggest disappointment with Wave is that I don’t see it ever addressing the need to aggregate distributed conversations across multiple social networks. Raindrop, a new project from Mozilla, however, appears to be aiming squarely at this need. I am cautiously excited at the potential in this project.
  • AT&T urges employees to speak against FCC’s net neutrality plan
    Via the Net Neutrality Squad, a correct link to the original email text. The link some sites used is in many cases apparently broken. Looking this over, it seems to be carefully worded enough to remain legal but I think it is still pretty sleazy if not outright immoral.
  • EFF steps in to defend culture jammers, Yes Men
    At Ars Matthew Lasar explains what has the Us Chamber of Commerce peeved to the point where they issued a DMCA takedown against the pranksters. The EFF is working to defend them on a fair use basis, as the site in question is clearly intended as satire and social commentary. I am guessing the USCoC is stinging more over a Yes Men member infiltrating a meeting.
  • Data entry errors result in improper sentences
    This story is horrifying, really, and I would think a very strong case for usability expertise for any sort of system where such a human error could have dire consequences.
  • Foundation opens the source to Symbian’s kernel
    As Ryan Paul explains at Ars, this is the latest step in responding to competitive pressure from other, newer mobile platforms that started their lives as open source. Paul also spoke with the executive director of the Symbian Foundation about the relative advantages the more mature and widely adopted OS brings with both the opening of its sources and the delivery of a supporting SDK.
  • First release from open source voting system project
    According to Wired, this project has already been in the works for several years, not sure how I missed prior mention of it. This release is essentially very early prototype code but hopefully will get the academic community analyzing and providing necessary feedback, as they have been doing to the less receptive commercial vendors.

Doctorow’s DIY Experiment, Asking Oracle to Let MySQL Go, and More

  • Hiccup over indexing, searching Google Voice messages
    The original story has been updated to clarify. The messages in question had been shared or posted publicly in some way by the account holders, this is not a breach of voice messages more generally. Google has responded by changing the crawler not to index these messages, leaving it to site owners to opt-in to have them indexed and available in searches.
  • New auto glass standard could affect wireless devices
    From the net neutrality squad mailing list, an inadvertent clash between environmental concerns and the ability to enjoy cell phones and satellite radio. So far, this metallicized glass is being considered in California but could see adoption in other Southern latitude states is successful.
  • Author’s thoughts on his free content work being re-published
    Via Gnat’s four short links post for today at O’Reilly. Mark Pilgrim explains very clearly that re-publishing without his explicit permission is a large part of the point in him choosing not only an open but a free as in free software license for his book. Important to note that this competitive version only came after his publisher, APress, already had many years to profit from their version alone.
  • Cory’s DIY experiment, a print-on-demand short fiction anthology
    I will admit to some insider knowledge of Cory’s plans and relief that he is finally publicizing parts of what is a very ambition business plan. There is much here that should be familiar by now due to similar experiments by other creatives, most notably Trent Reznor. I would expect Cory to also share what hard date he is able to collect after the fact to give us as complete a case study as possible. Oh and I must start saving my pennies for one of the hand bound editions.
  • Monty urges Oracle to free MySQL
    At Ars, Ryan Paul explains not only Monty’s remarks but urging by the EC for Oracle to sell of the open source database. I tend to agree more with Matt Asay in this instance, that forcing the divestment may chill corporate backing and ownership of open source projects. I think there is a more common third way, partnerships through foundations, that Asay doesn’t consider. But I take his meaning and thing it is a sound bit of caution when thinking through this story.
  • Big content backs down on anti-spyware provisions
    Professor Geist has the good news following on from his earlier posting about rights holders proposing exceptions to the tabled anti-spyware, anti-spam bill that would largely dilute its effectiveness.
  • AP amends its countersuit against Shepard Fairey
    Xeni follows up on BoingBoing with what I think we can all agree is inevitable. Again, while the fair use merits may be salvageable in the case, the extra liability he has invited may erode his will and ability to see those remaining positive aspects through.
  • Barnes and Noble e-book reader launches today
    RWW has the pertinent details, as do many other sites. It seems to be an improvement over the Kindle, in terms of consumer freedoms, but still largely hobbled. Personally, I won’t touch it as long as AT&T is the carrier but also a worry is that B&N still uses cumbersome DRM. They do support more open and standard formats, though, most notably ePub but these do not appear to be the formats used for their commercial offerings.

Shepard Fairey Comes Clean, SCO Eliminates McBride’s Job, and More

  • PulseAudio creator responds to criticism
    I don’t use PulseAudio myself but am well familiar with some of the common complaints. I am partly sympathetic to his explanations but think that at least some of the purpose for a framework like PA should be to better handle edge cases and errors to guide developers to more correct usage of the framework and anything it attaches to.
  • Picking apart the rhetoric of net neutrality opponents
    Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge has a good, if incensed, piece that de-constructs the rhetoric and even some of the influences of opponents to the FCC adoption network neutrality.
  • OpenBSD 4.6 released
    Another release from the operating system from which the wonderful security swiss army knife, OpenSSH, is ported. A good opportunity to support development of either or both of the OS and the network tool by purchasing a CD or some swag with the release artwork.
  • The truth about the Shepard Fairey copyright case
    Mike Masnick of Techdirt has the official press statement as well as some quick analysis. He may be right, that Fairey can still make a serviceable fair use defense but I cannot imagine the damage his shredded credibility will do to that defense, regardless.
  • SCO eliminates McBride’s job
    At Groklaw, PJ has an excerpt from the latest bankruptcy filing. It explains that the CEO and President positions were eliminated and seems to position doing so as part of the financial re-structuring. The fact that the company plans to continue its infamous anti-Linux litigation unfortunately supports a less vindictive interpretation of McBride’s departure.

TCLP 2009-08-26 Embracing Fair Use

This is a feature cast.

In the intro a quick review of the file, “Sita Sings the Blues“, by Nina Paley.

The hacker word of the week this week is enhancement.

The feature this week is a monologue on embracing fair use. Here’s the promised links defining fair use and fair use for trademarks. I mention Open Media Review and The Arbiter Chronicles.


Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

TCLP 2009-08-23 News

This is news cast 188.

In the intro, I will be speaking at the Maryland gathering for Software Freedom Day on September 19th. More details after Dragon*Con.

This week’s security alerts are new research to predict online attacks and cracking real time ID generators.

In this week’s news new research into nanoscale lasers using surface plasmons to break the previous scale limits with some more good technical detail in Ars’ coverage, an excellent discussion of transformative works, URL shortening service cheats death by opening its source and its data, and an operating system programmed in assembly.

Following up this week i4i confirms OpenOffice doesn’t violate its patent and Nina Paley shares the source files to her wonderful open content workSita Sings the Blues“.


Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Week in Review for 8/16/2009

Quick News Links

  • Are IT’s glory days over?
    This is a far less inflammatory NYT piece than it first appears. Even Siebel on further conversation tries to wave away some of the impact. Randall Stross does a good job of finding enough alternate viewpoints for you to draw your own, imprecise conclusions.
  • Alpha of next Firefox version released
    Some good details from Ars on what the next version will include based on what is available in this first alpha. The point version seems warranted as the focus seems to be on performance and other optimizations rather than large, new features.
  • Tenenbaum lawyers commit to continuing defense against RIAA
    This is a bit of encouraging news reported by Nate Anderson at Ars. Even beyond Nesson’s commitment to keep fighting for Tenenbaum and to seek even wider redress, I think Nate hits on a critical point of this fight. Statutory damages were designed with corporate infringers and commercial pirates in mind. Leveraging them against individuals is hardly fair as Nesson has repeatedly contended.
  • Considering the competitive strategy of Chrome OS vs. Microsoft
    This is a fascinating piece by Zachary at Tech Review. He explores much more than the technical arguments around the Chrome OS. He makes a pretty good argument for the business reasons and historical circumstances that may ultimately lead to Google winning out over Microsoft.
  • Some advertising networks using Flash to foil opt-out
    I’ve talked about the risk of Flash cookies, before. Wired, here, covers a government report that has uncovered some distressing uses that I wish I could say surprised me, but a recent post by Ed Felten on Freedom to Tinker suggested that there are certainly worse things than simple browser cookies. This is at least one thing he meant by that.
  • Flash cookie research prompts an advertising to change policy
    A good follow up from Wired. It suggests that there is definitely room for more privacy tracking work, maybe something similar to StopBadWare, either as a substitute for regulation or to supplement and augment it.
  • Music labels plan to introduce their own music file format
    BBG among others picked up this story. I think this is another case of the industry unhappy with their current revenue streams, trying to invent a new demand. I am doubtful it will succeed, given the ease of acquisition for a single, through legitimate or other channels. I also don’t think high quality album art and similar add ons are enough to make it worth more than the singles as MP3 or other existing audio format files.
  • Beta glimpse of Google’s new search engine
    RWW has some quick side-by-side comparisons. The new engine appears to be some infrastructure improvements in the search engine across the board, from crawling, to speed and quality of results.
  • More on forthcoming improvements to Google’s search
    Wired’s WebMonkey has a few more details, and also weighs in that the developer sandbox version yields faster, better results. Good news for Google with the social services focusing on search and Microsoft still trying to claw their way into the space.
  • A standardized operating system for robots
    I’ve heard this story, before. A couple of robotics kit makers promised a standardized base to which other vendors could make add-ons and peripherals. I don’t think this is a technical problem, I think it is a market problem. Until there is a compelling need for robotics in the home, I don’t think there is the kind of demand needed to drive this sort of open standardization.
  • Lockpicking and the internet
    The meat of this post by Schneier actually locks at the security problems with newer electronic locks but I was more interested by the first half. There he seems to be using online info on locks to make implications about disclosure. If we don’t have access to information on these locks, we can’t know how they will fail and can’t then build good security.
  • UK Pirate Party launched
    The BB story and its link simply report that the party has its infrastructure yp and running and is registered with the appropriate authorities in the UK. I do think it is good further evidence of how copyright issues are seeping into policy discussions in more and more places.
  • Issues the Pirate Party in the UK needs to address
    The Slashdot piece suggests that the part will also focus on surveillance as an issue. I think that is consistent with the platform of other instances of the party. Sadly, I don’t see any real in-depth discussion at the linked story beyond copyright reform.
  • New uTorrent includes network management friendly features
    uTorrent and others have just about always had the ability to throttle transfers which is a good idea when using a potentially limited connection. The new features in the beta, according to the Register, would appear to give users more insight into usage and make the client a better network citizen over all.
  • Two Brits convicted of refusing to decrypt data
    According to the Register, there are few details as this case was made public in a government report. The report doesn’t reveal the defendants names or any other details. They may not have even been defendants in a case originally, merely prosecuted for defying police powers granted by RIPA.
  • Movie industry now wants internet disconnect power
    According to this BB piece, the point of contention is once again judicial review. The movie industry finds it too time consuming and inconvenient. Excuse me? Protecting citizens’ rights and due process is inconvenient? Forget the antiquated business models, this poor grasp of the purpose of the judiciary is far more concerning.
  • Interpreting IBM’s stance on patents
    A nice bit of work by Glyn Moody. No doubt if IBM responds, they’ll continue to muddy the waters, but I think the material Moody has turned up make it clear that IBM wants the perception of being reform friendly but doesn’t want to have to give up its portfolio any time soon.
  • First formally proven operating system kernel
    Formally proven software is difficult given the complexities of real world software. This is a pretty amazing feat for something of the scale of an operating system kernel and immediately useful where reliability is the utmost priority, like safety systems.
  • New campaign for photographers’ rights
    Details and a link at BB. Seems like a long overdue effort. I like the bust card, a good way to help educate folks on the ground and ensure they have the info to hand they need to protect themselves as needed.
  • EFF criticizes Burning Man for limiting attendees fair use rights
    As the EFF notes, BMO’s motives may have be praise worthy but this sort of co-opting of people’s rights is never a good idea. The unintended consequences constitute to large a risk for the tactic to be worth trying.
  • Burning Man responds to EFF’s criticism
    BB has an extensive quote here with which I am sympathetic. The goals aren’t really the question, just the means. There has to be a better way to accomplish what the organizers want without resorting to this tactic.
  • Mozilla project to allow non-coders to help with Firefox development
    RWW has the details of a program announced earlier. The idea in a nutshell is to perform distributed usability testing, an ambitious plan that could really kick start the user facing developments in future versions of Firefox.
  • Sony adopts the ePub format, but with DRM
    RWW confirms what was unclear in some other coverage, that Sony is supporting a DRM wrapper around ePub, something which the format allows. It leaves me feeling a bit ambiguous as I like seeing further adoption of this otherwise open format but the fact that it can be so easily locked up bothers me. It makes me question whether ePub can in fact do what MP3 did as a de facto standard in pressuring Apple to drop DRM for their music offering.
  • Google Books adds CC license option
    This is indeed good news, straight from the CC blog itself. While it is preserving authors’ choice, though, the license is not a searchable option which means that if you don’t know what you are looking for, just doing a broader subject search, you’re still likely to get a mixed bag of copyrighted and open content.
  • Creating an AI to explore the nature of evil
    According to this SciAm article, this is a bit less practical than I was expecting. It seems more like a philosophical exercise rather than one with any sort of applications in cognitive psychology or robotics. The model doesn’t seem terrifically detailed, either, though I supposed that is understandable given how hesitant researchers are with examining even less squeamish aspects of the human psyche.
  • Firefox extension to frees court documents locked behind paywall
    The pertinent details are quoted in the BB post. The idea is to crowd source the micro payments to get a single copy of a previously protected document and then share that one copy forward to everyone else using the extension or the database that drives it. Shame we need this bit of hacktivism but very clever nonetheless.
  • Ubuntu removes controversial, experimental search extension
    Via Groklaw, no real explanation in the launchpad ticket to which the link points as to why. Top be fair, the extension was always described by Canonical as an experiment, so this could be a legitimate move as much as a result of pressure from public outcry.

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