Copy-Less Book Scanning, A Detailed Case of iPhone App Piracy, and More

  • A new bill could undermine EFF’s DMCA exemption petition
    The EFF has gone to bat for consumers seeking a DMCA exemption for unlocking phones. While they are waiting on a ruling, some providers have lobbied to get a bill introduced that would make the DMCA moot, legislating to directly forbid unlocking or otherwise modifying prepaid phones. Hopefully there will be opportunity for comment on the bill, soon, and an action alert from the EFF.
  • An engineer’s proposal for copy-less book scanning
    Via Hacker News. I had to admire the will to try to think through this solution but I don’t think any amount of technical indirection is not going to pass legal muster. Big content has not been shy about making arguments about certain ephemeral copies being infringing, even if they are destroyed promptly. Not all courts have agreed with this notion, but enough to muddy the waters. I really hate having to say this just isn’t a technical problem, it really is a legal one. We need copyright reform, not obfuscation and encryption.
  • YouTube being investigated in Germany for criminal infringement
    As the linked article notes, it is not clear whether this will culminate in a court case. The fact that the rights holders here are pursuing criminal charges seems to be an escalation from civil proceedings from which they claim they did not get a response, or at least not an adequate response.
  • iPhone app developer speaks out about piracy
    The sample set is admittedly small but does appear to be a damning case study for pirates not using illegitimate copies to try before buying. The silver lining is that the developer is not just implementing a knee jerk protection scheme, but thinking about how to change their business model to capture more sales, such as giving the game away and charging for fresh, downloadable content.
  • Apple discontinues port effort around ZFS
    A lot of speculation as to why, ranging from uncertainty around Oracle’s acquisition of Sun and its stake in ZFS to a patent claim over the file system. Both point to better models to protect open source innovation in the face of problematic copyright ownership, like the raging debate over Oracle and MySQL, and the threats of software patents.
  • Live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell
    IO9 has the details, none of which I am pleased with. I was massively disappointed by the animated film and slightly less so with its sequel. Standalone Complex made me feel a bit better, as I felt it followed the themes and visual style of Shirow’s work more closely. I just can’t conceive of how a live action version would do anything other than fall completely flat.

Broadband Access a Legal Right in Finland, Ringtones Are Not Performances, and More

  • Finland declares broadband a legal right
    The article notes that to start with, citizens will be guaranteed access to a 1MB connection with plans to improve that to 100MB in the next decade. The Finnish are not the first to declare this right and from what scant details I can gather, their implementation will hinge on physical proximity to from high speed uplinks I’m guessing at least partially subsidized by the state.
  • CFTPA warns against targeting P2P in Canadian copyright reform
    Professor Geist points out another trade association whose remarks submitted to Canada’s copyright consultation seem a bit more clueful. The producers’ association acknowledges that open access is critical and that peer-to-peer has substantial legitimacy worth preserving.
  • 19th century network neutrality
    Glyn Moody points to this blog post stemming from an author’s research for a book. The comparison to the rail system isn’t particular novel and I think that unfortunately that metaphor breaks down quickly. Despite the height rail achieved at one time, I am not sure I’d want to see the internet languish decades down the line in the same way.
  • Linux Foundation offers new perks to attract members
    Ryan Paul describes at Ars existing as well as newly announced benefits to folks who join the foundation. He also unfortunately spots a snag in one of the more attractive ones, that the Dell discount excludes models shipping with Linux.
  • Court rules that ringtones are not public performances
    The EFF explains how intent seems to have made the difference in the ruling, that folks don’t have any expectation of profit from having their phone ring, unlike true public performances where rights must indeed be cleared. The rule also found downloads do not constitute a performance, a decision I think is much more obvious and startling that this has to be made clear to ASCAP.
  • Google’s proposed ebooks offering
    Lots of good detail in this Wired piece except whether the open format in question actually is ePub or something else. It does clarify that Editions will support offline reading. Hardly surprising is how this will be tied into the Books project, leveraging the scanning work Google has undertaken and the legal wranglings over their forthcoming settlement with the Authors’ Guild and others.

TCLP 2009-09-27 News

This is news cast 191.

In the intro, a reminder that this month’s CopyNight here in DC is tomorrow night, at 6:30PM at the Teaism in Penn Quarter. The discussion will at least include the Google Books settlement and the FCC rules on network neutrality and more besides no doubt.

This week’s security alerts are AES explained by stick figures and bounties on infected Macs.

In this week’s news FCC chair calls for rules on network neutrality including early challenges and resistance and a web site detailing the details as the rules will be implemented, Netflix second release of anonymized data could be a privacy disaster, re-booting the book which at least partly continues Clive Thomson’s consideration of the future of reading, and duct tape programmers.

Following up this week authors and other plaintiffs ask for a delay in the Google Books settlement which is granted and the French Senate passes an amended three strikes law though it still requires debate and passage by the National Assembly.

[display_podcast]

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.

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TCLP 2009-09-13 News

This is news cast 190.

In the intro, a reminder I will be speaking at the Maryland Ubuntu Loco for Software Freedom Day on the 19th. That will be at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library. You can visit that second link to find an event in your area or to register to host your own.

I also share a few thoughts on my experiences at this year’s Dragon*Con including a round of thanks. First, thanks to my follow volunteers: Swoopy, Sam Chupp, Laura Ross, Andrew Wilson, Kreg Steppe and Jonathan Strickland. A special thanks to my room mates for the weekend, the hosts of Technorama, Chuck Tomasi and Kreg Steppe. There wasn’t time to thank them in the intro but I also wanted to thank my friends Chooch and Viv (of the COH Podcast and Into the Blender) who dragged me away from the podcast track to make sure I ate, saw the rest of the con and socialized (mostly with them and their own room mates, P.G. Holyfield and Patrick McLean.)

I documented my experiences at the con extensively on the blog and may still try to sum up my experiences for this year, beyond just that journal of events.

This week’s security alerts are Windows 7 restores a vintage remote BSoD and researchers discover the first Linux web server based botnet.

In this week’s news emulating scarce property in an attempt to improve on DRM, Boyle’s thoughts on the copyright black hole and the Google Books settlement, why motivation may matter to artificial intelligence which reminds me of my own ruminations on love, sex and artificial intelligence, and reliable remote file deletion in the cloud.

Following up this week just i4i’s side of the story about its patent claims against Microsoft.

[display_podcast]

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.

Following up for the Week of 9/13/2009

Hands on with Retro Computing, Experimenting with eBooks, Facebook Opening Sources Voluntarily and Otherwise, and More

  • Facebook required to hand over source code
    Mike Masnick covers this well at Techdirt. Facebook is being made to hand over their sources as the result of a ruling in a patent infringement suit. Masnick correctly points out the problems with this, that it seems wildly inappropriate given that it is patent, not copyright, and that it is their entire code base for such a narrow claim.
  • Hands-on retro computing show
    John Timmer has the details at Ars. Most notable is that the show is requiring exhibitors to be allowed to touch the machines on display. It really drives home that the focus of the show are the first wave of personal computers that boasted a level of interactivity and access that set them apparent from their time sharing, big iron forebears.
  • Nick Cave and his publisher do more with ebooks
    Mick Masnick of Techdirt describes an example of what I think Clive Thomson was discussing in his piece on the future of reading. Also interesting to note that as much as we bag on publishers, in this instance they were the ones prodding the experimentation with the ebook.
  • Apps for America 2 winners
    Clay Johnson of Sunlight Labs posted this before heading off to the Gov 2.0 Summit. I am guessing these are ranked, so DataMasher beat ThisWeKnow, the latter being my favorite. Otherwise, this list seems to me to be the same as the finalists, so I am a little confused.
  • Linux Foundation asks MS to stop secret attacks
    A good follow up by Ryan Paul at Ars Technica on the heels of the OIN buying up some Microsoft patents. Read yesterday’s post, specifically the link to Matt Asay’s piece. Zemlin of the Linux Foundation clearly agrees that Microsoft’s patent auction was a move similar to their covert support of SCO, an indirect assault on Linux.
  • Facebook releases some FriendFeed code as open source
    RWW hashes the announcement from Bret Taylor, one of FF’s co-founders. What they’ve done seems reasonable given their needs. I’ve worked with and built non-blocking servers before so appreciate the difficulties involved. The license here is Apache, so I could see some of this code potentially making its way into other Python based projects to the betterment of the whole community.
  • Amazon, Copyright office among those dissenting in Google Books hearing
    According to Wired, Google’s attempts to share revenue with other resellers fell flat with at least Amazon. Further, the Register of Copyrights thinks the courts have overstepped what should have been a matter handled by Congress. I am not sure that is realistic, though I think there may be something to perhaps modeling future agreements after this settlement, if it ever reaches any kind of sustainable compromise.

Microsoft Training Retailers in FUD, Cluelessness and Cluefulness around Patents, and More

I managed to catch up a little bit yesterday after getting home from my travels. Catching up involved mostly just flagging things to read later, though, not so much the actual reading and note taking.

  • Microsoft teaching retails to spread FUD about Linux
    Emil at Ars Technica has screen shots of a dodgy quiz for Best Buy staff intended to push their message of Windows 7’s superiority to Linux, content which is continuous with their years of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Reading through this, you get a pretty clear sense of the Redmond giant’s nervousness in the netbook category.
  • A chilling demonstration of how broken software patents are
    If you read the linked piece, you get a pretty clear impression of a company that in no way contributes anything useful to the technology industry. There seems to be some pretty serious self delusion, including their trick to avoid “technically” being a patent troll.
  • Intel’s Grove suggest patents should be used or lost
    Mike Masnick has the details at Techdirt, a pretty good contrast to the Myhrvold piece. Grove seems to have a really good grasp of how the patent system as applied to computing technology has the opposed effect from that stated in the progress clause.
  • Network surveillance an unintended consequence of copyright
    I think the original post to whom Cory links understates this. Starting from a maximalist view of enforcing copyright, universal network surveillance and all of the privacy risks that go along with that, seem pretty inevitable.
  • Why anonymized data really isn’t
    This Ars piece by Nate Anderson details a new paper by law professor Paul Ohm. He digs into research done over the past handful of years showing how it is possible to “re-identify” data that is supposed to be anonymous. Ohm uses these examples, many which Anderson recaps in the article, to point out the critical gap in privacy laws that have traditionally been fixated on protected personally identifying information, a tact that does nothing for recovery of identities from presumed anonymous data.
  • Concerns with Google Books specific to academics
    Unrelated to the privacy and monopoly concerns raised by others, here the issue seems to be the centralization of editing and maintenance. Nunberg, who has been writing about these issues, points out a variety of errors in the project’s metadata and the implication is that Google is a bottleneck, no matter how well meaning, in an time when folks are more used to distributed control, like Wikipedia.
  • One real time web standard gaining adoption
    According to RWW, WordPress has implemented Dave Winer’s proposed syndication for real time updates, RSSCloud. They have a related piece, linked from this post, of an aggregator that has also implemented the technology. This has me curious about the fragmentation risk here, that Google and FriendFeed has selected PubSubHubbub; can these be made to interoperate? Or will it be largely irrelevant like the practical differences between RSS and Atom?
  • Child safety software sells their data to marketers
    Cory posts the relevant details. It confirms my biggest concern with censor-ware of any kind, namely these sorts of unintended uses. And where they are logging data, in this case IMs, the more valuable that data, the more likely someone else will get it, either through theft or, as in this case, via a pretty shameful profit motive.
  • Details on one of the Apps for America 2 contest
    I linked to the finalist list last week, RWW has some good details on the one for which I voted. This entry is also open source, using a very liberal MIT license and you can clone their sources from github. No further insight into incorporating local data sources in addition to federal ones.
  • Web browser inspired by Unix philosophy
    I like the idea, I will readily admit it, but kind of question its usefulness compared to something like curl. Having to write your own scripts for bookmarks, downloads and such would seem to be tedious to me with little upside. I am sure it does open things up to the point where someone could do something wickedly surprising far simpler than via an extension mechanism.