Bizarre Claims and Theories in Scribd Suit, New Privacy Concerns Emerging from Advanced Data Analysis, and More

  • Improving government’s user interface
    Felten advances some good questions on Freedom to Tinker prompted by the difference in public responses during political campaigns and the new open government initiatives. To me, it is consistent with the usability question writ large, as it applies to all kinds of machine mediated interactions, in particular the wonderful discussion of usability and security from Shmoocon.
  • Scribd sued for copyright infringement by Jammie Thomas lawyers
    Nate Andersion at Ars explains that the unusual aspect of this case isn’t the particulars, but the lawyers involved. As to the facts of the case, hopefully in view of the outcome of the recent Veoh case, the judge will hold Scribd acted in good faith in taking down the infringing piece and entitled to safe harbor under the DMCA. The lawyers representing the plaintiff here confusingly not only represented Thomas previously, but also defended Psystar against Apple and are trying to form a class for action against the RIAA.
  • More on the Scribd case
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt does an excellent job of clarifying the bogosity of the complaint. He focuses in on the question of liability and how the safe harbors are intended to help ensure it falls to the correct party in the face of the claim. I am even less comfortable with the implication, that they are arguing somehow infringement should be instantaneously punished as it happens regardless of whether a complaint is ever raised.
  • Copyright filtering infringes copyright
    David Kravets at Wired digs into yet another really strange aspect of the Scribd complaint. The argument takes aim at the incidental copies made to drive Scribd’s filtering system. Such copies have always been problematic, as the Wired article quotes EFF’s von Lohmann, but seeding a protective technology would not only seem to be a fair use but one that aligns with the rights holder’s interests to boot.
  • MIT “Gaydar” project continues the trend of question what data is anonymous
    Disturning piece at RWW about this MIT student research project. This isn’t directly continuous with the research that has been looking on a variety of fronts into recovering identities from presumed anonymous data. Rather it uses the same kinds of analysis to expose assumptions and predictions from the same sort of data trails we leave all over the network, especially social sites.
  • ORG enters into fruitful discussion with Mandelson
    The Open Rights Group most recently was participating in a call for action against Mandelson’s plan to implement a three strikes rule in the UK. On the flip side, they were also given an excellent opportunity to work with the MEP’s staff on related issues around music licensing and online business models, as detailed in this post in their site.
  • Graham on paying for form rather than content
    On BB, Cory draws attention to the more and less clueful bits of an essay by entrepreneur Paul Graham. The clueful bits demonstrate this distinction and the follow on consequences, such as the price points for various forms being invariant regardless of quality of content. It resonates with a point Nina Paley made in a recent talk I shared in the podcast, where she emphasized its the container people pay for, not necessarily the work.