Monday, May 30, 2005

"Trusted Computing" is here; probably BAD news

Still in NYC and have no time to write. See this story about "Trusted Computing" on Slashdot.

Don't know about TC? See this article on EFF that discusses the pros and cons. About halfway down, you'll notice one particular problem: TC is deployed to threat YOU, THE END USER as a potential "threat" to the system. That's right, you'll no longer be in charge of your own computer.

Uh, yipes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Secret Senate Hearings on New PATRIOT Act

Can't write much; I'm at the ICA convention in NYC. :-)

Check this awesome Philadelphia Inquirer editorial blasting the new PATRIOT Act. (Use to avoid signing up.)

More info from the ACLU and EFF. (EFF link is an action alert for the good people of Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Nebraska, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, California, Oregon, Indiana, Maryland, and New Jersey.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Google v. University Presses

Here's a copyright battle with no clear moral high ground: University presses are rankled by Google's plans to scan almost every book of any scholarly value into a gigantic, searchable database.

Google hasn't entirely tipped its hand yet, so I'm not making any predictions or throwing my weight behing either side just yet...

Read the full story on C|Net.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

PTO director to 6th graders: avoid P2P

Jon W. DudasToday on C|Net:

Legacy Elementary School, in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, is holding its graduation ceremony today. Jon Dudas, director of US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), is delivering the commencement address.

Dudas is using the speech as a platform for lecturing children about the perils of peer-to-peer file trading. That's right, your Under Secretary of Commerce/PTO chair is about to lecture 6th graders about respecting intellectual property rights. Of course, he's not going there merely to lecture children. The PTO is coming to Salt Lake City to hold a Conference on Intellectual Property in the Global Marketplace.

I suspect the students would rather skip the commencement and show up for tomorrow's field day.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Spanish lecturer fired for P2P lecture

Jorge Cortell Jorge Cortell, a lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) in Spain, has been fired for discussing the legal uses of P2P networks.

Cortell was scheduled to give a public lecture, including a public use of P2P software, to demonstrate the socially valuable and (under Spanish law) fully legal uses of this software. He notified the Spanish collecting society, police, and attorney general in advance of the talk. The Dean then received threats that the school would be subjected to software license inspection and other copyright-cartel harrassments; he caved and pulled the venue out from under Cortell's feet.

Corell gave the lecture anyway (in a cafeteria, to about 150 people), and he was asked for his resignation.

This is the most gut-wrenching destruction of academic freedom I've heard in months. I'll be pressing the Chronicle of Higher Education to do a story. We need to get the word out before such things start happening here.

See Cortell's story here (and again on BoingBoing).

Friday, May 20, 2005

Looking sideways--at rigid copyright rules

Discovering; including obligatory link as legal duty.

Picture is available under attribution, noncommercial, share-alike license, as described at

Consider this notice that, in fact, so is the whole damned blog.

Is eBay enforcing bad-faith copyright claims?

Here on Ed Foster's Gripelog, you'll find a story alleging that eBay is blindly enforcing the copyright allegations of NetEnforcers, a coin-operated IP enforcement shop. (What they call "comprehensive brand protection services.")

This may be a private IP rent-a-cop going overboard to inflate its enforcement numbers, or it could also represent a copyright owner (in this case, the producers of scuba gear manuals) seeking to demolish the second-hand market in utter violation of the first sale doctrine. I suspect the former.

While the story is as yet unconfirmed, it fits with some of the long-running critiques of eBay. See this six-year-old piece, which critiques eBay's privacy policy--a policy that is not that different today. Basically, eBay appears to work on the belief that alleged infringers are guilty until proven innocent--with no promise that you'll be notified if your personal information is disclosed, let alone be given a fair hearing. Contrast this with Verizon (certainly not my favorite company), which took its case to the DC Circuit Appeals Court to keep from divulging customer identities without a court order and left the RIAA to enforce its own copyright claims.

I have emailed NetEnforcers and eBay in search of commentary; I'd like to hear what they have to say. I'm also posting a link to this on GripeLog, inviting the reader to give further details here on ShoutingLoudly.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Privacy? What privacy?

Here are two really creepy stories about how privacy is a) already a thing of the past, and b) in worse shape, if big movie studios have their way.

First, here is a Times article (link dies in a week; see to view anonymously) about how Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) was able to pick up reams of personal data on--um--himself. To clarify:
Senator Ted Stevens wanted to know just how much the Internet had turned private lives into open books. So the senator, a Republican from Alaska and the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, instructed his staff to steal his identity.

"I regret to say they were successful," the senator reported at a hearing he held last week on data theft.

His staff, Mr. Stevens reported, had come back not just with digital breadcrumbs on the senator, but also with insights on his daughter's rental property and some of the comings and goings of his son, a student in California. "For $65 they were told they could get my Social Security number," he said.

Second, here's a story from Wired about how researchers at UCLA are pandering to the big movie studios and developing a DVD copy control scheme that would require biometric identification to watch movies. I'm sure customers will just line up to pay full price for a DVD that they can't loan to their friends--and the shiny new fingerprint-taking players to watch them.

If it flies, by the way, it will make the Tattered Cover 1st Amendment case seem quaint.