Friday, February 24, 2006

"Amen Break" & sampling: praise be!

If you care about music and/or copyright, watch this documentary (of sorts; you'll see) about the Amen Break now. (Takes forever to load/is very big; suck it up.)

Thanks to Bethany Klein for the link. Also via BoingBoing.

Will public access TV go dark?

AM New York is scared that it will under the new telecomm act.

Link via FreePress.

Net neutrality clause nixed from bill

It appears as though the House Energy & Commerce Committee has nixed net neutrality from the new telecomm act.

Quoth Cartman, "Weeeeeeak!"

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Protest DRM on South St. this Saturday @ 12

Care to join Nelson & the rest of Free Culture Swarthmore as they protest digital restrictions on the music you buy?

The protest is at noon this Saturday at Tower Records at 610 South Street in Philly. See the press release for more. Also, feel free to contact me.

Here's a map of the location.

See you there!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How to win DMCA exemptions

Here's a brief coaching session from Seth Finkelstein. He tells you how win exemptions from the DMCA ban on circumventing access controls.

This is both more directly useful and easier to read than my writing on the proceedings. Nonetheless, Seth did give me a link right after I posted Catch 1201 on SSRN.

I didn't discover it until weeeeeks later... Eh, can't blog full time.

Keeping Secrets

Here's sort of a puzzling article in the New York Times. The Times charges for archived content, so here's the long and the short of it:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians....

One reclassified document in Mr. Aid's files, for instance, gives the C.I.A.'s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was "not probable in 1950." Just two weeks later, on Oct. 27, some 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into Korea....

But the historians say the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security. They say it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts on government secrecy believe the C.I.A. and other spy agencies, not the White House, are the driving force behind the reclassification program.
I'd love to learn more about this, but apparently, the reclassification program itself is shrouded in secrecy—"governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved," as the article notes.

Update: Bill reminds me that you can generate permalinks from the New York Times Link Generator, so here is the whole story.

Reg of Copyrights concedes (C) term is too long

Via Boing Boing:

Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, has publicly stated that the copyright term is too long. In context, she effectively says that it's been hijacked and turned from a law designed to benefit the public interest to one designed to benefit publishers, though this is implicit.

Perhaps I've been too critical of Ms. Peters in my recent writing, notably in Catch 1201 and in my DMCA exemption proceedings reply comment (pdf). I still disagree with several of the conclusions she has drawn--particularly her willingness to ignore real harms as "mere inconveniences" and to give the entertainment industry a free pass on claims of widespread infringement that would supposedly come from proposed exemptions. But I'm pleased to see another bit of evidence that she's willing to speak on behalf of the public interest.

Monday, February 20, 2006

BBC: Let copyrights expire

Here's a thoughtful piece by the BBC about why music copyrights--yes, even in Beatles records--should be allowed to expire after 50 years.

The article only advocates allowing the mechanical licenses to expire, not the copyright in the song (which lasts for the life of the artist plus 70 years). The latter goes to songwriters whenever a song is sold or played on the radio; the former goes to music companies.

I also do not think that artists should get 70 years of post-mortem rents on their creations, but it's refreshing to see such a major news organization advocate against the unending extension of copyright protection on any front.

NYT editorial for net neutrality legislation

As seen here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Brrreeeport: Bloggers are silly

Just check out the Brrreeeport phenom. Apparently, it started here. It's almost as much fun as the miserable failure googlebomb.

FreePress: Bust big radio payola

FreePress has a good bit of info and some easy actions to bust payola.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Siva on The Daily Show

So my friend Siva was recently on the Daily Show.

It's pretty funny. Not Stephen Colbert funny--and certainly not Jon Stewart funny--but maybe Rob Cordry funny. The best part is watching Siva play along, like he's sooo offended. He totally gets it the whole time and plays a good straight man.

I don't think he'll need his Abbott shtick any time soon. Siva's well on his way to earning tenure at NYU, and he interviewed for a job at ASC.

Props to Lok for the link, but I'm surprised he didn't post it here or on Silent Dreams.

Voter dBases carry privacy, security threats

Described on CNet here. It describes an ACM report that is availabe here.

Scary stuff.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The "nightmare" of HD DVD copy controls

CNet has a downright frightening story about the copy controls bundled with the new DVD formats.
When the first high-definition DVDs finally hit shelves this spring, a mad scramble may ensue--not for the discs themselves, but to figure out what computers and devices are actually able to play them in their full glory.

Unraveling the mystery won't be easy. Many, if not most, of today's top-of-the-line computers and monitors won't make the cut, even if next-generation Blu-ray or HD DVD drives are installed.
Under the "good" scenario, this means paying more for HD DVDs only to see them in sub-DVD (euphemistically labelled "near DVD") quality. Here's the really bad scenario (read the article; I wish I were making this up): Vista, the (eternally forthcoming) new Windows, will shut down your DVI monitor output unless you install MPAA-sanctioned copy controls.
Studios have persuaded Microsoft to add a feature in the upcoming Vista operating system that can shut down that connection altogether, unless the computer has an Intel-created encryption technology called HDCP, or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, turned on to guard the signal all the way to the monitor screen.

Put another way--if the DVD doesn't like your plug, your monitor may go black.
With luck, the backlash here will echo the Sony rootkit fiasco. If we're unlucky, our digital freedom will just suffer another hit due to MPAA greed.

"Good Fences Make Bad Broadband"

I'm really embarrassed to be 10 days behind on this post, but here's a link to the Public Knowledge white paper on network neutrality.

"Copyright Criminals" remix contest deadline extended to Mar 14

Kembrew McLeod, one of the contest's three judges, personally asked me to spread the word. Here's a blurb from the contest website:
This is a contest for artists to mix audio tracks under 4 minutes which use provided voice samples from Ben Franzen and Kembrew McLeod's forthcoming film, "Copyright Criminals." Samples from the film include voiceovers from De La Soul, DJ Qbert, members of Public Enemy, Matmos, Coldcut, members of Negativland, and others. The best overall winner will be included prominently in the film and the top 11 other entries are to be included on a companion CD. Judging entries along with McLeod and Franzen is Jeff Chang, author of the American Book Award-winning "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation" and co-founder of the influential label SoleSides (now Quannum Projects), responsible for launching the careers of DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker.
Boy do I wish I had the time to play! I hope you do. Please spread the word as far as possible.

NIH policy of voluntary online publishing has failed

Straight from the Public Knowledge "In The Know" mailing list:
The latest report from the National Institutes of
Health on the public access program shows, once again, that the
voluntary approach to having researchers post their papers online
isn't working. Between May 2, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2005, a grand
total of 1,636 peer-reviewed articles were posted to the PubMed
Central site. The posted articles are 3.8 percent of the total of
about 43,000 eligible articles. Nine of the 11 non-NIH members of
the agency's advisory group recommended that the policy be made
mandatory. NIH said in the report that it will continue to work
with researchers, journal publishers and others to improve public
access. The report is here:
What a damned shame; leaving invaluable knowledge locked in proprietary databases.

P.S. This is our 100th post on ShoutingLoudly. Rah.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cable co. uses BitTorrent to distribute content

Check this out. And US entertainment lobbyists wanted to ban peer-to-peer technologies because they might induce piracy.

Every new technology is the end of the entertainment industry as we know it--until the entertainment industry finds a way to capitalize on it. Previous end-of-the-world technologies that were assailed by media companies include the player piano, the radio, and the VCR. Why do people forget this when talking about the internet?

Multiple privacy stories from CNet

I'm on a custom email news list from CNet. If you follow information & tech law at all, I highly recommend it. I get IP, privacy, and media law stuff, and it's usually 2-5 stories a day. Today, it was maybe 10 stories, and a much higher proportion than normal were privacy related. This increased visibility for privacy rights (not to mention the Fourth Amendment) is a clear outgrowth of the DoJ's neverending quest for more surveillance under less judicial supervision. To wit:
Week in review: The spying game

Gonzales: NSA may tap 'ordinary' Americans' email

White House disclose details on surveillance

Patriot Act email spying approved

Bill would force web sites to delete personal info
Four steps back, and one longshot chance at a step forward.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fair Use Comics

If you're like me, you probably know a wee bit about intellectual property law, and you'd like to know more, but you don't really have time to research it much. Fortunately, for folks like us, there's always the funnybooks. Keep your eyes open this spring for a comic about fair use (to be available free online and also through Amazon).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

1201 exemption reply comment online

I was rather excited to participate in the 2006 triennial DMCA exemption hearings, especially after writing Catch 1201 (along with OHG), a systematic study of the last two rounds. Here's my reply comment (pdf).

If you go down the list of reply commenters, it's impressive how the field of communication studies came together to support Decherney (pdf), Sender, and Delli Carpini on this one. In addition to a reply comment (pdf) by Decherney et al. and my submission, reply commenters include:

Michael Haley, the executive director of the International Communication Association, submitting Reply Comment #26 (pdf).

Stephen Prince (an ASC alum and protege of Paul Messaris), submitting Reply Comment #28 (pdf) on behalf of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

A long list of comm scholars, capped off by Kembrew McLeod, with Reply Comment #16.

If it gets any traction, the "Penn exemption" will be a landmark. I, for one, will be there live this spring. Here's hoping Marybeth Peters plays ball.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Help Wanted: Must wear mark of beast

A Cincinatti video surveillance company,, has begun implanting employees with RFID chips. They're injecting these VeriChips into certain employees' triceps to serve as ID tags.

See the story here at WorldNetDaily, which is staffed by people whosse views are quite divergent from my own. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope that Americans' religiosity can be called upon to prevent the widespread adoption of RFID implants. After all, how could we get much closer to the mark of the beast?

For a more mainstream account that verifies the CityWatcher story, see The Register.

Props to fellow ASC student Susan Haas for tipping me off to this one.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Policy wonk finds fiance"

I don't generally use this blog up to post personal stuff, but this is worth sharing: I am now engaged to Tina Collins. I just finished comprehensive exams a couple weeks ago, which I used as an excuse to get out of town (Ocean Grove, NJ, to be exact) and surprise her with a marriage proposal. I've been in love with her for nearly a year now, and we're very excited about the wedding.

I promise NOT to rehash the blow-by-blow details of wedding preparation here, but I will at least post once more to note that we have gotten married. (In the mean time, we still have to pick a venue and date...)

Tina and Bill

Monday, February 06, 2006

Interview w/ Richard Stallman on LinuxP2P

Read this interview.

While I don't agree entirely with his views, Stallman is somebody who believes in freedom more deeply than anyone I can name.

Friday, February 03, 2006

My new article on SSRN

I've just received the PDF for my article, "Scratching Out Authorship: Representations of the Electronic Music DJ at the Turn of the 21st Century," from the editor (Rick Maffei) at LEA. The article is in the next issue of Popular Communication.

Here's the link, where I've posted it on SSRN. Feedback is always welcome.

Good news? LEA's publication agreement (pdf) allows me to post this publicly, forever. Bad? I had to PAY $18 for the pdf and will only get one hard copy gratis.