October 29, 2002
the miracle of compound interest working in reverse (copyright extensions)

Larry Lessig, Thomas Hazlett, Richard Epstein, Edward Welbourne and Frank Walker weigh in on copyright, stimulating and stifling innovation, the increasing costs to innovation brought by extending copyright. Welbourne discusses an interesting idea: the net present value of a copyrighted work at the time of sale to a publisher, verses the value after each 20 year extension, diminishing over time, which eventually is worth less than 1%. He proposes that copyrighted works go into the public domain, as averaged within a specific category, after the value of works diminish to 1%. It would require an economist to figure it out, but they've got to do better than Congress at this point.

For more on the percents, the economist's amicus brief in Eldred.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
October 21, 2002
Eldred transcribed

Eldred v. Ashcroft, the oral arguments at the Supreme Court, 10:03 - 11:01am 10/09/02.

And a list of the briefs filed in Eldred.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
SOS! Save Our Streams!

As of today, Internet radio stations are required to pay high royalty fees (2 cents for every 100 Internet listeners per song, with a minimum of $500 annually), retroactive to 1998, which may put many of them out of business, or at least off the web.

The Small Webcaster Amendments Act of 2002 would have offered other options for all parties involved, but it was stalled in the Senate this past Friday -- *just* in time to forestall benefit to the small webcasters (or buy more time for campaign contributions to come through? hrm...).

Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 12:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 20, 2002
satellite internet access and a printer... it's good humor for books

Brewster Kahle, director of the Internet Archive, is taking his show on the road. The Bookmobile is his mad creation, thinking it up about a month before the Eldred case went before the Supreme Court. Their motto: "Universal access to human knowledge." (~borrowed from Raj Reddy at CMU).

Brewster and his son, Caslon are driving from Palo Alto to Washington DC, via Berkeley and even Columbus Ohio (for a bookmobile convention!) to print out books (there are 6000 titles) in the public domain. They download from the internet via satellite, on the spot, publishing one at a time, books like a cir. 1900 copy of the Wizard of Oz (be patient, it's a big photo -- but that down-home populist toothy grin is so cute!), Huck Finn and Alice in Wonderland. As the stone out front at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh says: "Free to the People".

Archive.org has also been looking into making a moving images archive available for public use, too.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 18, 2002
Will Dmitry make it?

adding to maggie's post on DMCA and Elcomsoft....

Ironically, Dmitry Sklyarov and ElcomSoft's CEO Alexander Katalov have been denied visas by the US State Department in Moscow, even though their visa apps stated that they were coming to the US to participate in the trial.... No reasons were given for the rejection. The deal with the DOJ was that in exchange for Dmitry's testimony, they would drop the charges against him. How absurd can it get?

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Microsoft's Poor Social Skills

Microsoft still refuses to share, despite the anti-trust settlement against them. Tech companies and their lawyers are crying foul over the contrived hoops MS requires them to jump through in order to access details about the communications protocols its products use to transfer information (both internally and with non-MS products). Without such protocols, competing gadgets and software won't work as well with Windows as Microsoft's own products do.

Seems the only game they know how to play is monopoly.

Posted by Maggie Law at 02:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Citing DMCA, U.S. Throws the eBook at ElcomSoft

Moscow-based ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. became a household name last year when, at the behest of eBook software maker Adobe Systems Inc., the FBI arrested Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian resident and ElcomSoft software engineer who had been visiting DEF CON 2001 in Las Vegas. Sklyarov was incarcerated from July 16 to August 6, 2001.

After a failed attempt to dismiss the case on constitutional grounds, US v. ElcomSoft, the first (and, more importantly, precedent-setting) Digital Millenium Copyright Act criminal trial will begin this coming Monday.

Posted by Maggie Law at 01:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
October 17, 2002
DMCA and censorship...

The Register has a really strange article about Red Hat's latest update. Apparently, for people from the US, Red Hat can't, under DMCA rules, explain the update. Instead, Red Hat directs people to thefreeworld.net's site where it tells you:

If you're a US citizen and you are hurt because the DMCA doesn't allow you access to the information on this site, you should realise that you live in a democratic country and it's time for you to change the law so that you aren't hurt by it. Don't expect us to take the risk of going to jail because of a law which is inconveniencing you but write your congressmen instead....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 15, 2002
The Rite of Spring Could Be Expensive

A classical music fan responds to the NY Times article last week on the Eldred case, and expresses hope that works by artists such as Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff will return to the public domain. Just another argument for rethinking the revised law. And he's from my home town. :)

Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 14, 2002
Could MS be catching the open source bug?

Ummm... not. But perhaps they are moving, ever so cautiously, in that general direction? InternetWeek reports (here and here) that Microsoft's new (as of last July) licensing/auditing terms, along with by now famous security concerns (for example...), are sending some smaller customers chasing after the Linux bandwagon. Around the same time, MS announced that companies, academics, developers, and gov't agencies will soon be able to license source code for its controversial (some say scary) Passport software.

Posted by Maggie Law at 12:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
October 10, 2002
More on Bowers...

...and shrink wrap license - fair use issues. An amici brief was submitted asking the court to clarify their position that it's okay for companies to use a shrink-wrap license to waive consumer copyright protections.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 06, 2002
Dangerous? I Guess I Could End Up with Carpal Tunnel...

The anti-piracy group Music United for Strong Internet Copyright (MUSIC) launched a public education campaign last week, including a TV spot and a newspaper ad. Participating artists include Madonna, Elton John, Eminem, Jay Z and Britney Spears.

According to the website, "copying and distributing copyrighted music without permission is wrong, dangerous, and against the law." I'd say this sentence is a little redundant if you take the stance of this group -- but I guess that just PR speak, eh?

Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 05:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
October 04, 2002
Will they be at your door next? (Part 2)

That scraping sound you hear is U.S. District Judge John D. Bates scratching his head over the DMCA right now. The AP reports today that faced with making a decision on the RIAA v. Verizon Communications saga, he's having trouble interpretting the legislation that Congress passed in 1998, lamenting that they "could have made this statute clearer."

Meanwhile, music companies, file swappers, and ISPs are holding their breath....

Posted by Maggie Law at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Play it again, Sam

Time for déjà vu all over again. IDG News Service reports that a company called 321 Studios is less than a month from being ready to sell you its tools to duplicate your DVDs, bit-for-bit. To fray the entertainment industry's nerves even more, 321's software uses controversial DeCSS decryption code. (Not to be missed: this truly inspired DeCSS haiku.)

Posted by Maggie Law at 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Criminalizing Tinker Toys

Many consider tinkering (or reverse-engineering) to be an essential ingredient to the innovative process, but many others see it as a tool of the devil. In a 9/26 law.com commentary, Mike Goodwin presents compelling arguments in support of tinkering, a freedom that (like fair use) is not explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution -- but, he suggests, "maybe it should be." Amidst a climate of increasing Hollywood lockdowns (Disney's Eisner is quoted as declaring piracy "a killer app"), this column considers a variety of proposed standards, legislation (e.g. "copyright cop" and "broadcast flag" technology specs) and reports that provoke many questions about the freedoms that many of us currently take for granted.

Posted by Maggie Law at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)