Nov 26, 2001

The Chronicle: 11/30/2001: New Company Besieges Colleges With Notices About Copyright Violations
'Ms. Klimanis was caught by NetPD, a London-based company that has begun using sophisticated technology to sniff out people who share copyrighted files and to send out letters of complaint to university and other officials, asking them to take file sharers off their networks.

'The service seems to be an effective new ally for the recording industry but a growing headache for colleges. Until this semester, most institutions processed only a handful of copyright-infringement cases involving students every year.'

Interesting. I'm willing to bet my University would simply neglect the notices if they're coming in at that frequency. One or two might have gotten action, but anybody who sends hundreds of nitpicky little notices that clearly do not comply with the requirements of the DMCA will simply be ignored. The University simply doesn't have time to deal with it.

(Oh, and I do disagree with the guy who said it's "close enough to the letter of the law". The DMCA clearly requires a certain format in its notification notices, including as the article said, signitures and addresses. Both are, if you think about it, importent. Without those two things, this notice is essentially coming from nobody, and even that nobody isn't willing to sign it. Why should anyone care? Of course, the company does this because they don't want to actually follow up on any of these notices... THAT would take too much time.)


Nov 25, 2001

FBI software cracks encryption wall

'The FBI is developing software capable of inserting a computer virus onto a suspect's machine and obtaining encryption keys, a source familiar with the project told The software, known as "Magic Lantern", enables agents to read data that had been scrambled, a tactic often employed by criminals to hide information and evade law enforcement.'

There are obvious concerns about this, which I share. The article of course mentions them.

I'm skeptical about this, though. Carnivore was plausible, even before its existance was confirmed. This is a bit more far out. Writing code that runs on all versions of Windows is hard enough; writing functional stealth code is orders of magnitude harder. I'm not sure even Microsoft could pull it off.

I'll say this, though. I like Windows XP, but the only program I need is Radio Userland. If this is ever confirmed, I'm becoming a three-Linux house. Period.


Nov 24, 2001

Thirty countries sign cybercrime treaty
While I was snoozing the L-Tryptophan Slumber...

'Thirty countries today signed a controversial international treaty to combat online crime. Representatives of 26 Council of Europe (CoE) member states, plus the U.S., Canada, Japan, and South Africa, put their signatures on the document at an international meeting in Budapest.'

Interesting Slashdot post about defending against this. IANAL, but unfortunately I'm pretty certain that historically speaking, treaties have sometimes been self-enforcing. Somebody has to fight back when various branches of the government usurp power, and rhetoric is on the side of the "anti-cyber-crime" people.


Nov 19, 2001

The Internet Under Siege
'Who owns the Internet? Until recently, nobody. That's because, although the Internet was "Made in the U.S.A.," its unique design transformed it into a resource for innovation that anyone in the world could use. Today, however, courts and corporations are attempting to wall off portions of cyberspace. In so doing, they are destroying the Internet's potential to foster democracy and economic growth worldwide.'

Another Lessig missive.

I'm going to be short on posts this week. First, there's the obvious Thanksgiving issues, and I will be traveling. Second, I'm driving towards an initial secondary release of LinkBack, to be done soon. Third, when I'm not doing that, I'm writing something related to this article, which is taking longer then I thought... turns out I had more to say on the topic then I thought.

Finally, I've got some more conversion work to do.

See you later!


Nov 14, 2001

Convert Movies From R to PG13 to PG On The Fly
Content Integrity
'Trilogy Studios announced the launch of its "Movie Mask" web site - , which will eventually lead up to the release of its "Movie Mask DVD Player" and "Movie Mask Director" software.... The Movie Mask DVD Player, on the other hand, will allow its users to download a movie config file(for lack of a better term) which will have various portions of the movies to bleep/cut out depending on the rating which the person set. It can be changed on the fly while watching the video.'

In the interests of consistency, I note that the ability to download patches to movies is the same as the ability to download patches for websites, which have variously gone by the names "Website Annotation" and "Smart Tags". While there's nothing wrong with the authoring tools and personal use, distributing the modifications will likely (and correctly for a change) be seen as tantamount to distributing modified copies when (not if) the MPAA sues this company. (Unless the company aquires permission, in which case, as usual, all bets are off. All things permitted by the copyright holders are legal, of course.)

The most interesting thing to me is that back when DVDs were still just hype, we were promised this ability would be standard, and indeed, the capability already exists in DVD players, to selectively skip scenes based on the parental rating. Only small DVD players have used this ability to create multiple versions or interactive movies (basically the same technology). It's another case where nobody even knows what the demand is for this technology, because nobody's really tried it; the disadvantage of having nothing but large companies in a particular consumer space. People certainly say they want this, but will they put their money where their mouths are?


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