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Jun 25, 2001

Napster copyright ruling upheld
Music & MP3
6/25/2001; 9:42:29 PM 'A federal appeals court has upheld its February decision that Napster contributes to copyright infringement and must remove protected works from its song-swapping service...'

'The court's ruling leaves the U.S. Supreme Court as the remaining legal arena for Napster Inc.'


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Jun 25, 2001

Free-lance writers win Supreme Court case
Misc.
6/25/2001; 3:56:11 PM 'The court ruled 7-2 that compilation in an electronic database is different from other kinds of archival or library storage of material that once appeared in print. That means that copyright laws require big media companies such as The New York Times to get free-lancers' permission before posting their work online.'

Personally, I'm more intrigued by the idea that signing away "all rights" years ago wasn't enough to give the media companies the right to post stuff online. It leans towards the intepretation that one can only sign away existing rights, but not future rights. Whether or not that's right is an interesting question, if you think about it.


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Jun 21, 2001

A Microsoft opinion on Smart Tags
Website Annotation6/21/2001; 12:08:34 PM Dave link's to a Microsoft's employee's opinion on Smart Tags. I wanted to say a couple things.'When you write a piece, when any author writes a piece, he or she is always at a tremendous advantage over the reader. Theoretically at lease, you have at least familiarity if not command of the topic about which you write. The reader most likely does not. That's why they are reading, to learn something, to be exposed to new ideas that you do not yet have or understand.'This is an incredible naive (as in "unsophisticated") view. The writer is also at the mercy of the reader: No reader, no value in writing. And the power stems more from authority then authorship. Despite my familiarity with the topics I write about, my personal attacks on Smart Tags have probably not even registered on Microsoft's detectors, while Dave's obviously have.But there is a deeper and far more pernicious misconception here, one that is one of my core disagreements with the entire annotation crowd: That there is an asymmetry between writer and reader. This is simply untrue. We are all authors. Every e-mail we write, message we post, 'blog we run, all of that makes us into authors. Empowering "the reader" at the expense of "the author"'s expressive power looks good in the abstract, but in the concrete, we are all on the author's side of the relationship as well as the reader. It's a false dichotomy. You are an author.Any asymmetry between "authors" (you) and "readers" (also you) is a toehold that people with power (corporate or government) will use to gain more control (/power). This is why I think annotation for the purposes of increasing the "power" of the "readers" is a sick joke; in reality, it gives those with power the ability to start modifying messages as they see fit. Microsoft merely actualized the potential, the potential is inherent in any Smart Tag/Third Voice annotation system. There is no way to construct an annotation system that will not be co-opted or even subverted to use by the government or powerful corporations.We must defend both the idea and the ideal of the author-reader relationship being peer to peer. Everyone has the right to talk, and everyone has the right to hear no more and no less then what people are saying. Anything else is censorship... even if it's censorship gussied up as additions to content, rather then the usual subtractions. If we do not defend this peer-to-peer model, if we don't defend our integrity, then only those with power will be able to speak unmolested (you can bet anti-Microsoft messages won't show up on microsoft.com on the default install)... and people with power are the last people who need to be protected.Of lesser interest:'To suggest that the author knows best how to write effectively to each individual reader is silly, yet that's what I understand of you position.'What astonishing arrogance there is in the opposite position, that Microsoft knows how to "help" writers reach these individual readers. What astonishing arrogance on the part of Microsoft to claim that they understand us so well that they can insert themselves as in intermediary to help us poor, helpless writers get through to the people we're writing to. It may be true that the writer is ineffective, but I don't trust Microsoft or anyone else to "interpret" a message for a reader; it's utterly impossible for anyone to know exactly what I meant to say.'`Many articles, including yours, accuse smart tags as "re-editing" the work??'I do not understand why annotation supporters often think they can have their cake and eat it too. (If you're a supporter and don't think this, then of course this doesn't apply to you.) Either the content is changed, so the user experiences additional content not placed there by the author, hence "re-editing" the work, or the work is not edited... or in other words, the user experience is unchanged. Labeling the changes "meta-context" as this author does is pure nonsense; "meta-context" is an undefined and I'd say undefinable term.


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Jun 21, 2001

Teens Shrug Off E-Pervs
Misc.6/21/2001; 8:59:13 AM 'High schoolers just don't seem too bothered by the online come-ons. "The kids are generally all right," said ABCNews.com. "Kids assume it's all part of being online," said USA Today. Referring to the Pew study, USA Today reported that 57 percent of teens surveyed have blocked messages from hasslers, indicating that at least sometimes, minors can take care of themselves. Maybe a co-author of the JAMA-published UNH study said it best: "They know it comes with the territory. ... But we need to be concerned about the small group who are being frightened and upset."'Unfortunately, young people probably get more grief in real life than in chat rooms. According to the article's chief author, "one in three teenagers surveyed said they had been targeted for more conventional forms of offline abuse, such as being assaulted by students at school," Newsbytes said. None of the kids surveyed said they were sexually assaulted as a result of online doings. However, "this does not mean that such abuse does not occur, but that such events are probably not as common as others, such as intra-familial sexual abuse, date rape and gang violence, that do tend to show up in surveys of this size," the study researchers wrote. That's more depressing than any stock market news we'll hear this year.'What?!? No "Think of the children! Won't somebody please think of the children!?!?" quotes? Somebody must of slipped up and published a non-panicky article about children. The Standard, fire that person immediately! There's no place in the news business for reporting like this.


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Jun 21, 2001

Legislation urged to protect corporate data
Misc.6/21/2001; 8:52:39 AM A lot of littler interesting tidbits in this article. The one they picked as the lead story isn't even particularly interesting. I was most amused by this one:'In other testimony, trade group officials said legislation is needed to keep corporate security data that's shared with government agencies from becoming public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). '"Companies worry that if information sharing with the government really becomes a two-way street, FOIA requests for information they have provided to an agency could prove embarrassing or costly," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, an industry trade group in Arlington, Va.'That would be a novel, if slow, way of getting your competitor's secrets... charge them with something criminal, get the government to confiscate the secrets you are interested in, then file an FOIA request to obtain them. I suppose they're right to be concerned.Still, I don't see why this can't be written to apply to everybody, not just "corporations". A person shouldn't be subjected to that either.


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