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Apr 30, 2001

Attorneys general: Law lagging behind technology
Administrative4/30/2001; 10:37:51 PM 'States have fraud-protection laws they could use to pursue egregious offenders, but little for run-of-the-mill Web sites. Attorney General Janet Napolitano thinks having an Internet-specific privacy law would offer consumers basic protections and make prosecutions easier.''Other attorneys general echoed Napolitano's frustrations this past week at a National Association of Attorneys General meeting devoted to online legal trends. Their chief complaint: The law simply cannot catch up with technology.''"It's this unsettling feeling that the ground is shifting (from) under our feet too fast for us to understand what's happening," said William Sorrell, Vermont's attorney general....''How strong should any protections be? Should states move ahead of Congress? Should states retain the right to later pass tougher laws than whatever Washington ultimately decides?'Disconnect. The first three paragraphs are talking about specifics, the last one about generalities. There's nothing wrong with thinking about the two of them, there is a problem with mixing them up.I think what's really necessary at this point is a restatement of our root priorites. What rights do people have? Is the right to privacy real? Work out from there. (Forget corporations for a moment; compared to the harm done to people, there's no real way to hurt corporations in general.) We're spinning our wheels because we can't even agree on what copyright should be doing... what makes anyone think we can pass a decent law about the current particulars when we haven't got even a vague idea about the generalities?


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Apr 27, 2001

Napster Judge Utterly Frustrated
Music & MP34/27/2001; 9:59:16 PM In the RED cor-NER, weighing in at ten to the forty-three kilos, REALITY! In the BLUE cor-NER, weighing in around ten to the second kilos, THE LAW!SEE the law and reality collide! FEEL the bone crushing hits of the reigning champ as it rains down holy terror on the newcomer! WATCH as THE LAW tries the mathematically IMPOSSIBLE! LAUGH MANIACALLY as your intuition is proved correct! TASTE the FEAR of the dreaded RIAA in this MATCHUP to end all MATCHUPS!

'A federal judge overseeing the case against Napster on Friday essentially threw up her hands and appealed for help in stopping the exchange of copyrighted songs.... removing the songs has proved exceptionally difficult, since Napster users constantly make them reappear under different file names. Napster has said it cannot keep up with every variation.''On Friday, Patel said that unless an appeals court clarifies its ruling in the case, she cannot force Napster to identify and remove all those files.'
REALITY, the WINNUH and steee-eeeeel CHAM-PEE-UM!Folks, how about a round of applause for the loser! Nice try!PS: No, I don't seriously think it's over... it just fit with the theme. Roll with it, OK...?PPS: With apologies... or thanks, whichever you prefer... to blackholebrain.


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Apr 27, 2001

Uncopyable CD Strikes the Wrong Note
Music & MP34/27/2001; 5:23:28 PM 'Consumers love the compact disc, but the recording industry doesn't always feel the same love for the humble CD. Sure, it's cheap and sounds good -- but it's also cheap and easy to duplicate and share with a few hundred million friends and family members on the Internet....''This interrogate-the-owner tactic used to be the standard procedure with software in the '80s, when programs routinely asked you to type some phrase or word from a page of the manual. Developers gave up this approach when they realized it was too much of a hassle for legitimate users -- and cost them too much in technical support expenses. Today, SunnComm insists it's necessary. Will the music industry learn this lesson all over again?'This lesson has been taught before. The smart money's on these schemes failing, and consumers eventually rebelling.Hey, maybe we'll get lucky and these companies will start coming up with copy protection schemes for each seperate CD... then we can experience a revival of the crackerz scene, which while still technically alive and well, has taken serious hits from the ease of pirating modern mostly-unprotected games. Better brush up on my b1ff-sp34k.


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Apr 27, 2001

How to Crack Open an E-Book
Hacking & Cracking4/27/2001; 5:17:33 PM 'A hacker claims he or she has cracked the code and can remove the encryption on e-books in the RocketBook format, allowing the extraction of the content as plain text.''At the end of March, the hacker started making this information available publicly, and posted one URL to Gemstar's forums and the code and instructions to other Web forums.' '"My goal was, and continues to be, to point out the weaknesses of DRM (digital rights management) systems, in the hope that these systems will either grow so much to collapse under their own weight or be abandoned as futile," the poster said.'


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Apr 27, 2001

I Have a (Digital) Dream
Digital Divide4/27/2001; 4:55:02 PM '"You don't want to reach a fatalistic attitude," said Henry Jenkins, director of comparative media studies at MIT, and co-organize the conference. "You have to hope for a utopian world. Martin Luther King held up the dream we have to frame for the digital population of the United States. '"We need a diverse cyberspace. Not a race-blind cyberspace."'Question for pondering: What is a "diverse" cyberspace? "Cyberspace" is easily as large as a nation, if you add up all the people in all the world connected to it. Does Switzerland need to be more diverse? I don't think one can rationally talk about "cyberspace" in this context, any more then we could seriously discuss "diversifying" Switzerland.The existance of sites catering to various races or cultures? Such sites already exist; they must not mean that.Shall we tag people with their race and perhaps gender in online environments, so people can see the "diversity" around them? Yep, that's stupid, I'm running out of ideas.How do you convert "We need a diverse cyberspace. Not a race-blind cyberspace." into a concrete action? When you boil it down, this entire article is essentially content free. It's really the same story as the music companies, or the movie companies: A story about people who have built lives around a social structure ("race" and "ethinicity" and "relations" between them, or scarcity economics as the case may be) that essentially does not exist in cyberspace, and are trying to drag the old stuctures in with them and impose them on an unwilling and uncooperative Internet."Race" and "ethnicity" exist everywhere, of course; nobody ceases to be human by going online. But the "relations" part naturally changes wildly, because the environment is totally different. So much of "race relations" is tied up in the physically interacting with people; I see your skin is differently colored and your clothes are strange, your accent and language is strange, you smell of foods I don't eat, so I leap to conclusions about you. That's not the whole story, of course, but that's where it all begins. Little of that exists online, so it should be no surprise that there are changes to "race relations" that render them virtually unrecognizable once the foundation of traditional race relations is removed.The concept of "diversity" as it is known at large universities is inextricably tied to the physical world, and getting "diverse" people physically together. If people want to ensure "diversity" online, they really need a more concrete idea of what "diversity online" means. If they force the old relationships into cyberspace, they are liable to do far more harm then good, just as the music companies want to do. Only this time it's not merely economic damage, people will be hurt.This is of course a seperate issue from getting disadvantaged people online, which is the only digital divide I believe truly exists... but then, that has little to do with race and more to do with economic status. The article, and the people with whom it deals, conflate these two issues... because the importance of getting the disadvantaged online is almost self-evident, while "preserving diversity" is nearly meaningless.


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