Nov 22, 2000

Emusic Tracks Napster Naughties... Or Does It?
Music & MP3
11/22/2000; 10:27:37 AM

'Emusic engineers have developed a tracking system that can identify infringing materials on Napster -– something the file-trading company said was impossible.'

Ok, so how are they doing it...?

'By tracking the MD5 checksum, which uniquely identifies the original source of a song, Hoffman said that Emusic would be able to track files that were being made available from one individual to other Napster users.'

Flatly wrong. MD5 checksums are specifically designed to show single-bit errors. If you so much as change the ID3 tag of an MP3 from "The Beatles" to "the Beatles", the MD5 checksum will be quite different.  Not to mention any given song could have tens of different encoding jobs done on it, with different lengths, bitrates, and qualities.

This is not a technology to track MP3s, this is a technology thrown together to either A: Get free press from unskeptical reporters who would love to write a "Napster was Wrong!" story (as reporters have just as many opinions as the rest of us) or B: show off to some ignorant judge or jury how music can indeed be "tracked" and almost certainly be paid by somebody for doing so. In the real world, this only slightly better then useless... with some care, you might be able to track a particular encoding, but even specific MP3 files tend to mutate; changing the ID3 tags is easy.

Nov 22, 2000

Europe Votes Against Software Patents
11/22/2000; 10:16:58 AM

From the Slashdot article:

'The text of that article is in German, but thanks to Sebastian Bunka of Austria for providing me this translation: "On the CONVENTION ON THE GRANT OF EUROPEAN PATENTS all 20 memberstates have decided to not change the regulations to the patentability of software and to allow by this basically no patents on software." Else, you can check the fish, but the above is a better translation.'

However, a highly rated comment points out:

'This decision is actually only temporary. The EU is waiting for the end of a large consultation which should end december, 15. As such, the EU decided not to precipitate. But the issue is not solved yet.'

Nov 21, 2000

Murphy Munged My Mail - LinkBack Feature Announcement
11/21/2000; 9:12:39 PM

I tried to send an e-mail out to everybody who is in the LinkBack program, but it appears it got lost en route. So, I'll try to announce the feature this way.

The short version is that you can now include any of the LinkBack results in your own weblog, much as I do it in the column to the right of this story. Serious Instructional Technology is now also making use of this (because apparently the owner was lucky enough to actually get the e-mail), which you can see in the "Who's Linking To SiT" section. You can either host the simple listing, or the complete results (see examples of both in my templates gallery, which also has more technical information about the HTML output if you're interested). On this site I do both (see the details by clicking on "details" in the "Who's Linking To iRights" box). Serious Instructional Technology is only using the list. If you'd like to have this done for you, please contact me at

If you have a Manila site, this will be easy; just contact me and tell me which you want (or both if you prefer). If you have some other type of site, please contact me. If you would like to have this done for your own weblog, but it's not currently in the LinkBack program, well, that can be fixed too-see the 'How To Add Your Weblog' page.

For more information, please consult the LinkBack pages, which have been more or less updated to reflect the changes. Sorry for the lack of communication.

(The other thing to do if you're going to host the results on your homepage is to go to and change your Prefs to make your Update URL something other then your actual homepage. For Manila sites, 'your-site-url'/xml/scriptingNews2.xml works well.)

Nov 21, 2000

European Patents
11/21/2000; 4:13:58 PM

Europe is starting to debate in earnest about the patentability of software, according to this Wired article. The Software Patent Working Group of the FFII has prepared a list of silly European patents. Some highlights:

As any computer person could tell you, these patents are either vital to the functioning of any computer (global UI) or trivial (the other two) and do not deserve patents, either because they are trivial or because if actually enforced would completely prevent competition.


Nov 21, 2000

Good background info on the French Yahoo! Case
Country Watch: France
11/21/2000; 2:36:32 PM

Richard Salis has gathered a lot of good background information on the French Yahoo case, in English and French. Most notable, the translated court decision.

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