Oct 27, 2000

Users look to FTC for help on reining in UCITA
10/27/2000; 3:07:09 PM

'An unnamed software vendor that [Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey] is currently negotiating with over a licensing deal is adamantly insisting that a version of the law enacted in Maryland at the start of this month be applied to the contract. Arne Larsen, information systems director at the 5,000-employee insurer, said the vendor is an anomaly among the many he deals with on software licensing. But that's of little comfort to him, he added.

'UCITA -- the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act -- is "a one-sided law," Larsen said this week. "It protects the software vendors. It does nothing for us." Such sentiments are among the reasons why Larsen and other users support the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) decision to begin exploring software-licensing practices at a two-day workshop that began here today.'

In the battle of corporate interest versus corporate interest, who will win?

Regarding the previous story about the DMCA, how about a UCITA-enforcable license provision that still forbids looking at the ban list, or bypassing malfunctioning security software?

Oct 27, 2000

Copyright office backs 'right' to limit content access
10/27/2000; 2:21:49 PM

'THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE, part of the Library of Congress, decided to allow only two narrow exemptions to a new federal law that makes it illegal for Web users to hack through the barriers that copyright holders erect around books, films, music and other content released online. The decision will be in effect for three years...

'The two exemptions the copyright office did allow are both minor in scope. The first exemption involves software that blocks children and others from finding obscene or other controversial material on the Web. Buried in the software typically is a list of the Web sites being filtered. Those lists are often encrypted to keep people from seeing them. But the copyright office said it should be legal for users to access such lists, in part so people can criticize and debate them. The other exemption involves giving people the right to bypass malfunctioning security features of software and other copyrighted goods they have purchased.'

"Minor in scope"? They almost might as well not exist.  In fact, they are so narrow they almost don't. The reasoning involved in the decision that we have a right to see the ban lists extends to many other things as well (don't we have a right to know what information a program is transmitting to others, without our consent?), but the Copyright Office gives us not the reasoning, not guidelines, but limited rules that will be swiftly circumvented or even struck down in court.

The government needs to stop trying to enumerate every possible case and make specific decisions... it won't work, there's too many specific cases and more coming every day.

'The decision is the latest signal that the legal landscape for digital copyright issues is sorting out largely in favor of copyright owners.'

Oct 27, 2000

CyberDemocracy: Internet and the Public Sphere
Technology & Sociology
10/27/2000; 10:55:27 AM 'If the technological structure of the Internet institutes costless reproduction, instantaneous dissemination and radical decentralization, what might be its effects upon the society, the culture and the political institutions?

'There can be only one answer to this question and that is that it is the wrong question. Technologically determined effects derive from a broad set of assumptions in which what is technological is a configuration of materials that effect other materials and the relation between the technology and human beings is external, that is, where human beings are understood to manipulate the materials for ends that they impose upon the technology from a preconstituted position of subjectivity. But what the Internet technology imposes is a dematerialization of communication and in many of its aspects a transformation of the subject position of the individual who engages within it. The Internet resists the basic conditions for asking the question of the effects of technology.'

This post was prompted by an astonishingly length Slashdot Katz essay, Cyberdemocracy and the Public Sphere, proving that good can come from bad.

Note that this was written in 1995. It's an interesting, if dense, essay.

Oct 27, 2000
10/27/2000; 9:19:58 AM

'The basic idea behind is to change the rules of the patent game such that it is to the advantage of participants to help solve the problems of software patents.

'The Open Patent License is in effect a mutual nonagression pact...'

The idea was tossed about earlier, but it seems is trying to actually do it.

Oct 26, 2000

Carnivore Demo Report
Surveillance and Privacy from Government
10/26/2000; 2:07:27 PM Unknown authenticity; it's from an anonymous remailer. It gives some more details about the capabilities of Carnivore, which are somewhat greater then the press has been thinking, if this report is true.  It can reconstruct a net activity trail, not just intercept e-mail.

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