Sep 08, 2000

Downtime by Law
Misc.9/8/2000; 2:21:42 PM 'With almost embarrassing enthusiasm, the American judicial system has recently taken upon itself the task of spanking the Internet, hard and with relish. Each day seems to bring another decision designed to leave the technically savvy sputtering with rage. But as galling as the verdicts have been, the judiciary — with every curt dismissal of every nerd-approved argument — is doing the plugged-in set an enormous favor. Because if anybody needs a lesson in the way the real world works, it's the geeks.'Too true.I'd love to put money where my mouth is, but I don't have any. I run this site as what I figure is the best I can do.

Sep 07, 2000

Quiet after yesterday's burst
Personal Commentary9/7/2000; 6:34:33 PM After yesterday's burst of news, a relatively quiet day. Amazon leaked some addresses to some people; it was attributed to a technical failure and from the description, I find that highly likely. Other then a reminder that there is always failure in human systems, not that big a deal .Carnivore will march on despite criticism... well, who expected anything else? The list of people and organizations the FBI has to answer to is quite short, and "the public" isn't on it, except I suppose in theory.On a more personal note, I'm engaged in what's called the "capstone project" for my undergraduate education. This particular semester, the class was broken into groups of 3 or 4 and dispersed amounst 10 or so local businesses, to do something to prove that we can work in teams and solve real-world problems. We will do this by spending a semester engaged in activities that will bear a striking resemblance to my job... oh well, who really goes to school to learn things anyhow?The prof gathered a number of different types of businesses, including things like Melting Moments (an ice cream shop), the MSU Bootery (a local shoe store, emphasis on boots), and the like. At the last minute, one of these stores dropped out and a law firm was added.Guess who gets to work with the law firm? (No, I did not swing the issue either way, nor did the prof know about this site, as far as I can tell. Still doesn't, as far as I know.)This is the last time I'll mention this (and you'll note the lack of details like names), because I'm sure it would make the law firm uncomfortable. It's just interesting to see how life turns out some times.

Sep 06, 2000

Point - Counterpoint: Digital Angel in your Children
Personal Commentary9/6/2000; 10:27:09 PM You may recall the Digital Angel. Dan Gillmore engaged in a point-counterpoint debate with a collegue about whether or not they would put one in their child:

I side 1000% with Gillmore.The generation gap of the sixties is nothing compared to what this would cause. Children can't be kept on a leash; can you imagine what will happen when a generation of parents seriously tries? It's always dangerous to guess what sociological effect something will have, but this seems plenty plausible to me.On a more practical note, why not fight parental fear with parental fear: Will your child really be more safe with this perfect location data floating around the computer networks... or will pedophiles, kidnappers, and internet stalkers thank you now that picking a child to attack is a simple matter of running a query on the data to see what children are alone when and where. (They will get this data, even if it means getting a real job doing something legitimate with this data. This data will be leaked, it's too valuable to protect.)You must understand that destroying these devices will be possible. A well-designed device should be effectively unspoofable (although don't bet the child on the first ten or twenty iterations of the technology), but they will always, always, always be able to be silenced.Now, you've given the attacker a big pointed arrow straight at your kid, and the attacker has destroyed that arrow behind him. Where's your gain?

Sep 06, 2000

Legal Puzzle
UCITA9/6/2000; 9:34:45 PM

So, my question is, if you are not in Maryland, and you are faced with a click-through contract claiming to be under the laws of Maryland, can this non-contract (in your state) bind you to the laws of the UCITA, or, since it's not really a contract in your state, does it not matter as much as it has not mattered in the past (which is to say, untested water)?Who cares if the contract claims to work under Maryland's law if it's not a contract where you're standing?

Sep 06, 2000

Napster and DeCSS: Is it about free speech or free stuff?
General IP Issues9/6/2000; 4:36:07 PM The single most balanced article I've seen on the topic. Sure to be ignored because it's too sane.(No good pull-quote. It's actually a two-in-one essay:

  1. If you want music to be free, make like the free software people and make some free music and distribute it, don't steal commercial music.
  2. The content owners shouldn't be cracking down on people making fair use, they should be cracking down on honest-to-goodness pirates.)
Observation: If the music companies and movie companies weren't trying to rape consumers in the mistaken impression that we won't mind buying the same song 4 times (two cars, home, and work) and the same movie twice (once VCR, once DVD), I would not feel as sympathetic towards the "information wants to be free" people as I do (even though I disagree with them, too... this essay matches my opinions pretty well). It's a defensive reaction in me, trying to support the "information wants to be free" people as a counter-balance to corporate rapaciousness. I expect this to be a normal reaction as more people start to understand what these companies are trying to pull. If the companies would mellow, some of these problems may well go away on their own!

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