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Aug 28, 2000

Censorship Vs. Free Speech
Personal Commentary8/28/2000; 7:43:16 PM Ever since I converted over to news items for this site, I've had two separate sections, one for and one for Free Speech. While I was converting all the old stories over, I just made them into two categories, and just sort of separated them.It's bothered me ever since... What's the difference? Recently I realized... yes, there is a differenceFree speech is the right to express certain concepts, without fear of retribution from higher authorities (or at least, in theory without fear), and the corresponding right to seek out expressions of these concepts. There's two parts to it, both of which are necessary. Our free speech rights don't affect people in China, who do not have the right to seek out our expressions on certain forbidden topics.Censorship I've talked about in my Censorship Definition. Basically, I define censorship as the attempt to modify a message between the receiver and the sender without the permission of both. Between the two concepts, they cover the entire communications path, from sender, via medium, to receiver. However, the methodology of suppressing free speech and imposing censorship are quite different.Suppression of free speech, to my definition here, is an attempt to prevent the sender from sending some message, or the receiver from receiving it at all. This almost invariably takes the form of political action, since the sending and receiving don't involve technology. People are jailed for expressing concepts, or people are prevented from accessing them at all, perhaps by preventing them from using the Internet, or somehow blocking the internet indiscriminately.What has traditionally been called "censorware" isn't, for the most part. A censorware program installed on the end computer, blocking for just that user or users in a single household unit, is a suppression of the right of some household user to absorb certain expressions, traditionally ones expressed either as drug use messages, or as pictures of naked people. This is probably why censorware isn't a large political issue, despite the attempts of some people to make it one... suppressing the free speech 'rights' of children is not considered terribly objectionable by most people.Take the exact same censorware software used in the previous paragraph, and instead install it on the ISP computers, causing the exact same effect but now affecting everyone, and you've got censorship. Messages are stopped en route. A lot less censorship goes on then you might think. Why do these definitions matter? Well, the words are too well established to change their meaning now, but the important thing is the recognition that there are two distinct things occurring. Censorship and the suppression of free speech occur in very different ways, and thus demand two different strategies to combat. I do not think this separation is being made, and I think it is hampering the effectiveness of our efforts to combat it. For instance, most people don't understand the difference between censorware in the home, an acceptable if ineffective use, and censorware in the library, which if mandated for everybody is a serious blow to their right to absorb other's free speech. (This is separate from the issues of community taste, which might preclude one from viewing pornography on a publicly visible terminal, or other similar activities. Those restraints are often considered acceptable suppressions, and I'd tend to agree.) What's OK at home may not be OK in the library, because it's very different.(Oh, and before you check the Site Index... no, the distinction probably isn't made yet. I'll go through later and re-categorize them correctly.)


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Aug 28, 2000

LinkBack Problems
LinkBack
8/28/2000; 6:00:24 PM Since a few of you have asked, yes, the LinkBack program is having some problems. There's some work I need to do on it. It won't take long, but I haven't had time to do it. It also need to live on a new computer. The computer it was living on just went Linux. Fortunately, I've got one now I can use.

Anyhow, I hope to have it fixed this week, then I can add blivet.


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Aug 28, 2000

The Right To Read: Time Limited Textbooks
Misc.8/28/2000; 2:43:24 PM In The Right To Read, Richard Stallman writes a hypothetical story set in 2096 as a flashback to circa 2050 about university students who were not allowed to share textbooks by defeating the technological protections on them, or they would face jail time. He may have been off by about 50 years. As shared in this Slashdot story, Vital Source Technologies has created such a protected textbook. Its capabilities for control are limited only by your imagination.For the corporate spin, see the Vital Source Technologies page. Apparently, NYU is offering it this year... they are presenting it as a way of saving money, though if you don't already have a Apple Powerbook, that's a significant hidden cost.As an isolated incident, this isn't a problem. I fear how far this will go. I also fear what happens when Doubleclick.net buyts Vital Source Technologies, too.Great Slashdot post that sums it up quite concisely.


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Aug 28, 2000

EFF DVD Update: LiViD Leader Challenges CA's Jurisdiction
DVD & DeCSS8/28/2000; 10:58:42 AM I've subscribed to the EFF newsletter updating people on the DVD cases as they are occurring. They seem to have stopped archiving them, so here it is (as I assume they want this spread far and wide):This Tuesday, August 29th at 9:00 a.m., Judge William Elfving will hear oral argument over LiVid Project leader Matthew Pavlovich's motion to quash the California court's jurisdiction over him because he lives in Texas and has no contacts with California.DVD-CCA obtained a preliminary injunction when it filed a lawsuit in California state court against hundreds of individuals all over the world for publishing DeCSS software. DVD-CCA claims that anyone who posts the code is guilty of trade secret misappropriation and asked the
California court to assert dominion over any foreigner who publishes the software. The preliminary injunction obtained earlier this year against Andrew Bunner and other named defendants is currently on appeal to California's Sixth District.Defense attorney Allonn Levy of Huber Samuelson will make a special appearance Tuesday morning on behalf of Pavlovich to challenge the California court's jurisdiction over the Texan. A ruling by the judge on the jurisdictional question is expected at the hearing, which is open to the public.Matthew Pavlovich's Motion to Quash for lack of jurisdictionDVD-CCA's Opposition to Pavlovich's Motion:
http://cryptome.org/dvd-v-521-opq.htm
Note the opening of the DVD-CCA's opposition; it demonstrates either a complete lack of integrity or a complete lack of understanding about who they are fighting, particularly the first sentance; the last clause is an outright lie.My impression of the competing claims is that it hinges on whether or not, by putting up a website containing DeCSS code, available to the general public, this can be considered as entering into a relationship with the State of California based on the fact that DeCSS's primary 'victims' are in California. If we take the truth of the plantiff's claims as given, this does not seem legally unreasonable. Under today's conditions, however, this effectively means that internet activities in the US can fall under the jurisdictions of any and all of the 50 states in completely non-obvious ways. While I object to the implications in the Internet era, which has swift and effective communication to the whole world all at once, I predict that the sqaushing motion will fail, because under established common practice, that's exactly what should happen.Interesting hypothetical question: If at the time the current ideas of jurisdiction were being created, it was possible and east to violate the laws of potentially every other state at once (except the one you are in), would we have the same ideas of jurisdiction as we do now? What would they be instead?For extra bonus points, how would we handle this problem if the LiViD author was in Libya? It's not just theoretical, either... there are international parties involved.


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Aug 27, 2000

Dutch papers fail in internet copyright case
Country Watch: Netherlands8/27/2000; 3:42:48 PM 'Leading Dutch newspapers yesterday failed to prevent an online news service from providing direct links to articles on newspaper websites, in a legal ruling that helps define the limits of internet copyright. 'PCM, publisher of most of the country's national dailies, had sought an injunction against the recently established Kranten.com, whose site consists largely of news headlines. Clicking on any of these takes an internet user to the full text of the article, displayed on the site of the newspaper itself. 'There's a prime example of an atrocious Internet metaphor in the article:'PCM had argued that this was equivalent to "knocking a hole in a side wall of a cafe" owned by someone else, and demanding that those who entered by that route "bought a drink from a stall set up outside". 'Granted, if you read the article you see there's some reason for that silliness, but still... hyperlinks as knocking holes in walls? Some people just don't belong on the Internet.


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