by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 11:59pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 8:26pm
from the massive-overreaction dept
by Michael Ho
Thu, May 10th 2012 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Paul Graham has an excellent blog post that goes beyond the usual "do what you love" advice and explains why it's so hard to actually follow through on finding enjoyable work. Graham boils it down to two paths: (1) organically finding what you love to do, or (2) working one job to support yourself while you develop other vocational interests. [url]
- Conan O'Brien gave a commencement speech to Dartmouth College students in 2011. Towards the end of his talk, Conan refers back to a speech he gave to Harvard graduates in 2000 on failure. [url]
- Commencement speeches aren't always written by successful people with years of experience. Here are ten pearls of wisdom that you won't hear on graduation day, and as with all advice, take it with a grain of salt. [url]
- To discover more interesting education-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
Thu, May 10th 2012 4:27pm
from the killing-DRM dept
This is one quandary that Terry Hancock of Free Software Magazine found himself facing a little over a year ago. He had been working on two films and wanted a High Definition feature rich experience without the hassle of Blu-ray DRM. He had looked at multiple options, many of which fell a little flat in the end. However, one stood out as the most reasonable option for what he wanted to do. He had to write his own open, DRM-free, HD video standard.
Thanks to Nina Paley, we learn that Terry has started a Kickstarter Campaign to help fund the creation of this open HD video standard called, Lib-ray. Terry describes the motivation behind this campaign as follows:
This may sound like a quixotic goal for a lone individual without corporate backing to develop, but most of the money spent on developing Blu-Ray was spent on the DRM technology -- meaning the technology to make it not play under certain circumstances. The actual business of getting menus and video to work is much simpler, and a lot of the work has already been done. So a format without DRM, based on open standards is intrinsically more attainable.Think about that. Designing DRM is designing ways in which your movie will not play. Why would anyone want to waste time and money on such an idiotic goal? You would think that movie producers would want people to watch their movies. This idea is what pushed Terry to this point. Why waste time and money on using a DRM'ed media like Blu-ray to release what he wants to be a free culture movie? Even if he tried to work around the DRM of Blu-ray, there is no guarantee that the movies would play in standard Blu-ray players and he would still have to deal with licensing issues.
Terry has not set himself up for disappointment with this standard. He recognizes that it will not unseat Blu-ray as the mass market standard but rather is looking at this for use as a promotional format for those who want to distribute physical media. His examples include using the standard for films as Kickstarter rewards or to distribute films at conventions. There are a lot of opportunities for this to be successful in the indie scene.
On top of this, Terry plans to make the standard completely open and open source. While he does not have an open source web destination yet, he plans to have one ready soon. This choice is probably the key to gaining a more wide spread adoption. If he had tried to keep it locked up in the same way as Blu-ray or DVD, it would never take off.
I applaud the effort Terry is putting into this project. However, it is frustrating that such a project needs to exist. The insistence of the movie studios that all distribution of their films be burdened with DRM is not only ineffective, but it is also harming indie artists who would love to access the features without the restrictions and massive licensing fees. Hopefully, this project will succeed and give those artists the control (or lack of control) they want over their work.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 3:10pm
from the and-sad dept
Other claims might not go that far, but they do seem to go to great lengths to attack Palmer's success here, with reasoning that doesn't hold up under much scrutiny. Take, for example, the long and rambling argument of Daniel Brockman, suggesting that Palmer's success here does not bode well for the future of the music industry because (and really, the leap of logic here is astounding) using Kickstarter is similar to using a SuperPAC:
the Internet has allowed artists and fans to have a more direct relationship, but it has also given artists a more direct way to shake their fans upside down for pocket change. Much has been made of the fact that, in the traditional model, the $14.99 you plunked down for a CD at Sam Goody resulted in a pittance actually finding its way to the artist’s pocket. But if you give that money directly to the artist, don’t you now have a greater say in what music that artist makes? The traditional model allows artists to do their thing, with the label as an intermediary between the artist and the desires of fans. Without that intermediary, fans can and probably should feel free to express their opinions on the work that they are paying for directly.Brockman supports this position by claiming that these few "big donors" have too much power. Of course, the math doesn't really show that. The "small donors" add up to quite a bit of money here. Furthermore, it seems kind of insulting and ridiculous to claim that this is "shaking fans upside down." The whole reason that these models work so well is that they let fans support artists at a level with which they are most comfortable. That's not shaking fans upside down. In economics, it's called differentiating your market, and it's a sign of a good business.
What this may mean is that a small, rich, vocal cabal of music fans could grow to have an undue impact on the way music progresses, as artists within this direct patronage model have to appease those that put food on their table. I can’t help but see this as not dissimilar from the way that election fundraising has developed in recent years; in a sense, Kickstarter success stories like Palmer’s are the Super PACs of the music world. Think about it: someone like Newt Gingrich, for example, should have been out of the race a long time ago, except that he had the massive financial backing of an extremely small and extremely wealthy group of backers. Were he to be successful in his bid, he would be completely in the debt of those that paid for him to be there-- and the less people that pay for him to be in that position of power, the worse it is for everyone, right?
Furthermore, this whole theory seems to be based on the idea that fans "don't get anything" out of supporting artists they love. He seems to be at a complete loss as to why anyone would pay for anything if they weren't getting money back. To wit:
I guess the head-scratching aspect here, for me, is who are these people giving thousands of dollars? In the traditional record label model, investors give money to the label, the label finds talent and songs and matches them up together, and that investor money is spread out amongst a roster of artists; most of those artists lose money for the label but then the label will hit on a Mariah Carey or a Nickelback and make back enough money to recoup any losses. The investors are re-paid, the artists are paid (barely, maybe), and the label retains dough to keep the thing going. In this Kickstarter model, though, there aren’t investors, there are only donors; meaning that the artist isn’t beholden to the label, but is instead in some manner beholden to the donor.It's as if he's never recognized that people get all sorts of value and benefits in the non-monetary fashion. It's as if he ignores all of the great things that Amanda provides the fans who pay up. It's as if he ignores the fact that people aren't supporting Amanda specifically because of the dollar value of the return, but because they want to support Amanda. And they get value in that fact alone. This is the kind of thing you would think the defenders of "the rights of artists" would embrace. It highlights just how much fans really value artists. But, for some reason, it seems to make them really upset -- perhaps because it shows how much the fans value the artists, rather than the gatekeepers who used to take most of the money.
There's nothing head-scratching about fans supporting the artists they love. There's no reason to fear the "undue influence" of superfans. A big part of the reason they're superfans in the first place is because they absolutely love what comes from the artist's own creative work, and they're actually pretty loathe to tamper with that. Contrast that to the traditional record deal, wherein there is a single entity, who usually has overwhelming control over the direction of the product, and only has one thing in mind: how can it profit the most, rather than how can it create the most meaningful work.
Call me crazy, but I can't see an argument that suggests true fans supporting an artist creates worse output than a large corporate entity controlling the process. It seems bizarre to complain that artists won't get paid in the future, while also complaining that they aren't getting paid now because of piracy -- and then to complain even more when an artist figures out how to get paid.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 1:55pm
from the as-long-as-they-don't-drop-vowels dept
"I try to bring a lean startup mentality to my work making government more efficient, open and participatory," he said.While not a traditional industry, it sure seems like Congress could use some significant disruption -- and having people in there treating it like a startup might just be a good way to start.
"This technology-centered approach, however, is disruptive to the government bureaucracy and many in Congress because it demands experimentation, data-driven analysis and actually listening to our users -- the American people -- about how to make government work better for them. That's why social media and innovation are so central to my work: we in Congress do not have all the answers, but we can have a relentless drive to adapt technology to let taxpayers re-engage with government on their own terms. I firmly believe that just as new technologies are revolutionizing nearly every aspect of life in America, nascent tools like Madison show the transformative impact technology will have on government, and ultimately overcome the inertia of the bureaucracy."
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 12:36pm
from the but-of-course dept
"We know that we are sort of dancing naked through a minefield and there are much bigger institutions driving tanks through," Mr Shuttleworth says.Of course, this is the exact opposite of what the patent system is supposed to do -- but pretty much everyone who's actually innovating these days seems to recognize the same thing. What amazes me is that we haven't seen more of what Mark hints at towards the very end: countries providing explicit safe havens around patents. We have examples of this in the past -- perhaps most famously, the Netherlands and Switzerland in the latter half of the 19th century. The Netherlands dumped patents entirely, while the Swiss limited what was patentable massively (to the point that very little was considered patentable at all). And both countries saw economic growth as a result -- where industry and innovation flocked to both countries because they weren't being held back by patent disputes.
"It's basically impossible to ship any kind of working software without potentially trampling on some patent somewhere in the world, and it's completely impossible to do anything to prevent that.
"The patents system is being used to slow down a lot of healthy competition and that's a real problem. I think that the countries that have essentially figured that out and put hard limits on what you can patent will in fact do better."
It does seem that perhaps some folks in the Netherlands remember this. There's an ongoing effort called the Appsterdam Foundation (in Amsterdam, of course), where part of the goal is to help protect app makers from crazy patent lawsuits. But I'm waiting for even more recognition from countries that this is a real growth opportunity. Assuming that countries have the nerves to withstand having the US taunt them each year with placement on the Special 301 list, there's a real opportunity for a developed nation to have innovation show up in droves by massively limiting patents.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 11:20am
from the why-you-write-broad-privacy-policies dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 10:16am
Perfect 10 Case Against Google Dismissed (With Prejudice) After Court Asks Perfect 10 To Open Its Books
from the a-perfect-0 dept
As the TorrentFreak article linked above notes, Perfect 10 was so desperate to find some sort of evidence to use against Google, it offered $25,000 to anyone who could provide evidence that Google "aided or condoned copyright infringement." Considering how often we see people (especially in our own comments) insist that Google does this all the time, it sure seems like when it was time to present evidence no one could come up with a damn thing. And that's not surprising, because if you know anything about anything, you'd know that Google is actually pretty aggressive against infringement (sometimes over-aggressive) -- and contrary to the claims of people who seem to know nothing about online advertising, there's little money made in any advertising around infringement anyway.
What's more interesting is that, as TorrentFreak notes again, this sudden agreement to dismiss the case with prejudice comes after the court had ordered that Perfect 10 open up its books and "provide full insight into all internal communications regarding the court case." Given the accusations concerning Perfect 10's business practices (i.e., supposedly relying on such lawsuits as its business model), perhaps they felt it was better to keep that stuff from being revealed publicly.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 9:09am
from the good-for-them dept
The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts a medium of expression commonly used for the preservation and communication of information and ideas, thus triggering First Amendment scrutiny. Illinois has criminalized the nonconsensual recording of most any oral communication, including recordings of public officials doing the public’s business in public and regardless of whether the recording is open or surreptitious. Defending the broad sweep of this statute, the State’s Attorney relies on the government’s interest in protecting conversational privacy, but that interest is not implicated when police officers are performing their duties in public places and engaging in public communications audible to persons who witness the events. Even under the more lenient intermediate standard of scrutiny applicable to contentneutral burdens on speech, this application of the statute very likely flunks. The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s freespeech and free-press guarantees.It's good to see more and more courts rejecting these cases that clearly serve no purpose other than to scare off whistleblowers. Frankly, the state government should have recognized this long ago and not only dumped such a law, but then refused to bring such cases or stand behind such a ridiculous and unconstitutional law.
Unfortunately, this ruling was not unanimous among the three judge panel. Well respected appeals court judge Richard Posner -- who had already expressed concerns that if people were allowed to film the police, they might continue to do so -- disagreed with his colleagues and wrote a dissent on the ruling. Posner's argument seems to hinge on the idea that police might discuss private things in public places (not that any of the cases to date seem to involve that), and thus he fears that a wholesale rejection of the law goes too far. Even so, that seems like a bizarre ruling. Why should others get into legal trouble (and face jailtime) just because someone decided to discuss private info in public? Shouldn't the onus be on the person making those statements not to have revealed them in public?
Posner uses the dissent to launch an attack on supporters of a strong First Amendment, arguing that such an interpretation is inconsistent with how the Bill of Rights was written and would obliterate all sorts of laws that go up against the First Amendment. That seems like a rather extreme extrapolation.
Even today, with the right to free speech expanding in all directions, it remains a partial, a qualified, right. To make it complete would render unconstitutional defamation law, copyright law, trade secret law, and trademark law; tort liability for wiretapping, other electronic eavesdropping, and publicly depicting a person in a “false light”; laws criminalizing the publication of military secrets and the dissemination of child pornography; conspiracy law (thus including much of antitrust law); prohibitions of criminal solicitation, threats and fighting words, securities fraud, and false advertising of quack medical remedies; the regulation of marches, parades, and other demonstrations whatever their objective; limitations on free speech in prisons; laws limiting the televising of judicial proceedings; what little is left of permitted regulation of campaign expenditures; public school disciplining of inflammatory or disruptive student speech; the attorneyclient, spousal, and physician-patient privileges in cases in which an attorney or spouse or physician would like to speak but is forbidden by the privilege to do so; laws making medical records confidential; and prohibitions against the public disclosure of jurors’ names in cases in which jurors might be harassed. All these legal restrictions of free speech are permittedHe goes on to point out that recording the police in public may make them not be able to do their job:
An officer may freeze if he sees a journalist recording a conversation between the officer and a crime suspect, crime victim, or dissatisfied member of the public. He may be concerned when any stranger moves into earshot, or when he sees a recording device (even a cell phone, for modern cell phones are digital audio recorders) in the stranger’s hand. To distract police during tense encounters with citizens endangers public safety and undermines effective law enforcement.That seems like a pretty extreme hypothetical, and a nonsensical one once you think about it. If police are so distracted by someone filming them in public, they either shouldn't be in that job or need better training. It's hard to see how Posner's argument makes much sense, so I'm glad he was outvoted by his fellow judges, but his interpretation of the First Amendment is still worrisome.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 7:59am
from the out-of-touch dept
“Voluntary efforts are wonderful and I am hoping the voluntary efforts will give us some confidence for the legislation we need, because ultimately we still need legislation.” Leahy said.This is really ridiculous. He isn't just saying that PIPA is needed, but he's arguing that the market working these things out on its own is evidence to support the need for legislation. How does that make any sense at all? What's clear is that Leahy still doesn't understand why PIPA was defeated or why there was so much concern (and so little legitimate rationale) for the legislation in the first place.
by Leigh Beadon
Thu, May 10th 2012 6:59am
from the that-oughta-do-it dept
Immigrations & Customs Enforcement, still beset on all sides by unflagging movie piracy, has decided to join forces with the FBI in their proven strategy of targeting every pirate's one true weakness: legitimate customers who bought the DVD. Though the Bureau's lengthy anti-piracy lectures preceding every movie have had limited impact to date, this exciting new partnership promises to inject them with new life by making them last way longer. It will also reinforce the weight of the warning by reminding viewers that ICE's Homeland Security Investigations is also watching, not just those sissies in the FBI. In case that doesn't get the message across, the joint FBI/ICE warning will be followed by a second warning from the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which has a less ominous acronym but a much scarier logo:
Ars Technica has answers to all your questions, except for "what's that torrent site called again?"
Will the two screens be shown back to back? Will each screen last for 10 seconds each? Will each screen be unskippable? Yes, yes, and yes.
If you're thinking "why the hell would they subject the only people who aren't pirating films to this treatment?" then congratulations, you're not ICE Director John Morton. The only thing more insane would be starting every movie with instructions on how to invent the DVD player. Apparently Morton sees method in his madness, though, much like how shamans see method in their rain dances:
The idea isn't to deter current pirates, apparently (the new scheme requires all legal purchasers to sit through 20 seconds of warnings each time they pop in a film, but will be totally absent from pirated downloads and bootlegs). It's to educate everyone else. As ICE Director John Morton announced in a statement yesterday, "Law enforcement must continue to expand how it combats criminal activity; public awareness and education are a critical part of that effort."
Well, I guess it is good to see them experimenting with new ways of doing their job. And if it doesn't work, I'm betting they've got some more tricks up their sleeve, like 30-second warnings, 45-second warnings, and possibly even 60-second warnings if they can work out the complex logistics. With law enforcement this innovative, those pirates don't stand a chance.
by Leigh Beadon
Thu, May 10th 2012 4:59am
University Of Toronto's Lawyer In Access Copyright Deal Also Advised Access Copyright On Related Legislation
from the the-bad-deal-looks-worse dept
In a recent post about the bad deal that Canadian universities are being asked to sign with the copyright collection society Access Copyright, I asked whether it was wise for the University of Toronto and the AUCC (which represents universities across the country) to work with lawyers who have a long history of arguing to limit fair dealing, when what the schools need most is a strong fair dealing argument. I noted at the time that even though both lawyers—Glen Bloom, who represented the AUCC in the negotiations, and Casey Chisick, who advised U of T—were presumably giving the schools the best advice they could, it seems virtually impossible for someone to effectively argue both sides of a contentious copyright issue like fair dealing. Besides, even assuming good faith and full disclosure, it simply doesn't look good: both Bloom and Chisick have established relationships with clients that have a direct financial interest in limiting the scope of fair dealing, meanwhile critics of the deals they helped the schools strike with Access Copyright say the schools didn't assert their fair dealing rights nearly as much as they could have.
It's already hard to understand why U of T and the AUCC would go along with this—but it gets even more concerning with the addition of a previously unnoticed detail. According to an email I've been provided with, and a disclosure made at a conference, U of T's advisor Casey Chisick was retained at the end of 2010 to advise Access Copyright on copyright reform legislation. It's unclear if and when this ended, and when I contacted Chisick to find out, he replied declining to comment or even to confirm or deny whether the relationship existed. But what's obvious is that Access Copyright's interest in the legislation (bill C-32 in 2010, bill C-11 now), and their submissions to Parliament, revolves around eliminating the new explicit fair dealing provisions for education that are being considered, since that would cripple their entire business model.
One big question here is, will the students accept all of this? Ultimately, they are the ones paying—directly in schools that pass the cost on to them, and indirectly in those that absorb it and have to find the money somewhere else in the budget. On one side they've got law professors inside their own schools loudly and publicly criticizing the deal, saying the universities agreed to ridiculously high rates (which should in fact have gone down from the previous deal) and unfair limitations based on rights that don't even exist; on the other they've got the U of T and the AUCC insisting it's a good deal, while working with lawyers who have histories of representing, advising and lobbying for organizations with a direct interest in stronger copyright and higher licensing fees. Now they learn that U of T's advisor also apparently advised Access Copyright themselves on a related legislative issue that bears heavily on the negotiations (he's also actively registered as a lobbyist for a music collection society, the CMRRA). How exactly are students supposed to react?
Quebec (which has its own copyright clearance system for universities and is not a part of this otherwise country-wide deal) is in its third month of widespread and intense student protests over tuition hikes, which have grown into a serious movement. It's a time of unrest for Canadian education, and not a time to ask students to swallow a bad deal negotiated under so many questionable circumstances. Appearances matter, and nothing about this looks good.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 10th 2012 3:01am
from the but,-no,-it's-not-a-serious-party dept
Mayor Andre Bonitz, who was elected in 2009, has switched from being non-partisan to the Pirate Party of Germany. For the citizen itself nothing changes in the first place, but that the newly converted mayor have announced to start a regular pirate meeting open to everyone, where the people can discuss with him and fellow pirates directly.I'm sure some will mock this as not important or bandwagon jumping or something else -- and to some extent, all of that may be true. But it is another sign of just how much The Pirate Party has been able to shake up politics in Germany.
by Glyn Moody
Thu, May 10th 2012 12:29am
from the and-another-one dept
When discussing ACTA, there's a natural tendency to concentrate on the bigger players -- the US or the EU -- but it's important to remember that there are many other countries involved. One of those is Switzerland, which has just joined the doubters' club by holding off from signing ACTA. Here's why (French original):
Since the conclusion of the negotiations, the criticisms regarding ACTA have multiplied in various countries. The [Swiss] Federal Council takes these fears seriously since they concern fundamental liberties and important points of law.
As a result, Switzerland will not be signing ACTA for the moment. Instead:
The Council will re-examine the question when new elements on which it can base its decision are available. These elements could include the deliberations of the five EU countries that have delayed signing ACTA, the results of the referral to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission, or the continuation of the EU's ratification procedure.
Clearly, the Swiss Federation is taking a wait-and-see attitude, and doesn't want to rush into ACTA when others are taking their time. In itself, this latest move by Switzerland doesn't change much, but it does add to the growing doubts about whether ACTA will ever come into force.