Another (IMHO more serious) problem with ShareAlike
One of the more bizarre results of the Creative Commons licenses is that there is no (legal) way to make a derivative work that combines CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-NC-SA works without obtaining further permissions.
Open-source programmers face the same sort of problem when the GPL comes into conflict with some other royalty-free but incompatible license, and both bits of code are desperately needed to make an application work as users would expect.
Copyleft doesn’t just stop the creator of a derivative work from choosing his or her own licensing strategy... it also creates a “remix hell” that makes “free” works mutually incompatible, even though most creators releasing their works under free licenses intend no such thing.
I do like the ability to display PDF documents, such as legal filings, embedded within a post, but I'm wondering if there are any simple solutions for setting up that sort of thing on your own server. Anyone know of any?
Does anything prevent you from storing the files on your own server and using an OBJECT tag in your posts?
Having not read the book either, I wonder if the author has considered transaction costs?
It seems unlikely to me that many municipalities pass laws requiring businesses to provide parking without a great deal of input from local business, so I suspect each area decides somewhat rationally among three choices:
1. No regulations, and (some) businesses provide free parking. This creates a significant â€śfreeloaderâ€ť problem: the freeloaders being other businesses that do not provide parking. Iâ€™ve lived in areas like that. I would frequently park in the grocery storeâ€™s â€ścustomers onlyâ€ť lot, walk in (in case the lot was being watched), and walk out two minutes later without buying anything, to go to the store I really wanted to visit. The cost of monitoring the parking lot closely enough to prevent such unauthorized use would be unreasonable... but Iâ€™m sure those locations that offered parking had to over-supply to make up for other businesses that didnâ€™t provide parking.
2. Regulations requiring businesses to provide adequate parking. The downside here, of course, is the need to rely on central planning instead of market forces to strike a good balance, and the imposition of a â€śone-size-fits-mostâ€ť approach that cannot readily adjust to the varying economics of different individual businesses.
3. Paid-for parking (possibly including businesses that validate parking slips for free or reduced-cost parking). This brings back the market, and solves the freeloader problem, but it introduces significant transaction costs, for both businesses and their customers. Not only do I have to fish the coins or bills from my pocket, and wait to get through the toll gate (or decipher the parking meter, or whatever)... I have to ask myself if itâ€™s worth it. Suppose the store I came to visit doesnâ€™t have what I wanted to buy, or the restaurant doesnâ€™t look so good once I see the decor and the menu in person? The toll booths have to be manned; the money has to be counted; validation/discounting, if used, requires further procedures; all to restrict potential customers from simply parking and accessing the businesses they want to visit without friction.
It seems to me that people â€” even, and perhaps especially, economists â€” tend to forget about transaction costs (when thinking about anyone other than themselves). Itâ€™s difficult to put a price tag on cognitive transaction costs; but in a world where information and choice overload is a normal condition, the value of one less decision to make should not be underestimated. It often means that the theoretical efficiency of a market becomes a glaring inefficiency in practice, and either a freeloader problem or the sluggish and imperfect adaptation of centrally-mandated requirements might be preferable to thousands of individual choices and all the accounting, enforcement and cognitive transaction costs that go with them.
To a degree, if you are "broadcasting" your location, you have no expectation of privacy. So in that sense no warrant is needed. (Cell phones, when on, are always broadcasting.)
But at a deeper level, I would say "reading" the data would require a warrant. I acknowledge that these are very fine distinctions.
Perhaps a fine distinction, but I think an important one... because (at least in principle) it allows service providers to distinguish themselves by their willingness to contest government requests and require a warrant.
Dr. Strange, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Data
A couple weeks ago, I saw a T-shirt that read:
Common sense is what tells you the Earth is flat.
In comments above, Dr. Strange develops a quite valid point introduced in Dr. Lessigâ€™s essay: information does not equal understanding, and the path from the former to the latter is often neither fast, easy nor obvious. Outside of the range of problems and decisions with which we are engaged day-to-day, we are more often than not ill-equipped to reach trustworthy conclusions from raw data given the amount of time and effort we are (quite reasonably) inclined to apply to a given question.
Recognizing a form of this problem two dozen centuries ago, Plato considered it a fatal flaw of democracy. We can perhaps dismiss as elitist Platoâ€™s view of the common man, but that doesnâ€™t resolve the dilemma. No matter how intelligent one might be, one has limits in training, in skill and in time. None of us can be â€śexpertsâ€ť in the analysis of more than a fraction of the matters which modern politics must contemplate.
So my first observation is that this problem is real, itâ€™s certainly not new â€” and it has nothing to do with the data increased transparency would provide. The problem is overwhelming now... in the political arena.
My second observation is that we donâ€™t see much of this problem outside politics; when we do, it happens when a question has become â€śpoliticized.â€ť
I donâ€™t know how to bake bread. Yet I can buy the bread I like at the local grocery and leave the expert knowledge to the bakers. And thousands of people like me keep the bakers doing their job well, all of us exercising our free choice without knowing any technicalities. Iâ€™m sure bakers have their communities in which technical discussion thrives, techniques are proposed and details are analysed. Fortunately, the much larger bread-eating public doesnâ€™t have to understand all that to both motivate and enjoy advancements in the art of baking. The marketplace doesnâ€™t care about arguments â€” along the way, you may need to convince an investor or an executive of the merits of your proposals, but in the end, a real product must be delivered, and the characteristic of accurate conclusions is that they produce expected results, while inaccurate ones do not.
In the sciences and other academic disciplines, peer review serves to implement a reality check. Iâ€™m a programmer, but I donâ€™t happen to know much about designing pseudo-random number generators. However, if I require one in a program, I can relatively easily learn the salient points about the known methods of generation and their limitations (for example, that some which are easy to implement and suitable for casual games would be bad choices if significant adverse consequences could result from a user finding a way to predict a portion of the sequence). I can get information which is reliable, detailed and accurate enough to use for all but the most critical applications without repeating all the work that has been done to arrive at these conclusions. Reasons I can trust this include that anyone who chooses to investigate that field can access the information and arguments upon which contemporary conclusions are based, and that study and research continue. I and other programmers can benefit from the accumulated knowledge regarding pseudo-random number generation without having to learn all of its intricacies first-hand.
In a more generic vein, consider Wikipedia. Given the breadth of subject matter, the diversity of source information and the openness of the editing process, I find it almost astonishing how worthwhile and generally accurate it is. Doubtless one can find errors; but it seems to me beyond doubt that Wikipedia dispels far more ignorance and misunderstanding than it engenders.
Alas, the Wikipedia model is limited in its suitability for â€śpoliticizedâ€ť topics. The market model doesnâ€™t work for collective decision-making, where the impact of an individual choice does not fall primarily on the individual who makes it. And the academic model is too slow to arrive at conclusions which must be reached in months, not decades.
â€śSeriousâ€ť journalism, I think, was once expected to do the job of bringing the issues of the day to the public in a comprehensible fashion that could inform meaningful participation in democracy. If it ever approached that ambition, itâ€™s surely jumped the shark by now.
My final observation is simply that while we desperately need a mechanism for developing, validating and delivering expert knowledge regarding matters of political interest to ordinary citizens â€” and to politicians! â€” and we have next to nothing capable of doing that now, I see no models of such systems in other areas that rely on or benefit from restriction in the flow of information. (Arguably some market systems make use of some limits on information flow, but this is in a competitive context, where the development of the constrained information is allegedly promoted by the ability to constrain it. I canâ€™t see any valid extension of that model to the sort of information in question here.)
Indeed, I canâ€™t help but think that the more information that is available about our political system, its issues, its actors, its inputs, its outputs and its methods, the greater the chances that a system will emerge that can â€ścrowdsourceâ€ť a real, openly reviewed and validated understanding of political issues and the choices we make â€” or that are made in our name â€” and their consequences.
Consider the fundamental question regarding freedom of speech: Is it more dangerous that (with full freedom of speech) a speaker might find an audience for malignant ideas? or that (without freedom of speech) we might, perhaps even with all good intention (or, quite possibly, otherwise) suppress information that would expose our errors?
The United States has, thankfully, thus far been nearly consistent in fearing the latter possibility more than the former. It seems to me that transparency must follow the same paradigm. Misinformation will be spread; erroneous conclusions will be drawn; but these are errors that can be rectified, and we can grow in sophistication and so learn to make them less frequently. The errors from which we can never learn, because we were never allowed to discover them, cannot be corrected.
I can imagine that we will make mistakes with greater transparency. Iâ€™m confident they will be fewer, and shorter-lived, than the mistakes we will make without it.
The thing is, the environment has changed and is changing. Twenty years ago, most people who used a computer in their job used one only at work â€” or, if they did have one at home, it was a completely different animal. It made just as much sense to users as to IT that workers should have access only to the specific functions required for their jobs. Who (aside from a criminal looking for opportunities) would want anything else?
Day by day, more and more members of the workforce are already familiar with the same computer technologies they are using in their jobs. Telling them they canâ€™t check their favorite social networking site or customize their desktop environment with the tools to which they are accustomed at home is as insulting and demeaning as telling an office worker twenty years ago that the phone on the desk could not be used to call home to find out what to pick up at the grocery or to resolve a banking problem during banking hours.
This very real matter of morale competes with the problems of security and maintainability, which are also very real. If the article cited displays only one point of view, we should remember that this is how it will appear initially to most workers. Itâ€™s up to IT departments to strike a balance, constraining their users only where the benefits outweigh the costs in ease of use, rapid response to change, flexibility and morale. Some of that means explaining to users why the restrictions in place really are needed â€” and recognizing that a restriction that canâ€™t be explained clearly might just be an easy way out instead of a real necessity. If all you can say is, â€śItâ€™s because youâ€™re stupid, stupid!â€ť... thatâ€™s not a workable business attitude anywhere, even if your â€ścustomersâ€ť are others within the same company.
â€śYou know what happens when users have unrestricted access, even after extensive training? They treat the machine like it's their home machine.â€ť â€” aguywhoneedstenbucks
Funny... I know a number of people with home computers. Only one ever had a non-trivial malware problem â€” one of the fake anti-virus scams, which took me a couple hours with Remote Assistance to clear up for him. Most folks I know seem to be able to run a computer that they administer entirely themselves, with no externally imposed restrictions at all, without screwing it up.
My point being that perhaps the problem isnâ€™t that users treat work computers like their home computers, but that they donâ€™t treat them like their home computers, because they donâ€™t feel like theyâ€™re theirs.
It strikes me that something often discussed here on Techdirt is missing from Steven Shavellâ€™s paper; specifically, the question of â€śWhat is the business of an academic journal?â€ť
As has been pointed out repeatedly at Techdirt regarding movies, music and newspapers, fixation on a single, historical business model can blind industries to the real source of value they add. Mr. Shavell asserts, without any real justification that I can see, that academic journals could not survive without aquiring controlling copyright interest in the articles they publish unless they charge the academics who provide those articles. Isnâ€™t this more a lack of imagination than an obvious fact?
Because â€śwe, as a societyâ€ť are just a figment the imagination of our broken implementation of democracy. We do not exist; only special interests exist, and the deeper their pockets, the more special they are.
He [Detective Superintendent Brian Hay] said it was illegal to use someone else's network bandwidth without their permission, even if that bandwidth was not used to commit another crime such as identity theft.
I have no idea whether this is established in Australian law, or whether leaving a network unsecured is free from the implication that access is permitted. If so, then it would seem reasonable to alert citizens to open networks, since anyone using them would be committing a crime unless they had previously obtained permission of the owner of the wireless equipment (in which case they could easily obtain a network key as well).
It troubles me that I canâ€™t recommend leaving Wi-Fi open, as a â€śgood neighborâ€ť policy â€” indeed, Iâ€™ve availed myself of open Wi-Fi when my own equipment was experiencing a glitch and I needed to access the Internet to learn what to do about it! Still, as basic CYA, I find myself compelled to suggest to anyone whom I advise regarding Wi-Fi to lock it down. Even for those not sharing files on the local network, I fear some nefarious use of their connection might be traced back to them. Beating it in court is rarely the point... practical damage is done long before a verdict of any sort is rendered.
the politicians fret about this, worrying how people in Malaysia might copyright the design first and "there is little that we can do."
Is copyright there a matter of â€śfirst to fileâ€ť rather than the exclusive right of the creator? It sounds as if the fear is that batik-makers will be blocked from using their own designs if someone else usurps their copyright interest by filing first (the equivalent of which I gather can easily happen with patents here).
If this is the problem, why not simply register a copyright under the name of the city or region â€” or an appropriate religious organization â€” with a Creative Commons license attached?
Any references or tips on a practical way to â€śspoofâ€ť an IP address? Because Iâ€™m currently spending a lot of time in Costa Rica, and Iâ€™m about ready to punch a hole in my monitior the next time I follow a link to a video only to be told I canâ€™t see it because Iâ€™ve committed the unpardonable sin of not being physically located in the god-blessed United States.
While the first, striking thing about this is the judgeâ€™s misconception that an IP address identifies a computer, thatâ€™s not the worst of it.
According to the article linked in the Techdirt post, the statement quoted was part of the dismissal of a suit in which consumers alleged that Microsoft violated its user agreement by â€ścollectingâ€ť IP addresses while stating that it would not collect any â€śpersonally identifiable information.â€ť
Since it is impossible to communicate on the Internet without temporarily obtaining the IP address of the other party, I presume they mean that Microsoft retained a list the of IP addresses involved.
Now, what could â€śpersonally identifiable informationâ€ť mean to an ordinary person reading a user agreement? How about a street address, a license plate number or a telephone number? None of these â€śidentify a person,â€ť as the judge claims â€śpersonally identifiable informationâ€ť must do; but of course, these things are exactly what we understand the term to include. â€śPersonally identifiable informationâ€ť is information that can be used, either by itself or with other available information, to provide significant help in identifying someone â€” either by connecting the information to a standard form of identification (such as a name or social security number), or by recognizing when the same person is encountered again in the future (such as with a tracking cookie). It is also quite sufficient to fall within an ordinary understanding of the phrase if the information makes it probable (not necessarily certain) that the person in question is a member of a close unit (such as a family or household) that can be identified or recognized.
Privacy is less straightforward, and complicated by two different senses of the word. My street address is not â€śprivateâ€ť in the sense that my diary is private: anyone can stand on the street in front of my house and determine my address, while no one can (legally) sneak into my home and read my diary. We also use the word â€śprivateâ€ť to describe how we expect an entity which acquires information about us to behave in regard to that information. In this context, â€śprivateâ€ť is not so much a characteristic of the information as an indication that there are limits we expect the entity which gathers the information to honor. These limits come from a shared (or not) understanding of what constitutes civilized behavior. If I give you my phone number, I have an expectation of what you might do with it, and what you should not do with it. I probably wonâ€™t be disturbed if you give it to UPS to help them deliver a package youâ€™ve sent to my house; I probably will be upset if you write it on the bathroom wall in the local park.
As the ability to store, aggregate and cross-reference data has exploded, the idea of â€śprivateâ€ť as a yes-or-no attribute is no longer very useful. There is still, of course, the privacy of the diary, whether itâ€™s on paper or in a computer file; but the other sort of privacy â€” the one involved in user agreements and privacy policies â€” is no longer comprehensible in terms of one bit of information being private and another public. Information about you that can be used against you is out there; privacy now must concern what uses of information are socially and legally acceptable, and how easy it is for entities which might not honor social and legal boundaries to access sensitive information. (They can get it if they work hard enough; practicality, not possibility, is the realistic limitation.)
I contend, for example, that though a prospective employer obviously could search LiveJournal or Facebook, or your private web site, for information about you, it should be seen as improper to use that as input to a hiring decision (unless youâ€™ve freely offered it as a reference). Our ability to speak our minds should not be dictated by fear of future unemployment. This is an example where the information itself canâ€™t be called â€śprivateâ€ť in any real sense â€” itâ€™s intentionally been posted for all to see â€” yet some uses of that information impinge on our liberty (effectively creating a kind of â€śprior restraintâ€ť), and I think those uses can reasonably be said to invade our privacy.
It makes no sense to say an IP address, or any other data, is private, or not private; what is relevant, if you are retaining data, is why you are keeping it, and what you will do (or allow to be done) with it. If you are providing added value to your users, thatâ€™s generally good; but if your use of data about your users subjects them to unwelcome intrusions, or exposes information about them that they would have preferred not be so widely or easily known, or just generally works against them (even if you donâ€™t disclose the data to a third party), they will consider it a breach of privacy.
Advertising is ubiquitous, yet very little of it is directed at presenting a rational appeal. To the extent consumers are swayed by advertising, they are not rational; to the extent they are not swayed, business is not rational in purchasing advertising.
Advertising is a 100-plus-billion dollar per year testament to the inapplicability of the theory of rational economic agents. I fail to understand why anyone still takes it seriously.
A public entity uses public funds to set up a camera to record occurences in a public place --- presumably without a warrant, since there would be no specifics known in advance, and therefore presumably doing nothing that would not be permissible for any ordinary member of the public. Can someone explain to me why the resulting video wouldn't be public property anyway? If I do something embarassing in the middle of Main Street, since when do I have a complaint if someone publishes a picture of it? Peeking in my window is one thing, but if I make an ass of myself in front of your face, isn't that my problem?
Isn't simplification the point of an expert witnes
You have to wonder, though, what the point is in questioning an expert if his testimony has to be kept simple enough for this judge to understand.
I could easily be mistaken, but isn’t the point of having an expert witness that unlike an ordinary witness, within his or her field of expertise he or she may be asked for conclusions, and those conclusions are to be given weight in reaching a decision? We wouldn’t expect an expert medical witness in a murder case to lead a jury to a full understanding of why various toxicological data imply that the victim could not have died of a particular sort of poisoning... merely to attest that such is the case. I think the purpose of an expert witness must be precisely to convert esoteric knowledge to conclusions ordinary folk can understand.