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Monday, June 30, 2003

Information theft: Japanese publishers versus the mobile browser
The intellectual property wars are hitting augmented reality, part 27: Japanese publishers have started a campaign against what they label "information theft." Also dubbed "digital shoplifting," this is the practice of using mobile phones' cameras to snap pictures from magazines, then email them to friends.

They might spot a new hairstyle or a new dress in a glossy fashion magazine and they want to know what their friends think - so they take a quick snap with their mobile phone camera and send everybody a picture.

But the publishers of those magazines feel they are being cheated out of valuable sales.

Together with Japan's phone companies, they are issuing stern posters which warn shoppers to be careful of their "magazine manners".

(via BoingBoing)
:: posted by Bryan, 1:56 PM |

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Bloogle part 1: Google's toolbar
Google's new toolbar offers a new function: the ability to create a Blogger blog post based on the URL of the page you're looking at.
:: posted by Bryan, 6:23 PM |

Zittrain's copyright update
Jonathan Zittrain has a new article, brooding on digital copyright. Very sane, readable, thoughtul stuff.

He's also the brain behind the China filtering project.

(via Donna Wentworth)
:: posted by Bryan, 2:08 PM |

RIAA Plans to Sue Users of File-Sharing Software
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has announced plans to gather evidence and prepare lawsuits against users who share "substantial amounts of copyrighted music" on file-sharing services such as Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster. They plan to obtain the information on users under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

The EFF has issued a response:
"It's plain that the dinosaurs of the recording industry have completely lost touch with reality," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF senior staff attorney. "At a time when more Americans are using file-sharing software than voted for President Bush, more lawsuits are simply not the answer. It's time to get artists paid and make file-sharing legal. EFF calls on Congress to hold hearings immediately on alternatives to the RIAA's litigation campaign against the American public."
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12:21 AM |

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

US Supreme Court approves mandatory library internet filtering
The United States Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision blocking enforcement of CIPA, which requires any American library receiving federal funds to install filters for content.

Responses have been mixed, with the American Library Association (ALA) leading the criticism.
:: posted by Bryan, 5:09 PM |

Monday, June 23, 2003

EFF Publishes Report on School Censorware
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a report on internet filtering software used by schools and libraries.
Blocking software in schools damages educational opportunities for students, both by blocking access to web pages that are directly related to the state-mandated curriculums and by restricting broader inquiries of both students and teachers. Teachers and students 17 years or older (most high school juniors and seniors) should be exempt, yet suffer the consequences of CIPA implementation.

After testing nearly a million web pages related to state-mandated curriculums, the researchers found that of the web pages blocked, 97 - 99% of a statistically significant sample were blocked using non-standard, discretionary, and potentially illegal criteria beyond what CIPA requires.

via Boing Boing
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 11:30 PM |

The annual Reboot conference took place June 20 in Denmark. Some videos from the conference are now online. It's also the first conference I've seen with an official moblog.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 7:08 PM |

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Joi Ito Joins Mindjack Board of Advisors
I'm pleased to announce that Joi Ito has joined Mindjack's Board of Advisors. He is the first new member to join since the board was formed in August, 2000. Already on the board are Gareth Branwyn, Mark Frauenfelder, Mikki Halpin, Jon Lebkowsky, Howard Rheingold and Douglas Rushkoff.

about Joi:
Joichi Ito is the founder and CEO of Neoteny, venture capital firm focused on personal communications and enabling technologies. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan. In 1997 Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the "50 Stars of Asia" by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow" for 2002.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12:34 PM |

Friday, June 20, 2003

Can Blogs help a revolution?
Heady with thoughts of their own ability to "take down" Trent Lott and the New York Times, bloggers have turned to a larger target, and are calling for a much bigger swarm.

Under the call Azadi, Arak, Eshgh!, the Persian equivalent of Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy!, bloggers world-wide are being called to support the Iranian revolution.

July 9 is a proposed day of solidarity. Set to coincide with a nationwide protest in Iran, bloggers around the world are being called on to support the student movement towards democracy and away from terrorism.
:: posted by Jonathan Swerdloff, 12:22 PM |

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Hatch suggests PC destruction, but lives in a glass house
In a big shift from his earlier stance on digital file-trading, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch suggested that destroying computers containing copyright infringing materials might be a good thing. Expressing concerns about p2p-enabled copyright and privacy problems, Hatch explained his desire to consider attacking copyright violator's machines:

"No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer,'' replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads...

"I'm interested,'' Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights.''

After a Web-storm of reaction set in, the senator reiterated his stance:

“I made my comments at yesterday’s hearing because I think that industry is not doing enough to help us find effective ways to stop people from using computers to steal copyrighted, personal or sensitive materials. I do not favor extreme remedies – unless no moderate remedies can be found. I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies.”

However, the Senator's own Web site might be committing copyright infringement.

That MediaDefender outfit is pretty interesting, too.

(For another sign of previous Hatch, or Hatch 1.0, see chapter 13 of Lessig's Future of Ideas)
:: posted by Bryan, 1:19 PM |

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Sci-Fi Couture
Newfoundland company AbbyShot Clothiers makes clothing based on science fiction movies, though obviously not officially licensed. One trenchcoat is described as from "a recent sci-fi/action movie involving a vampire hunter." Prices start at $349US for a Matrix, er, "Lobby Trenchcoat". They'll even take custom requests if you're willing to pay for it.
(via Atlantic Progress magazine)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 11:13 PM |

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Conference today: Internet Law 2003
Internet Law 2003 is going on today. Topics include intellectual property, jurisdiction, e-democracy, litigation, and privacy.

It's being liveblogged at Copyfight and by John Palfrey. There's also a discussion forum.
:: posted by Bryan, 12:21 PM |

The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) has shifted to online distribution. The agency will close all physical offices and stores outside of DC.

There's a last-minute discount, too.

(via Federal Computer Week)
:: posted by Bryan, 12:10 PM |

Sunday, June 15, 2003

DMCA-like Bill Passes In Japan
Joi Ito reports that a bill similar to the American DMCA has just passed in Japan, extending copyright from 50 to 70 years.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 1:55 PM |

In Use: Mindjack's Summer Music
Editor's Note: This section used to be in the sidebar on the front page, but I've decided to fold it into the blog as a regular weekend entry. Every weekend you'll find recommendations from the Mindjack staff on books, music, movies and gear. As a bonus, buying stuff through these Amazon links helps support Mindjack. Cool stuff and good karma -- how can you go wrong? This weekend, some of our favorite new music.
  • Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It in People. Reviews of this album invariably resort to the old, "you just have to listen to it for yourself" line, and it's true. One of the best pop albums (in the best sense of the word) in recent years.

  • The Dears latest album, No Cities Left, is wonderful but unfortunately doesn't seem to be available at Amazon. Their last album, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, is well worth checking out as well. The influence from the likes of The Smiths, Pulp and New Order is a bit obvious at times but more often than not there are fits of originality (besides, that's not a bad bunch to be influenced by).
    update: download an mp3 of Lost in the Plot, from No Cities Left, on the band's official site.

  • Radiohead, Hail to the Thief. If you're anything like the average Mindjack reader, chances are you've bought this already, but if you haven't, you should.

  • The Sounds, Living in America. New Wave goodness from Sweden. Watch their videos here.

  • Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights. Amazon has a free MP3 download of one of the album's best tracks, NYC. Check it out.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2:06 AM |

Technical Difficulties
The server that hosts Mindjack had a serious crash earlier tonight and, as you may have noticed, the site was down for several hours. I restored a backup copy of the site and everything seems to be working fine now. If you find anything that doesn't work, please report it to info@mindjack.com.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2:04 AM |

Friday, June 13, 2003

Kabul's Cyber Cafes
BBC News reports on Kabul's cyber cafe culture.
Mr Bayer points out that to make up for lost ground, Afghanistan was using high-end technology which is still a premium service in the West.

Afghans access the net through a wireless broadband system which actually means high-capacity lines and faster connections.

"Quite a few Afghan children are starting to use the mobile wireless environment and we are looking at that as a very rapidly growing business environment," says Mr Bayer.

"It's a bit similar to Japan where they use PDAs, different kinds of phones and computers to access the internet through Bluetooth [a technology that uses radio to communicate rather than cables]."
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 9:58 PM |

New Northwest Webzine Launches
2GQ, a new webzine devoted to the art and culture of the United States Northwest launched today. It's edited by Tiffany Lee Brown, former editrix of the excellent Signum webzine, so it's bound to be interesting.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 3:46 PM |

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

In the new issue of Mindjack:
Reloaded: The SimMatrix
Bryan Alexander on The Matrix Reloaded
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 11:39 PM |

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Game world hacked, reality subverted by evil godlike beings
The virtual, multiplayer world of Shadowbane got hacked. It's like a Gnostic nightmare:

"Some players noticed that their money and weapons had suddenly vanished. A few whispered that tonight the monsters somehow seemed slightly bigger and meaner.
And then all hell broke loose.

Shadowbane had been hacked by several of its players. But unlike standard game hacks, where players gift themselves with super strength, health or wealth, these hackers managed to completely alter the rules of Shadowbane -- turning a suddenly wrathful game loose on its players.

"At first, players started speculating that there was a really bad bug in the game code," player Tim Wheating said. "Then we realized that somehow an insane god had taken control of our world and was out to kill us all." ..."
:: posted by Bryan, 11:14 AM |

Monday, June 09, 2003

Disney brooding over disposable DVDs
According to a report in Variety, Disney is considering releasing disposable DVDs. These would cost less than today's commercial releases, and offer no special features beyond the film itself. Instead, they target people who hate returning rented movies (who apparently number in the tens of millions), and are priced at just above a rental fee. Like Mission: Impossible, these disks are designed to destroy themselves in a short time (48 hours), leaving only a blank disk and an addition to the terrestrial landfill.

The initial investment market response seems positive.
:: posted by Bryan, 6:47 PM |

Homeland Security creates cybersecurity arm
The United States Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of a cybersecurity force.
The National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) will inhabit the DHS's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) Directorate.

The NCSD will provide for 24 x 7 functions, including conducting cyberspace analysis, issuing alerts and warning, improving information sharing, responding to major incidents, and aiding in national-level recovery efforts.

The new unit aims to supplement business efforts to protect networks, while mollifying critics who demanded a unit led by individuals who could be taken seriously.

(via BNA.com)
:: posted by Bryan, 5:39 PM |

RIAA devours target student's life savings
After being caught running a campus network search site which allowed users to share files illegally, RPI student Jesse Jordan ponies up $12,000 - his entire life's savings.

(thanks to Sarah Lohnes)
:: posted by Bryan, 2:55 PM |

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Verizon caves, ISPs no longer safe harbors?
Verizon announced that it would no longer fight to withhold information about four subscribers from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The industry group accused the set of Verizon subscribers of massive copyright infringement.

Verizon defended itself by arguing that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA, 1998) created a safe harbor provision for internet service providers (ISPs). The RIAA countered by holding that that provision did not allow for protecting an alleged infringer. Courts have found for the RIAA twice.
:: posted by Bryan, 2:44 PM |

US Senator to introduce DRM-mitigating bill
IP policy continues to evade left-right politics, as a conservative Republican aligns himself with some Democrats in opposing ramped-up copyright protection. Senator Brownback (R-Kansas) is going to introduce a bill that restricts digital rights management (DRM) implementations, while limiting IP holders' ability to pursue ISPs for subscriber information:

The Kansas Republican's bill requires that a copyright holder obtain a judge's approval before receiving the name of an alleged peer-to-peer pirate. That would amend the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which a federal court concluded enables a copyright holder to force the disclosure of a suspected pirate's identity without a judge's review. This law is at issue in the recording industry's recent pursuit of the identity of a Verizon Communications subscriber.

The main thrust of the Brownback bill, however, is to slap regulations on digital rights management (DRM) technology,

(via DRMwatch)
:: posted by Bryan, 2:34 PM |

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Fed Appeals Court Rules Video Games Are Free Speech
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis today overturned an ordinance passed by the St. Louis city council in 2000 which limited childern's access to violent or sexually explicit video games, stating that the ordinance was unconstitutional. See AP story, via the Kansas City Star.
In April 2002, U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh rejected a request by a video game industry group to invalidate the ordinance.

But the appeals court ruled there was no justification for disqualifying video games from the right to free speech simply because they are considered interactive.

"Whether we believe the advent of violent video games adds anything to value of society is irrelevant; guided by the first amendment, we are obliged to recognize that 'they are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature,'" Judge Morris S. Arnold wrote.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10:02 PM |

Monday, June 02, 2003

FCC eases ownership restrictions
The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) loosened restrictions on corporate ownership of media today, in a much-lobbied vote divided along political party lines. After this goes into effect, a single owner can hold both a newspaper and television station in the same city. The biggest tv networks can't own each other (although they are owned by other entities, now). Large radio companies now cannot expand their reach; indeed, the FCC might redraw some boundaries to force large (or "anomalous") holders over their legal limits.

Media companies looking to expand their holdings celebrated the ruling.

FCC chair Michael Powell defended the decision, arguing that it reflected changes in communications technology and supported diversity of expression. The FCC's take on their action:

Unprecedented Public Record Results in Enforceable and Balanced Broadcast Ownership Rules

The language of the de- or re-regulation might be too opaque and messy to have much effect, however.

(thanks to Jesse Walker)
:: posted by Bryan, 7:25 PM |

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