Monday, February 27, 2006

Mixed Compu-law Goodness

Or badness depending on how you look at things. The first link goes to a Bit-Tech interview of Cory Doctorow. (second link gets you there) The interview delves into Doctorow's perspective on DRM, and says some things that shouldn't get back to those on the supply side of the coin. I can see the worst solution to the problem he presents as proprietary hardware. While Apple and Microsoft have already taken similar approaches, could you imagine having to by hardware specific for your media. He raises some good points too, like why do we need DRM if its pointless in controlling the distribution of digital media. He also makes a great point about the evolution of the WIPO, and how it will result in an oppressive digi-overlord of the internet that will tear down the structure of the internet, and exploit all its users through its software and hardware. Its a good read.

Link number 2 comes from the L.A. Times about recent allegations of voter fraud. What is most interesting about this particular article is that it details a criminal action against the whistleblower for illegal access to technology. For some reason, I can't keep the palm of my hand from smacking my forehead. Really, I can't tell if this is a new nervous twitch, or some other disease communicated by legal futility. Logically, this doesn't make sense. Don't we want whistleblowers to alert the media or authorities to criminal activity, especially when it detrimentally impacts a Constitutionally guaranteed right? I will let that one simmer for a while.

Finally, since everything interesting seems to be happening in California today, the Ventura County Star is reporting on the Justice Department's response to Google's refusal to produce internet search logs. The article notes that the DOJ responded with this, "the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users, [so] privacy rights would not be violated." Interesting, I thought that subpoenas required probable cause, and specificity for the purpose satisfying probable cause...Maybe Attorney General Gonzales forgot this. I mean, why does the government need the information if it won't lead to any child molesters or people involved in the kiddy porn trade? Thanks to Google for sticking up for our rights, at least in the beginning.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Following up on yesterday

The title link goes to an article about how some scholars believe that new technology is good for the entertainment industry. I think all the concern about this issue stems from the uncertainty around changing market places. Since the rise of readily available media technology, and the digital era, we consume information differently. Instead of fearing and using anti-consumer policy to perturb technological advancement, media outlets should embrace the new technology, the new market place, and new concepts of protecting investments to make money of hurting the consumers.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Tech: Revisiting copyright...

A couple of interesting articles came across today. One story detailed the requirements for licensing under the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD standard. The other details the evil of this scheme and how it abuses the end user. Basically, these new licensing schemes aim to prevent the free flow of information by making practically everything proprietary. While I am all for business making a buck, it certainly shouldn't be at the expense of the consumer. These kinds of restrictions destroy consumer confidence, and tear apart the fabric which undergirds the era of limited restrictions to information in the internet age. Information is a power, that if wielded effectively, can make more money than it looses. New assaults by the RIAA and the MPAA demonstrate prime examples of how now the industry leaders are abusing the system to take advantage of the little guy. Continuing down this road will disenfranchise the end user, and place so many restrictions on technology that things as we know it will be tied up in profit sharing schemes.

A similar situation is developing with certain forms of web development. This article discusses the patent recently granted to a California company for AJAX, a rich media internet content software bundle. Many web developers utilize AJAX as a platform for creating dynamic websites. Many sites use AJAX, but are now subject to licensing fees. This, along with the developments with HD content demonstrate that the current system governing the interplay of law and technology is broken. The question is determining how to resolve the problems like archaic concepts of intangible property ownership. I don't have the answers, but a more libertarian approach would be my suggestion. If you make money on the initial release of information, like movies, music, or books, then criminalize sharing the information but permit the end user to transpose or convert the information in a manner in which they please. The purveyors of the information could also add a small licensing charge to the sale of applicable technology formats. Adding a surcharge to the sale of mp3 players is one example. While this does pose more risk, the interest in word of mouth marketing, the ease of availability, and the allure of expansive usability will draw more consumers, and quell the so called "piracy" culture. Much of this culture is driven by the oppressive practices of the major media companies. Alleviating this motivation will stabilize the distribution scheme. I think, to some extent, the open source movement demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach. Just a thought.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Finally, a Step in the Right Direction...

Wired is reporting a story detailing the decision of a Federal District Court requiring the disclosure of documents about the NSA domestic spying program. While this disclosure is likely only going to be to the court, it marks a shift away from the political rhetoric that has been protecting these allegedly warrantless wire-taps. This looks like the first formidable challenge to the executive power. Generally speaking, the law does not seem to favor the language used to buttress the program. We will just have to wait and see what happens next.

Also, to lesser fanfare, The Grey Area in print was published last week. It can be found on the web here. My oped this month focuses on the conceptual ideas of responsibility and freedom of speech with the recent events involving a Denmark news paper, and a comic depicting a religious figure-head. Let me know what you think.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Pictures I Promised...

So about a week ago, or so, I competed in the National Trial Competition regional that took place in Champaign, Illinois. The competition was great. It looks like we tied for 9th based on points, but we seeded 11th overall based on judicial votes, win-loss records, and points. Attached in this post are some pictures of the weekend. I will have more once we collect them from everyone.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Guess It was coming...

Click here. Be dismayed by the things the RIAA is saying. Be even more amazed that they are saying all the songs on your iPod you didn't buy on iTunes are illegal. Imagine, the NSA plus the RIAA equals billions in lawsuit revenue for "illegal" copying of music. Does anyone else thing this needs to stop?

Monday, February 13, 2006


So, we made it back from the competition without any major incident this weekend. Ends up the team I competed on placed 9th overall in the points. We actually tied the team that advanced as the 8th seat. This is better than we did last year. I don't mind, really, it was the most fun I have ever had doing it, and we did so well that round that I am more than pleased to have it be my last Mock Trial round ever. Now I have to focus on the stuff for my writing class, my seminar paper (more as the research goes), and my job search.

My computer problem is a hardware based, and this is a final diagnosis. Ends up after several diagnostics its a hardware issue, specifically a heat issue. I cracked the case to see if I could fix it by applying thermal compound. To my dismay, IBM did not put a heatsync on the processor, so there is no way to conduct heat to the fan, and cool the processor. It is going to a local service center Wednesday morning, hopefully it will get fixed after this whole problem. That remains to be seen. Going to try to get a new display too.

I am really looking forward to school being over, getting out of education, especially legal education. Only about 100 days, one big paper, a Moot Court competition, three smaller papers, and a job search until graduation. I literally can't wait.

Friday, February 10, 2006

As If the World Wasn't Messed-up Enough Already

The title link goes to a post on WesaTurtle's blog that she linked from Monkeyfilter. Basically, it concerns a House Resolution to repeal the 22nd Amendment. Historically, the 22nd Amendment insured that we wouldn't be subjected to a majoritarian dictator. While the likelihood that this would affect President Bush is incredibly slim since the bill was introduced in 2005, and it takes 7 years or so with subsequent ratification by a strong majority of states, its still scary that there could be an end to term limits on presidents. This limit is in place to avoid this possibility. Next thing you know, the Governator will be our next President.

I am competing with my Mock Trial team in Champaign, Illinois this weekend. Things have been pretty hectic, but I will have updates with pictures (for that reader that continues to ask for less text) in the next couple of days once things are over, and everything settles down. I am up to present my case at 5pm tonight, so we will see how things go.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More Computer Trouble

I just got this computer back and now its been nailed with some combination of maleware and a virus. The symptoms are interesting. Initially, I thought my machine was having heating troubles. What I eventually discovered was the spontaneous restarts occurred while the machine was on line and doing some kind of virus scan. I am still working on a solution, hopefully it will be resolved soon. Any suggestions my readers have would be great.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Techincal Difficulties, Please Stand By...

Apparently Blogger and Blogspot are having random and roving outages. I have noticed that this is preventing the Grey Area from displaying. Fortunately this hasn't disabled the dashboard, so I can still post. The remedy for the moment is to refresh until you get the page. I will continue to post like normal in hopes that the page will return to its normal state. Otherwise, we will deal with the problems as they roll.

Updating on pay to play internet

The title link goes to an interesting New York Times article about what may be the first step in the Pay to Play internet.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I Have to Pay for What???

An anonymous comment on my last post forced me to do some research. What I found was more than disturbing. The title link goes to a website detailing information about a move by the big telecoms to make most facets of our internet use a pay service. This means everything from the number of websites you visit and the number of emails you send, to the number of media downloads will be subject to a pay by play service. I can understand how there may be beneficial uses for this kind of structure. For example, a very inexpensive form of DSL. However, the average user who already pays between $20 and $60 a month for DSL probably wants the ability to do what they want on the web for what they shell out each month. Simply put, this is a bad idea for the mass market. It will disrupt other parts of the economy. Could you imagine trying to search for Christmas gifts on Amazon, or searching google for just about anything. Your five minute endeavor would cost $10. Moreover, imagine what it will do to the business and legal communities that rely on email or research services like Westlaw. Not only do you pay for the West service, you have to pay per click to your ISP. How about iTunes? Now you pay $1 for your download, but $3 to download the file. What's next, a pay per boot version of Windows? Actually, I probably shouldn't give them that idea. Regardless, call your ISP, write your Congressman, keep this from happening.