Copyright bites copyright supporter in the rear

(via boingboing)

Just like the former head of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) found out that DRM causes problems for perfectly legal uses of digital content, this copyright supporter found out that sometimes the content providers can take away your legally stored digital content if they decide they don’t want you to have it.

The problem is, we have been using the PVR to record 2 years worth of a Spanish language curriculum that is broadcast over an educational channel, and we’ve been using this content to teach our son Spanish. Now the curriculum is gone. It’s not like I’m just inconvenienced in not being able to watch my “24” episodes. An educational curriculum is lost.

For those who aren’t familiar with Mr. Giovanetti’s work, he’s a frequent and pugnacious commentator on intellectual property issues, and an avowed supporter of the DMCA and digital rights management technologies. He’s a frequent critic of “IP skeptics” and “commonists” who argue that copyright law–and the technological measures designed to protect copyright–have gone overboard.

Today he discovered that sometimes, technological measures designed to deter piracy are a pain in the ass for ordinary consumers–like him.

And because of the way the DMCA and other laws which favor businesses over consumers are written, his legal recourse is nil. Oops. That’s where you realize the dog you’re feeding just bit your hand.

[tags]Copyright, copyfight[/tags]

Undead Pirate MMORPG?

(via boingboing)

How can you go wrong with an undead pirate MMORPG?  Hopefully, this will be as awesome as one could imagine.  Disney is working on a Pirates of the Caribbean MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, for those that don’t know the term).  The web site says it will be out in 2007.

The game is being designed by the Walt Disney Internet Group’s acclaimed VR Studio as a world of high seas action and adventure where players will personalize their own pirate character and organize with other players to form a pirate crew. Players will then embark on swashbuckling missions to battle both each other and the evil, undead pirates of the high seas in an effort to become the Caribbean’s most legendary pirate.

[tags]MMORPG, Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney[tags]

Does AT&T hate consumers?

(via boingboing)

I just can’t get away from that style of headline. Sensationalism makes for catchier headlines, I guess.

This article at Wired talks about a secret data collection/siphon room AT&T uses in San Francisco (and purportedly other sites) to get traffic so the NSA can eavesdrop on America citizens.

AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit that allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a massive internet wiretap operation in its San Francisco facilities.

In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn’t be used as evidence in the case and should be returned.

The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers.

I keep ranting about this horrible violation of our civil rights, because I still believe that a President violating a law established in 1978 specifically to limit the government’s spying on Americans matters. I have nothing to hide. I lose nothing tangible if I am spied on without a warrant. But losing freedom matters to me. I don’t do a good job working to protect my freedom, but when I can say something against an illegal removal of my freedoms, I feel I have to tell others. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) starts with:

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and
if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

The really important part there is part (B) specifically limiting warrentless eavesdropping when it would intercept communications involving an American citizen. President Lyndon B Johnson and President Nixon got in trouble for eavesdropping on US citizens, and these violations of citizens’ rights were part of the motivators for FISA.

Why are so many people suddenly willing to let the government illegaly eavesdrop on us again? It wasn’t OK when President Clinton broke the law by lying under oath. It certainly shouldn’t be OK for President Bush to break the law by illegally eavesdropping on Americans, no matter how good *HE* thinks it is for the country and no matter who is on the other end. If he wants to do that, he needs to work on getting the law changed, not just ignoring it.

And companies need to quit helping our government break the law.  To bring this back to the original topic – shame on AT&T for feeding the NSA this traffic.

[tags]President above the law, Citizen’s Right violations[/tags]

RIAA says you can and can not rip your CDs

This is an old story in Internet time, but I marked it in my RSS reader (Bloglines) some time ago, intending to post it, and then never came back and put it on the site.  Tonight, I rectify that.  That said, here’s the story (brought over from an original post by the EFF).

Back during the MGM vs. Grokster case (where the music industry went after a popular peer to peer filesharing network), the recording industry’s lawyer said to the Supreme Court:

“The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it’s been on their website for some time now, that it’s perfectly lawful to take a CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.”

That seems fairly clear to me.  I read it as saying that the record companies believe we, as consumers, are legally allowed to rip CDs down to mp3/ogg/wma/whatever format to put on our portable music players for our own use.  Not to give to others.  Not to share with strangers.  But for personal use, it’s legal.  If I’m wrong, someone please let me know.

The reason for posting this story is the followup commentary from the music industry.  Recently, the following tidbit came from the recording industry  during the DMCA rule-making procedures:

“Nor does the fact that permission to make a copy in particular circumstances is often or even routinely granted, necessarily establish that the copying is a fair use when the copyright owner withholds that authorization. In this regard, the statement attributed to counsel for copyright owners in the MGM v. Grokster case is simply a statement about authorization, not about fair use.”

That says, basically, that sure the recording industry has said in the past that you as a consumer are allowed to rip to your preferred format for portable playback device use later, but now the recording industry no longer thinks that’s OK, so you are not allowed to do it any more.  Priceless, I say.  There’s a reason I don’t like to buy CDs any more, but I can’t quite express why.  Anyone have any guesses?

[tags]RIAA, Record companies hate consumers[/tags]