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February 2003: o-blog history

Most Recent News: Tape-beatles to d├ębut New Work on rAdioCUSTICA

o-blog  an i.p. blog o-blog: an i.p. blog

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©¦ Newsfeed. BBC News reports on the essential conflict at the heart of big companies offering broadband, knowing full well it will be used for p2p file sharing. talks about UWB, or “ultrawideband”, a high-speed wireless technology that broadcasters fear will interfere with their transmissions (and, incidentally, their bottom line). Increasingly, legislators are calling for less consolidation in the US radio industry, as this piece from shows. gives an overview of the broadcast flag, a bit of code that broadcasters want attached to each broadcast so that they can control how consumers use their broadcasts. Finally, the IEEE, normally a quiet technical standards body, is coming on board. They want a re-examination of the DMCA.

tech¦ Competition for CDDB. A new nonprofit technology called MusicBrainz seeks harness the power of the soundwaves themselves to pull titles, artists, and other metadata about digitized music tracks from a centralized database.


culture¦ reports that plan has been approved to rescue digital history from oblivion. Says Librarian of Congress James Billington, “The digital history of this nation is imperiled by the very technology that is used to create it”, because of rapid format obsolescence, as well as the fact that much web content is intended to be temporary, among other pressures.


©¦ A pair of professors, David K. Levine (UCLA) and Michele Boldrin (U Minn) run an Intellectual Property Page, where they have posted for download chapters 1 and 2 of their new book “The Case Against Intellectual Monopoly”. The page also has numerous other links related to IP. [pdf]

©¦ Still escalating the pressure, reports that the music industry is now targeting corporations, warning them that they may be held liable for their employees’ downloads, encouraging them to monitor the activity.


culture¦ While the music industry tries to put the genie back in the bottle, one content steward, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, is making good use of technology to see to it that the works they control never go out of print. [reg.req]


©¦ The Washington Monthly online asks the pointed question “Why are Democrats helping the entertainment industry stamp out new technologies that fuel economic growth?” You can probably guess why; it has to do with lucre.


www¦ Although I really like Google and rarely, if ever, use another search engine, this piece entitled “Google as Big Brother” made me, if not reconsider, then at least use more care in my browser configuration. As a precaution, I’ve set my Mozilla prefs to not accept Google cookies any more — and my searches aren’t affected one bit.
Another writer raises doubts about Google, and offers some suggestions.


music¦ Music without Sound. (Hard to resist that one.) A Liverpool UK-based web site is reporting on a concert of music composed of inaudible infrasound, and the very real effects it had on the audience.

war¦ The Guardian’s George Monbiot reports on a lecture by a distinguished professor and geographer that offers “what may be the first comprehensive explanation of the US government’s determination to go to war. His analysis suggests that it has little to do with Iraq, less to do with weapons of mass destruction and nothing to do with helping the oppressed.”

©¦ In an opinion piece at Reason Online, Douglas Clement asks the question, “Does innovation require intellectual property rights?” Analysis ensues.


©¦ Newsfeed. DRM in tech products must be labelled, says a new compromise IP bill that’s currently being worked on. Meanwhile, [reg.req] laments the lack of protest songs due to Clear Channel-type industry consolidation. And points out that the Clear Channel “stinking mess” is (thankfully!) making airwave deregulation look bad. Finally, Lawrence Lessig is arguing that the current state of the internet is a passing phase, and warns legislators that crafting laws to fit today’s conditions is a “fundamental mistake”.


©¦ Newsfeed. A new technology now being tested can identify files being shared on p2p networks in an effort to thwart piracy. At any customer’s request, a Vermont bookseller will purge their purchase records so that they will be unable to comply should the Patriot Act come asking for them. Cultural and economic conditions are different in China, as this article shows, possibly pointing the way to how file sharing and music sales can co-exist. At a recent conference on digital rights, technologists voiced their concerns that repressive use of copyrights might “break the internet”.

sound¦ There is now on the market a turntable for playing vinyl using lasers instead of a conventional stylus. The pros: no record wear, more accurate reproduction of wave forms, and even worn records can sound clean. The cons: it only works with black vinyl, and um, at its minimum configuration, it costs US$10,000.


©¦ Newsfeed. Napster is coming back later this year as a pay service; its inventor Shawn Fanning will be part of it. And, the EFF has released a list of consumer requests made to the Library of Congress for exemptions from the DMCA.


culture¦ Has the emergence of the internet, and more specifically, the World Wide Web, made a qualitative difference in the human condition; specifically in the distribution of power? The discussion Emergent Democracy by Joichi Ito looks into questions like this.


culture¦ Toward a more open world. Graham Caswell, writing at, argues that “The vast, coordinated protests that occurred worldwide last Saturday were just the latest manifestation of the power of the loose, non-hierarchial, evolutionary movements that have been enabled by the development of the Internet. And this fundamental social change is just beginning.”

©¦ Newsfeed. Holland is a country where (courts have found) ISPs cannot be held responsible for the activities of their customers. A Dutch company wants to capitalize on that fact. Good news: the Berman bill giving content owners the right to disrupt p2p networks will probably die [reg.req]. Bad news: more regulation on the tech industry is unlikely to be beneficial to consumers, says Declan McCullough.

war¦ John Perry Barlow writes that he “once knew [Dick] Cheney pretty well” and goes on to lay out what he thinks is going on in the Vice President’s head. Pretty interesting reading.


war¦ An article discusses the U.S. Bill of Rights and how it is being gutted, ostensibly to improve security. The terrorists have apparently already won.


©¦ The U.S. House of Reps has taken to scolding colleges and universities for not cracking down, and hard, on the file sharing activity that’s going on on the networks they administer.

culture¦ Can Open Source lead the way toward the collective creation of an equitable system of interaction, a constitution, if you will for post-national virtual states? Here’s a “mini-festo”.


©¦ Boycott indicated. Lexmark wields the hamfist of the DMCA to avoid having to compete by suing a chipmaker who manufactures a chip to allow cheaper, recycled toner cartridges to work in Lexmark printers. Let’s do the tally: it’s bad for customers; it’s bad for the free market value system; it’s bad for the environment — yet the judge granted their injunction.

©¦ Fred Rogers an IP hero. Personally, I always found Mr. Rogers’ screen persona to be infantile and distasteful. But recently I read the article How Mr. Rogers Saved the VCR, and I learned that Mr. Rogers said “I am opposed to people being programmed by others … I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important.” And with that, my opinion of him changed.

art¦ Art Directors Anonymous has posted a site of moving image work [flash.req] that is worth spending some time exploring, if only for the clever, if a bit overdone, interface for navigating the selections.

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