News and Commentary about Law, Technology, and their Intersection.
* Internet History
On 11/22/04, Vic Sussman died. His speech at Internet World Fall 1995 was, for me, a defining event in 1995, the “year of the Internet.” His passing prompted me to prepare this list of sites that document Internet history.
Bill’s 200-Year Condensed History of Telecommunications
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Archives
A video describing the Internet in 1993.
Cyber History Collection And Timeline
Hobbes’ Internet Timeline
* The Law, Politics, And Business Of Music
I am a music lover, but I hate the state of music today. Vendors of proprietary music file formats (including Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft’s MSN Music, and Real’s RealRhapsody) continue to thrive while consumers lack good options for acquiring the preferred MP3 file format. I don’t want proprietary formats, so I’ll never buy music from iTunes (or the like). I would pay money — lots of money — to be able to purchase MP3s (including the metadata) for music that I like. Today, music lovers cannot do this; they have only bad choices.
Bad Choice #1 – Ripping. Music lovers can rip their existing music CDs into MP3 files, but this can be a time-consuming process. Also, since the metadata (album names, song names, etc.) does not reside on the CDs, third-party servers (cddb.com, freedb.org) are required to provide the metadata, and many obscure CDs are not in these databases, requiring even more data entry time to create rich MP3 files.
Bad Choice #2 – Recording. Music lovers can record broadcast radio stations and automatically convert song into MP3 files but without any of the metadata. Or they can record Internet or satellite radio stations and automatically save songs as MP3 files. In both cases, the resultant MP3s may have disk jockey talk, problems with fade-in and fade-out, and missing or incomplete metadata.
Bad Choice #3 – P2P. Music lovers can use P2P software to download MP3s from other people’s collections, but they risk having their ISP account terminated or, worse, getting sued by the RIAA.
In August, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that P2P software makers Morpheus and Grokster are not liable for copyright violations that may be occurring by users of their software, thereby making it harder for copyright owners to sue P2P software makers for copyright violations. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the case, making the matter far from settled.
MGM v. Grokster: P2P Software Makers Win In The 9th Circuit (2004-08-19)
Is Suing Your Customers A Good Idea? (2004-09-29)
Music Download Device Targets Linux Desktops, Eases DRM (2004-10-18)
MIT’s LAMP And Regulatory Arbitrage (2004-10-25)
MPAA: Studios to Begin Suing Illegal Film File Swappers (2004-11-04)
MGM v. Grokster: U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Appeal (2004-12-10)
Digital Recording Of Satellite Radio Not Challenged By RIAA (2005-01-04)
Sumitronics Grabs Music While You Sleep (2005-01-07)
* Proprietary Music Sells Like Hotcakes
Meanwhile, vendors of non-MP3 file formats continue to launch new services and (presumably) make lots of money.
The Irony of Digital Music DRM — More Choices, Fewer Options (2004-09-02)
Microsoft Launches MSN Music (2004-09-02)
Yahoo! To Acquire Musicmatch (2004-09-14)
Apple Reports First Quarter Results (2005-01-12)
Quarterly Revenue & Net Income Highest in Apple’s History.
* Open Source IP
I have noticed that the controversy surrounding a particular flavor of intellectual property protection is inversely proportional to the duration of the IP rights.
1) Patents generally last 17-20 years and are extremely controversial.
2) Copyrights generally last the lifetime of the author plus 70 years and are very controversial.
3) Trademarks last potentially forever and are not very controversial.
Many open source products are protected by trademarks, such as
GNU (http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=76357850), and
The most popular open source software license, the GPL, is based on copyright law (http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/publications/lu-12.html).
While copyright rights and patent rights arise from the same clause in the Constitution, patent rights continue to be the more controversial of the two. When IBM donated some speech recognition software to the open source community (i.e. a copyright grant), it was generally viewed as a good thing. But when IBM donated 500 patents to the open source community, it was generally viewed as a bad thing.
Speech Code From IBM To Become Open Source (2004-09-13)
IBM Offers 500 Patents For Open-Source Use (2005-01-10)
* Linux vs. Microsoft
Microsoft continues to maintains its position that while Linux is, in fact, a threat to Microsoft’s business, Linux is not, in fact, a threat to Microsoft’s business. Truthfully.
Microsoft Claims Linux Is Ten Times As Expensive As Windows (2004-08-14)
Microsoft Disputes Linux Threat (2004-08-27)
Novell Counters Microsoft’s Linux ‘Facts’ With ‘Truth’ (2004-11-04)
Novell Ships Desktop Linux for the Enterprise (2004-11-08)
* Domain Names
ICANN continues to water down the domain name space by approving more top-level domain names while preparing to increase fees. If you own trademarks, you should now consider whether to register corresponding domain names in the “.travel,” “.post,” “.mobi,” and “.jobs” TLDs. Also, due to another new ICANN policy, domain name registrants should consider locking their domain names to make fraudulent transfers more difficult. Meanwhile, the Philippines is now offering “anonymous” (cell phone and email address required) domain name registration.
ICANN To Make Domain Hijackings Much Simpler (2004-07-12)
DotPH Releases World’s First Anonymous Domain (2004-09-07)
ICANN Approves Dot-Travel And Dot-Post Domains (2004-10-28)
ICANN Approves Two Top-Level Domains (2004-12-14)
Fee Could Raise Net Domain Costs (2004-12-17)
* Internet Humor
On a lighter note, I find a lot of funny sites, many of them parodies, as I am writing and editing LawLawLaw. Here are some of my favorites.
All Your Base Are Belong To Us
A parody of the 80s video game.
Demotivational products. Their newsletter (The Wailing List) is particularly funny.
Heywood Banks’s ‘Toast’ Song
We do stuff ™.
StrongBad, the super villain from HomeStar Runner, responds to viewer mail.
‘We Like The Moon’ Song
* About LawLawLaw
LawLawLaw focuses on the patterns in stories about law, technology, and their intersection. Where have we been? How did we get here? Where are we now? Where are we going? How will we get there? LawLawLaw is distributed by email and published on my weblog (http://www.giantpeople.com/).