Why offer technology that empowers people to do cool things when you can hobble it to force them to buy cool things?
So asks a report by Mako Analysis on SymbianOS phones, which are evidently too smart for their own good:
New mobile devices based on a version of the Symbian OS are a serious threat to mobile operator revenue streams, according to consultancy Mako Analysis. Savvy users can use devices running on Symbian's Series 60 operating system (OS) to completely bypass a range of services that are normally charged for by their mobile operator, the UK-based consultancy warned on Monday. While the threat is currently minimal, the loophole has the potential to cause major headaches for operators.
Michael Geist's latest column on copyright law in Canada contains yet another argument for the necessity of Creative Commons licenses: Toronto-area MP Sarmite Bulte is pushing for an interpretation of the law that embraces and codifies permission culture:
Although [Bulte's committee] acknowledges that some work on the Internet is intended to be freely available, the committee recommends the adoption of the narrowest possible definition of publicly available. Its vision of publicly-available includes only those works that are not technologically or password protected and contain an explicit notice that the material can be used without prior payment or permission.
Via Jim Tyre, Brenda Sandburg @ The Recorder, on what may be the stupidest copyright lawsuit ever (subs. req.):
How do you stop a charging porn thief? Take away his credit card. That's what a Beverly Hills pornographer is aiming to do in filing a copyright and trademark suit against Visa International Service Association and MasterCard International Inc.
Perfect 10 Inc., which publishes an adult magazine and operates an adult Web site, says hundreds of Web site operators around the world are selling its trademarked images. While Perfect 10 has sued many of these outfits, its biggest beef is with the credit card companies that process the infringers' transactions. The porn company says that without the support of these financial institutions, infringers wouldn't be able to steal their stuff.
I'm a big Tori Amos fan. This week she released a new live concert DVD, entitled Welcome to Sunny Florida. It's fantastic. Tori has always been one of those "you really don't know till you've heard her live" artists.
So, naturally, I want to get the audio onto my iPod. No copyright problem there. After all, the existence of the iPod presupposes that it's fair use to rip music you own to fill it with.
Eric Grimm has a grim tale indeed over @ Dave Farber's IP list, describing in frightening, first-hand detail the over-reach that the USA PATRIOT Act currently enables. As Grimm points out, the law can serve as the ultimate blank check for the government -- due to "don't ask, don't tell"-style provisions, federal officials are able to use unprecedented powers with near-impunity.
The Union for the Public Domain has notes from the first day of the 11th meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, taken by Cory Doctorow, Wendy Seltzer, and UPD's David Tannenbaum.
The upshot so far: many representatives appear to be skeptical about extending copyright-like protection to databases (PDF). It's not yet clear what the thinking is on the proposed new rights in the broadcasting treaty, but there may be support for removing webcasting from the menu.
Notes from the World Intellectual Property Organization's
Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights meeting, day
2, 8 June 2004.
Impressionistic transcript by Cory Doctorow (firstname.lastname@example.org), Wendy
Seltzer (email@example.com) and David Tannenbaum
Notes from the World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing Committee
on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR 11) meeting, Geneva, June 7-9, 2004
Over the past three days, the Standing Committee has been meeting to consider a treaty to protect broadcasters' rights. Thanks to Jamie Love, of the Consumer Project on Technology, an unprecedented number of public-interest oriented non-governmental organizations -- including CPTech, EFF, UPD, IP Justice, Public Knowledge, and EDRi -- attended and intervened at the meeting to raise concerns about preserving the public's rights in the face of expanded "broadcast protection."
In a victory for the First Amendment rights of Internet users, jurors returned a verdict today acquitting University of Idaho graduate student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen of terrorism charges. Hussayen had been charged in federal court with providing "material support" to terrorists in the form of "expert advice and assistance," based on his activities as webmaster for a number of websites and message boards serving Muslims. This same law, which was expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, has already been found unconstitutional by one federal court.
Give us the goods and we may decide to add your patent to EFF's 10 Most Wanted list.
What do copyright reformers and independent auto mechanics have in common? They're both frustrated by mega-corporations that use digital locks to keep people from fully using the things that they buy. The potential solution, at least for mechanics, is the Motor Vehicle Owner's Right to Repair Act of 2003 (H.R. 2735 and S. 2138). According to a summary by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (which has a Right To Repair action center), the bill "prevents vehicle manufacturers and others from unfairly restricting access to the information, parts, and tools necessary to accurately diagnose, repair, re-program, or install automotive replacement parts."
This just in: satellite television giant DirecTV has decided at last to stop suing or threatening to sue people for merely possessing smart card devices. Instead, it will pursue lawsuits against only those people it suspects of actually using the devices to illegally intercept the company's satellite signal.
The decision comes after months of negotiations with folks at EFF and Stanford's CIS Cyberlaw Clinic, who have been working together to help people understand their rights and defend themselves in the face of settlement demands that made it easier to give up than to fight.
It's an extraordinary victory. Read all about it in the official press release, here.
On the heels of our announcement yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that DirecTV cannot sue individuals for "mere possession" of technology that is capable of intercepting DirecTV's satellite signal. This is a major victory, since this legal theory has been one of the fulcrums for DirecTV's massive lawsuit campaign (more than 24,000 federal suits filed against individuals so far). Said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz: "Merely possessing a device doesn't harm anyone and shouldn't give a company like DirecTV the right to drag you into court without proof that you're actually stealing something from them."
Rumor has it that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will be introducing a bill tomorrow that would add a new Section 501(g) to the Copyright Act granting copyright owners a cause of action against those who "induce" copyright infringement (cf. patent law). This bill, dubbed the INDUCE Act, would apparently also reach those who "counsel" infringers.
Even a moment's reflection should make the danger to innovators clear -- you now have to worry not just about contributory and vicarious liability, but an entirely new form of liability for building tools that might be misused. It will be interesting to see whether the bill expressly precludes any Betamax-type defense. This may also pose First Amendment problems, to the extent a journalist or website publisher might be liable for simply posting information about where infringement tools might be found or how to use them.
Our own Cory Doctorow counts the ways in a recent speech at Microsoft.
Here, a snippet; below, the whole shebang:
Here's what I'm here to convince you of:
1. That DRM systems don't work
2. That DRM systems are bad for society
3. That DRM systems are bad for business
4. That DRM systems are bad for artists
5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT
Anil Dash and Matt Haughey took advantage of the ability to add to/improve upon public domain materials by adding linky goodness and improved readability to Cory Doctorow's much-discussed and most excellent speech on DRM @ Microsoft. Then someone else took the next logical step and created a Wiki.
Very cool. Thanks, guys.
What would the world look like under Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) Inducing Infringements of Copyright Act (PDF)? To give you a glimpse, we drafted a mock legal complaint (PDF) against Apple for "inducing" copyright infringement by manufacturing the iPod, CNET for reviewing the iPod, and Toshiba for providing hard drives for the iPod.
While we at EFF have been critical of the overbreadth of the Induce Act, some have asked "what would you suggest that would target P2P while leaving things like the iPod intact?"
Answer: It's not a question of more laws, it's a question of new business models.
Don't Beat Them, Join Them
By WILLIAM FISHER
The record industry's response to file sharing -- trying to block the technology altogether -- will generate the worst of all possible results.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit delivered (PDF) some very bad news for online privacy today. Ruling in U.S. v. Councilman, the court held that it was not a violation of criminal wiretap laws for an email service provider to monitor the content of users' incoming messages without their knowledge or consent. The defendant, the seller of rare and used books who offered his customers email accounts, set up a system whereby he received a copy of any email messages they received from the competition -- Amazon.com. As the court itself admitted, "it may well be that the protections of the Wiretap Act have been eviscerated as technology advances."
Amid the uproar last week over the introduction of the Induce Act, the Senate quietly passed the PIRATE Act -- legislation that would force taxpayers to foot the bill for the recording industry's misguided war on peer-to-peer file sharing.
Essentially unchanged from the version released in March, the PIRATE Act would create a new civil penalty for criminal copyright infringement: criminal restitution. It lowers the burden of proof by empowering the Department of Justice to "convict" on a preponderance of evidence rather than beyond reasonable doubt. Copyright owners, meanwhile, would remain free to bring their own civil actions against people already prosecuted by the government.
Responding to a new FindLaw survey suggesting that most people think the recording industry has gone too far in its litigation campaign against music fans, RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy told the press that it will continue "as long as necessary." Meanwhile, attorney and law professor Sharon Sandeen, quoted in the same piece, observed that "People say, 'If I paid for it, I must own it,' but they don't."
The first quote sounds like the common humorous office memo found in Xerox rooms the planet over: "The beatings will continue until morale improves." The second expresses well what the recording industry evidently hopes to acheive with these beatings -- people so scared of lawsuits, they'll purchase music that they can't even own in the traditional sense.