As reported in today's New York Times, ISP Verio is threatening to pull the plug on the Thing, a free-speech-friendly ISP. The Thing hosts numerous Internet artists, including Artforum magazine and the P. S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens. It also hosts Net artists and activists RTMark, whose critical parody of the Dow Chemical website apparently provoked Dow into contacting Verio with a demand that the site be shut down. For a time, Verio silenced not only RTMark, but the entire Thing network. Now it's threatening to terminate Thing.net's hosting and the Thing is appealing for donations to help its relocation.
In all this, no court has determined that there was a copyright or trademark infringement. It seems Verio doesn't require proof to make its judgment.
Offline architects seem to be rediscovering Lessig's axiom that code is law. (Lessig took examples from speedbumps and Robert Moses's bridge heights.) Oregon city planners are implementing "traffic calming" road designs to prevent cars from speeding through residential neighborhoods. My time in Cambridge left me no love for one of their choices, the roundabout.
The New York Times reports that the government plans to move beyond Carnivore in its Internet monitoring, and EFF posts background and action items on "TIA". Meanwhile, it looks as though the FBI is already watching your every click.
Alex Macgillivray, Larry Lessig and I helped with a 1201 rulemaking comment on behalf of the Internet Archive. Because much of the software donated to the Archive is stored on degrading media in obsolescent formats, the Archive needs to replicate the software onto new storage media and migrate it to new formats. Access controls that require the presence of an original prevent this archival storage -- imposing more restrictions than exist on analog donations to archives. We argued that the proposed exemption, permitting circumvention of such access controls, restores the proper balance by enabling lawful preservation of what an archive has lawfully obtained.
The Copyright Office is expected to post all "compliant" comments.
If this sounds like a narrow exception to a very broad law, that's because we were constrained by the Librarian's narrow interpretation of his power to issue exemptions, as stated in the Notice of Inquiry.
Back from San Francisco from the launch of Creative Commons. Through its licensing project, Creative Commons offers offer the public a range of open licenses to promote sharing of creative non-software works. CC also offers the Founders' Copyright, by which authors can commit to the terms of copyright available in 1790, fourteen years, renewable once, and publisher Tim O'Reilly has taken up the offer.
Patrick Ball sends a link to Human Rights Data Analysis Group, where he's doing exciting work with computer-analysis of data for human rights, such as Kosovo refugee patterns. The new site also discusses the Free Software the group is developing for the tasks.
Does this public performance of a variation on the Barney song mean that the (unnamed) airline will soon be receiving a cease-and-desist notice from the purple dinosaur's loving lawyers? Parody seems not to be in that law firm's legal dictionary.
Once my good friend and former Berkman Center colleague Alex Macgillivray started both a weblog (bricoleur) and an amazingly cool news aggregator (the opposite end of a syndication such as RSS), I figured it was time to get this thing going at last. I can't promise a steady stream of entries, but you'd get tired of reading those anyhow.
Most of the writing I'll be doing in the next few days should be comments on the papers from my recently-concluded Internet Law class.