Tim O’Reily looks through the other side of the prism of connectivity and commoditization in The Open Source Paradigm Shift. I characterized it as a challenge to the end-user public, to roll our own commodity networks. Tim speaks to businesspeople, enouraging them to find markets at the edges while contributing to the “Internet operating system” in the middle.
The way to get there isn’t necessarily for all businesses to become commodity businesses, but for businesses to ensure that the commodities they need are produced in sufficient quantities for all. Even if the end-user benefits from this commoditization are “mere” externalities, they’re benefits all the same.
I have a simple test that I use in my talks to see if my audience of computer industry professionals is thinking with the old paradigm or the new. “How many of you use Linux?” I ask. Depending on the venue, 20-80% of the audience might raise its hands. “How many of you use Google?” Every hand in the room goes up. And the light begins to dawn. Every one of them uses Google’s massive complex of 100,000 Linux servers, but they were blinded to the answer by a mindset in which “the software you use” is defined as the software running on the computer in front of you. Most of the “killer apps” of the Internet, applications used by hundreds of millions of people, run on Linux or FreeBSD. But the operating system, as formerly defined, is to these applications only a component of a larger system. Their true platform is the Internet.
In December, I noted artist Tom Forsythe’s legal victory, when the 9th Circuit held that “Food Chain Barbie” was fair use. Now, the district court has fortified that ruling with a substantial award of attorneys’ fees, $1.8 million, Berkman colleague Jonathan Zittrain notes in the Times, this ruling helps avert the chilling effect of legal threats, if it causes executives and their counsel to think twice before sending groundless and unreasonable complaints.
Just have to make sure that’s clear, now that Orrin Hatch has introduced the threatened
INDUCE Act (PDF) (already renamed IICA). The bill would create a new class of indirect liability for anyone who “intentionally aids, abets, induces, or procures” copyright infringement. With that broad definition, no developer, vendor, or funder of emerging technologies is safe.
Save the iPod might sound extreme, but EFF was able to draft a colorable complaint against Apple — one that would cost a lot in legal fees to defeat even if Apple might win in the end. This isn’t about P2P, it’s about letting Hollywood drop a lead weight on the copyright balance between author and public. It’s saying no one may develop disruptive technologies without permission. It’s saying the public rights are frozen in 2004, because no one will risk developing the tools the public needs to keep pace with publishing technology.
Please help us stop INDUCE in its tracks.
Kevin has given Supernova attendees two keywords for the conference, “decentralization” and “commodification.” Decentralization empowers the users at the edges of networks, whether it’s physical networks or communications networks. These users (the public) need networks to connect them, but they’re best served by a commodity network (as James Seng noted, the best network is the one that does the least).
Some of the most fun discussions are those about user-driven innovation, the “misuse” of technology to do things its producer didn’t expect. Dodgeball takes cellphones and turns them into location-sensors that the user, not the phone company, controls. Imagine that application on fully programmable mobiles, rather than hacked from SMS. Likewise, voice-over-IP can be far more than a glorified cheaper telephone call, but only if the users are allowed to manipulate their own data (or purchase from a variety of providers offering to do it for them.
The problem is that no one wakes up and says “I want to be in a commodity business.” Commodity production doesn’t give monopoly margins. Most CEOs would rather risk everything shooting for a unique market. How do we convince them to provide the basic, dumb-network service, or how do we roll out the infrastructure for ourselves?
Sadly, piPod, a New York pizzeria guide for your iPod doesn’t reach San Francisco. Even sadder, neither does New York pizza. Via Gizmodo.
Good decision today in CoStar v. LoopNet. The 4th Circuit affirms that even in the age of DMCA, liability for direct copyright infringement requires “volitional conduct” and “meaningful causation” by the alleged infringer.
LoopNet allowed subscribers to post real estate photographs on its website. CoStar claimed that some of these photographs infringed its copyrights, and sued LoopNet as the direct infringer. The court held that even though LoopNet reviewed the images before posting them, the ISP was not the one actually engaged in the infringing reproduction.
The ISP in this
case is an analogue to the owner of a traditional copying machine
whose customers pay a fixed amount per copy and operate the
machine themselves to make copies. When a customer duplicates an
infringing work, the owner of the copy machine is not considered a
direct infringer. Similarly, an ISP who owns an electronic facility that
responds automatically to users input is not a direct infringer. If the
Copyright Act does not hold the owner of the copying machine liable
as a direct infringer when its customer copies infringing material
without knowledge of the owner, the ISP should not be found liable
as a direct infringer when its facility is used by a subscriber to violate
a copyright without intervening conduct of the ISP.
Direct copyright infringement is still a strict liability offense, but it’s good to be reminded that you have to do something to trigger that liability.
LawMeme points to another part of the lawmaking process changed by technology Computer-Generated Redistricting.
Basically, Maptitude takes the guesswork out of redistricting. A political party in charge of the state legislature can now, with a remarkable degree of precision (”within a single voter,” one panelist said), redraw voting districts so that the districts include any set of voters that the political party wants. This historically unprecedented power is only enhanced by the latitude that states have been given to draw district lines.
State legislatures have always been able to design districts with bizarre shapes to further particular results, technology just gives them greater precision.
My EFF colleague Cory warned Microsoft Research against DRM. True to his recommendations that access is better than lockdown, he’s put the entire text of his talk into the public domain.
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
Whether you like Microsoft or not, you’ve got to recognize that they haven’t gotten to be the richest company in the world through stupidity. DRM is long-term stupid. It’s technology designed to make technological products less useful (”Where do you want to frustrate your customers from doing today?”), and it doesn’t work as long as there’s one determined attacker in the audience.
The DRM moment has been left behind by science. Publishers were looking for pay-per-use and perfect price discrimination; DRM promised it to them. But DRM was backed by bad science. As long as we live in a world where we can still talk to our friends and still tinker with our tools, DRM is doomed to failure. And when it fails at its primary purpose, it succeeds only at driving potential customers to other sources.
In the short term, DRM may help facilitate lock-in to a particular manufacturer’s products. Once you buy a few Microsoft media player tracks, it’s easier to keep buying Microsoft. But as the format gets less useful, and the media player’s requirements become more restrictive, OGG looks more attractive. Sure, it’ll take some effort to get your existing tracks back (you might have to convert, re-purchase, or find clear versions on the Darket), but once you see the gains in flexibility, you’re unlikely to look back. Customers jump ship from DRM, with best customers first over the edge. If Microsoft as technology company doesn’t see that, it’s just ceding its leadership to someone who does.
“Dozomo is a quick way to reach every search engine in the world! ” It’s also an art project/hack at the Wizards of OS conference, doing a 24-hour DotCom. Watch for the eBay IPO. I think.
UPDATE: Thanks to tor, which installs and runs quickly even on the Mac, I now have a secure, anonymous Net connection and can get Google back again, even on the WOS net.
Creative Commons Germany launches with a bang, announcing not only German licenses, but lots of newly unrestricted material. Janko Roettgers announced the relicensing of his book, Mix, Burn & R.I.P. by a major German publisher; the team of CH7 showed their CC-licensed film, which has been downloaded more than 70,000 times already.
If copyright in the U.S. creates entangling defaults, international copyright adds even more layers of potential incompatibility. Continental European countries recognize moral rights (droit moral); each country specifies the author’s exclusive rights and options in its own terms. To be understood by lawyers, the licenses need to speak in these terms of art; to be understood by artists and facilitate international collaborations, the licenses must convey similar meaning in each national instance. The iCommons licenses translate the CC “some rights reserved” concept to help creators through the cross-border copyright muddle.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the cc-enabled translation of Janko’s book, since it’s beyond my rudimentary German!