EFF just took its first act as a full member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): it filed an objection to the W3C’s plans to put Digital Rights Management (DRM) into HTML5, the next version of the HTML standard. In a statement EFF said,
DRM standards look like normal technical standards but turn out to have quite different qualities. They fail to implement their stated intention – protecting media – while dragging in legal mandates that chill the speech of technologists, lock down technology, and violate property rights by seizing control of personal computers from their owners.
You can learn more at EFF’s Why the HTML5 Standard Fight Matters.
I am particularly concerned about this issue because I see a link between DRM and the undermining of anonymity — the heart of most DRM is identifying who is accessing content, and that creates systems which either directly make anonymity more difficult, or map the way for others to implement those systems.
OBDisclosure: I’m a proud member of the EFF Advisory Board.
Judge Otis Wright issued a doozy of a sanctions order against Prenda Law, the notorious copyright trolls.
I could have done without the Star Trek references, but given the overall context of the case, footnote five did make me laugh long and loud.
Normally, I worry that when Judges try to write creative orders they are reversal bait. In this case, the conduct appears to be so bad, and the punitive sanctions mild in context, so I don’t think that’s a major risk.
Ars Technica has been all over this story if you need background. The transcripts of the hearings are amazing reading.
Update: JT points me to the font of all things Prenda, Popehat.
The first story, about proceedings in District Court in Tampa, FL was pretty weird and blackly funny, as lawyers scrambled to disassociate themselves with the proceedings in Porn trolling case thrown out for “attempted fraud on the court”.
Now Ars Technica ups the ante with the Minnesota sequel, Man charges porn trolling firm Prenda Law with identity theft: Says firm listed him as the CEO of a shell corporation without permission.
Hunter Thompson could really have done something with this material.
First we learn that 49% of the Republicans polled think ACORN stole the election for Obama and we also learn this great fact:
…most Americans don’t have an opinion about [Bowles/Simpson]. 23% support it, 16% oppose it, and 60% say they don’t have a take one way or the other.
The 39% of Americans with an opinion about Bowles/Simpson is only slightly higher than the 25% with one about Panetta/Burns, a mythical Clinton Chief of Staff/former western Republican Senator combo…
So both the long-defunct ACORN and the (as yet)non-existent Panetta/Burns plan weigh heavily on the low-information-voter mind.
Meanwhile, in the department of good cheer, BoingBoing points me to a band called Do Not Foresake Me Oh My Darling that has made a shot-for-shot remake of the classic intro to the The Prisoner.
I’m not in love with the music (the Leonard Cohen cover on their page is not a crime, but I never want to hear it again), but I love the concept of “Episode 1 – Arrival”.
I’d also like to hear a copyright scholar tell me if this is a legitimate derivative work, or a potential copyright violation. It’s clearly too much a labor of love to be a parody.
Every now and then I start to think it could be fun and even useful to buy a Kindle. Then I read stuff like Amazon remotely wipes woman’s Kindle, and come to my senses.
Randy Picker has it exactly right in Politics, Copyright and the First-Amendment Commons.
When I saw NBC’s mendacious moaning about the Romney campaign’s use of archival NBC footage from 1997 of Tom Brokaw reporting on Newt Gingrich’s ethics problems, I immediately thought it to be about as fair use as fair use can be. But Picker also sees a bigger picture:
[T]he trump card that NBC and Brokaw sought to play would seem to mean that professional video representations of historical facts would simply be taken off of the table for political campaigns. It is hard to see how NBC and similar organizations could ever consent to use, given that consent itself would seem to be inconsistent with the neutral role of news organizations. Far better to have the fair use regime, where there is no consent and no sense of endorsement by a news organiation of one campaign over another.
Then we get to the bigger picture on this. I have this sense, with more frequency than I would like, that major media organizations think of the First Amendment as something that runs in their favor but never against them. A First Amendment for me but not for thee. It would have been nice if NBC and Mr. Brokaw had seen this as an opportunity to invest in the First Amendment ecosystem. That would have meant acknowledging the legitimacy of the use of the video clip by the Romney campaign and the need for such use in a vibrant democracy. Instead, NBC saw its interest in the narrowest terms possible and threw away a great opportunity to demonstrate how the First Amendment should work in a robust democracy.
(PS. For those with a poor memory of ancient history as regarding second-rate political figures, Newt Gingrich was briefly considered a serious challenger to Rick Santorum in the 2012 GOP Presidential contest.)