:: LawGeek :: Thoughts on Things by Jason Schultz

Intellectual Property Rants, SUV Wrongs, and Random Movie/Media Reviews
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:: Friday, February 21, 2003 ::

Lack of Broadband Responsible for Music Swapping, not Greedy Consumers, Lessig says.

This Wired News Article summarizes Lessig's speech at the Digital Rights conference in DC where he talks about about why Internet users download music en mass.

The Answer? Bandwidth shortage. Once the bandwidth kinks are worked out, he argues, media companies will be able to seemlessly stream music directly into wireless play devices much like radios and Walkmans that can secure the content.

This makes sense, I think. Such devices today are so clumsy that's its much more convenient to just download the mp3 and burn a CD or dump into an iPod. Given time, this will change; hence no need to change current copyright law as a stop-gap short-sighted fix.
:: Jason 10:05:00 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, February 20, 2003 ::

Great Dept. of Homeland Security Parody

Kieran Healy does a great parody of the infographics on the Department of Homeland Security's new "duck-and-cover" site.

Cred: Cory

:: Jason 4:48:00 PM [+] ::

First Amendment OK Says Principal As Long As No Tension Created

A Dearborn, Michigan principal ordered a 16-year old student home for refusing to remove an anti-war tshirt.

As my good friend Andy (a pro-war advocate but very smart guy) says:

"I don't see the 'but' in this following paragraph, do you?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

:: Jason 1:35:00 PM [+] ::

The Dangers of Accidential Privacy Spills

LawMeme has a interesting essay on Accidential Privacy Spills about how one journalist's private email to friends at the World Economic Forum ended up circling the globe with an unintended public splash.

The essay is fairly well written and raises a number of important points regarding the persistent nature of digital media, expectations of email privacy, and obligation of attribution on the Internet.

I also like how the author refers to the "escape velocity" of an email, i.e. the point at which it has been forwarded and linked to enough times to enter the common consciousness. See, e.g. The Kurt Vonnegut commencement speech.
:: Jason 11:52:00 AM [+] ::

Are pre-movie ads defrauding American moviegoers?

An attorney is chicago has filed a class-action lawsuit against movie theater chains for showing pre-movie ads. The complaint says that it's fraud because time = money and moviegoers are paying money to watch a movie (and possibly trailers) and not advertising. He's asking for $75 per moviegoer.

I have to say, I hate pre-movie ads as much as the next person, but I'm not quite sure it's fraud. Maybe false advertising. It'd be nice if the movie theaters would tell you what actual time the movie started, but hey, what does start on time? The Superbowl? Not!

One thing I do wish movie theaters would do is tell you in the paper or on the website how many seats each theater holds. Often they'll take the most popular movie and after a few days, move it to a tiny theater with a tiny screen. I understand that this is so they sell out the theater and make room for new movies, but if they told me, then I'd have information to consider whether to go to another theater that was showing it on a bigger screen or watch it at home in a few weeks on DVD. Obviously not in their self-interest, but still. Maybe moviefone could do it or something.
:: Jason 9:11:00 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 ::
Turns out the question of How Many Continents is more murky that I thought. Oh well, I still like making fun of Jack when I can.

Cred: Tara
:: Jason 5:08:00 PM [+] ::

Hey FCC: MIT Media Lab Geek says E-mailing/File-Swapping/Web Hosting Digital Television isn't feasible

Raffi Krikorian, a leading computer scientist at the MIT media lab, has submitted a wonderful reply comment to the FCC re: the big-bad-broadcast flag that the MPAA wants to mandate for every digital television (DTV) made in America or imported.

As Valenti's comment below postulates, the MPAA has theorized that without this "protection", digital movies will be transmitted and traded among Internet users in much the same way that music files are today.

Not so, says Raffi. To maintain the high definition quality of HDTV and other DTV standards, you'd have to capture a file of incredible size that most current networks would never be able to handle.

Raffi tried to perform such a capture with the latest Superbowl. He captured the file (43 Gigabytes) and attempted to email it to a friend. Result: his computer completely stalled out due to the file size. Raffi estimated that in order to send such a file, it would take his computer (using a top of the line cable modem) between 5 and 6.5 days to transmit the one file. This is assuming that he was not using his computer for any other purpose during that time.

Raffi also documents how infeasible it would be to file swap such files or post them on the web, especially given the current cost and limits on websites that have high bandwidth downloads. E.G. At the low end, webhosting companies typically charge around $5.50/month and only allow you 10 GB of bandwidth for downloads the entire month, with a surcharge of $3/GB thereafter; first user downloading the Superbowl would cost you $104.50. Every additional user would cost you $129/download. (This also assumes that you can store 43 GB on your website server). Gee, that's something 12 year old kids can sure afford to do.

Bottom line: mass file swapping of DTV or high quality movies is extremely unlikely any time in the near future, with or without the MPAA handcuffing our TVs.
:: Jason 3:59:00 PM [+] ::

Valenti Loses Count of Continents In Fight Against Digital Piracy

Here's an interesting transcript of a panel on digital media which includes Jack Valenti of the MPAA.

Best Jack quote: "A 12-year-old, with a click of a mouse, can send a movie hurtling to all of the five continents."

Weren't there seven continents at last count? Is the MPAA endorsing file-sharing in Antarctica and Australia? Inquiring minds want to know...
:: Jason 3:37:00 PM [+] ::

An excellent speech by Sen. Robert Byrd on "Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences."

Cred: Tara, my sweetie.
:: Jason 2:30:00 PM [+] ::

WiFi Vehicles: Wave of the Future?

Via Technologies is sponsoring a WiFi Caravan from Portland, OR to the SF CodeCon. Essentially, a number of cars will caravan down I-5 using a full service wireless network between their vehicles, broadcasting music, playing games, chatting, downloading and uploading files, etc.

While this is mostly a gimick to promote VIA, it's also an interesting glimpse into our probable future where wireless network connections will come standard in automobiles. Maps, directions, and other information will be seemlessly transmitted. Opens up all kinds of possibilities for autoflirting and road raging/flaming too. :)
:: Jason 9:19:00 AM [+] ::

Tunisia arrests 20 high schoolers for viewing Islamic websites. Hello Big Brother.
:: Jason 9:03:00 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 ::
Wow.. Check out this Celebrity Gossip cheat sheet. Move over, Cliff Notes!
:: Jason 10:12:00 AM [+] ::

How do you like to be held?

Clive Thompson has an excellent bit about JetBlue's new "hold" message. Here's the text:

You know, everyone seems to think being on hold is a bad thing. Let's re-examine this, shall we? Don't look at it as being on hold. Look at it as being held! Because we all like to be held -- don't we?

For example, when you're sitting in front of a fire with someone special, being held is very comforting. Or when you're upset about something, being held can make you feel a whole lot better. Or when walking in the park with our significant other, we like our hands to be held. Or even coming home from school and having your books held.

You see? It's not all that bad. So remember. Don't look on it as being on hold. Look on it as being held!

:: Jason 10:06:00 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, February 17, 2003 ::
Some interesting photos from the Hollywood anti-war rally. I particularly like this one and this one.

Oh, and it's nice to see the thematic consistency in this one. (Gee, who's interests are we fighting for again?)

This one I can't explain, although you have to appreciate the effort.

This one strangely reminds me of Kuato, the mutant psychic from Total Recall.

This one is just excellent.

Can't argue with this lady's sign. This guy, on the other hand....
:: Jason 11:19:00 AM [+] ::

An old high school buddy of mine, Paul Davidson, is coming out with his first book: Consumer Joe: Harassing Corporate America, One Letter at a Time. Check it out.
:: Jason 11:12:00 AM [+] ::

Here's a nice article on Multi-regional DVD players.

Many people aren't aware that Hollywood encodes DVD's by region so they won't play anywhere else in the world. (Something to remember if you take long trips to other continents and want to bring the collection you thought you owned).

Anyway, the article talks about how, in response, Multi-regional DVD players are becoming more popular. The article also samples the reaction from Hollywood, which apparently is to impose yet another layer of cumbersome and interfering pseudo-technology onto DVDs called RCE (Regional Code Enhancing).

The introduction of RCE may, of course, necessitate buying and/or upgrading your existing DVD player. How nice of Hollywood to think of the consumer in this time of economic downturn.
:: Jason 10:37:00 AM [+] ::

"DVD Jon" Johansen (of DeCSS fame) has started a blog called So sue me. Talk about a good sense of humor!
:: Jason 10:29:00 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, February 16, 2003 ::
The Trademark Blog notes yet another Bush "Whoops!".

Apparently Bush's big hydrogen vehicle initiative was to be named "FREEDOMCars" and push research into "FREEDOMFuel." Unfortunately, the White House speech writers forgot to perform a trademark clearance on the name and subsequently found out that a company called Stuart Energy had trademarked the name for hydogen fuell cells and cars in August, six months before the President touted it in the State of the Union.
:: Jason 11:26:00 AM [+] ::

Instapundit has an interesting quote from Tony Blair in response to the anti-war protestors in the UK. While I don't agree with Blair's comments, I do admire his willingness to respond directly to the protestors. Something George W., our "President of the People", hasn't done to my knowledge.
:: Jason 11:21:00 AM [+] ::

Peter Bagge does a great comic for Reason Mag about some of the ugly undersides of anti-war protests.
:: Jason 11:15:00 AM [+] ::

BBC Pictures from anti-war protests around the world yesterday.
:: Jason 10:57:00 AM [+] ::

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