Not quite sure how I missed this, but apparently U-M’s collaboration with Google to put its works in the public domain online hit a major milestone on Friday: one million books scanned and put online.


Constitution 2.0

April 2, 2007

Ed Foster should leave Info World and do political satire full time:


You, the people of the United States of America (herein referred to as “You”), in order to form a more perfect union with your Government (herein referred to as “Government” or “We”), do agree to be bound by the terms of this Constitution. If you do not agree to the terms of this Constitution, do not use any Government services, including but not limited to justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense, the general welfare, the blessings of liberty for you and your posterity, and/or residence in the United States of America.

Article I. You agree that all legislative, executive, judicial, and other powers shall be vested in the Government. The times, places, and manner of selecting Government officials will be determined by the Government. We may at any time make or alter such regulations, rules, or laws and shall have the power to appoint or remove officials as We deem appropriate.

Article II. You agree that your access to services We provide may be terminated immediately without notice on the sole and absolute discretion of the Government if you fail to comply with any term or provision of this Constitution. Upon termination, you must immediately cease to make use of all Government services including but not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You agree that treason, copyright infringement, and other high crimes and misdemeanors shall be punishable by death, bill of attainder for corruption of blood, and other penalties as the Government may direct. []

What’s great about Ed characterization, here, is that it points up exactly how it is that we let this happen. I know a lot of commentators drag out that tired old saw from Franklin about people who sacrifice liberty for temporary security deserving neither, and I don’t entirely disagree. But I think Foster’s closer to the truth, here. It’s not about being scared, or actually believing that the current government’s policies actually foster security. I think even the most vocal elements of the Right have finally admitted that this administration’s policies have systematically made Americans less secure, both at home and abroad. The real problem is that we’ve become so used to signing away our rights without even reading the fine print that it’s ceased to bother us.

Condemned to repeat

October 5, 2005

Americans are losing the vast majority of their aural history according to a new study commissioned by the library of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board. on a small scale, we’re all familiar with the problem: what to do with the cases of vinyl and 8-tracks in the garage now that turntables are hard to come by and expensive, and 8-track decks are entirely a thing of the past? For most of us, this situation is a nostalgia-inducing nuisance. When your reason for existing is to archive and make available centuries’ worth of information for the general public, things are a little more dire. You can archive old recording, alright, can you archive the machinery? And if you can’t, what good is archiving the media? Moreover, when it comes to audio and video recordings, what you really want is the sounds and images, not the media…although having the original media is fine, too. So what are you to do? The answer is apparently nothing. In 1972, Congress extended the copyright for 95 years for all recordings made prior to the effective date of the law. The hope was (ostensibly) that the extended copyright would encourage copyright holders to rerelease old recordings for profit and shift the burden of preservation to the private sector–think of it as welfare reform for wax cylinders. However, the 1972 copyright act has backfired, as everyone except the recording industry thought it would, and our aural history is getting harder and harder to find. THe recording industry hasn’t had the financial incentive to step up to the plate, long tail or no, and even libraries’ hands are tied when it come to making usable copies. It’s too bad this report wasn’t commissioned before the DMCA. Then again, I’m not sure the Distinguished Gentlemen from from Sony and Disney would have cared:

The copyright status of historical sound recordings is unique among the creative arts in the United States. Federal law did not protect recordings until February 15, 1972. In fact, federal copyright law states that pre-1972 recordings will be protected by state and common law copyright until the year 2067. Although other copyrighted works routinely enter the public domain, this is not the case for recorded sound. With the exception of recordings of a few companies whose assets have been abandoned or donated to the public, there are virtually no public domain U.S. sound recordings. This includes many of the very first recordings, which were published as early as the 1890s. The usual allowances for copying or distributing given to older works by federal law under the orphan works clause do not and will not apply to pre-1972 recordings, further impeding public access. Because only the copyright owner can legally make old recordings available, historical recordings are at risk of physical loss as well as of passing, unnoticed, from the nation’s aural memory.

One consideration by Congress in extending copyright protection to owners for such a long period was to give those owners an incentive to reissue, and thereby preserve, older recordings. How successful has this incentive been over time? This report answers that question by quantifying the commercial accessibility of recordings published before 1965. Recordings, like other publications, do not usually remain in print in perpetuity. On the basis of statistical analysis, this report shows that most pre-1965 recordings have not been reissued for public sale and are accessible only to those who visit the institutions that archive historical recordings or to individuals with access to private collections. Today, pre-1965 recordings usually can be found only in large research libraries. Smaller institutions that still hold pre-1965 recordings rarely have the playback equipment needed to provide access to the recordings, and patrons of most public libraries do not have the equipment needed to listen to long-playing (LP) discs or 78­‑rpm recordings.

Because state and federal laws that give copyright protection for recorded sound are complex and can vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another, there is widespread uncertainty about what the law allows libraries and archives to do to preserve their collections. There is even greater uncertainty about how libraries can legally and cost-effectively provide offsite access to the recordings that they have preserved. Particularly for those media for which preservation can be costly and many original sources are rare, such as analog audiotape and disc, it is difficult to justify the expense of preservation without a view to near-term access. [link]

Kudos to the guys at []( not .org?) for a great idea. There don’t seem to be any plans yet, but make your own plans to raise awareness. At least call, fax, or write the appropriate federal, state, and local officials.

> Fair use rights have been under siege for a long time and from every direction. Some times it seems that almost anyone who makes or sells anything wants to eliminate another piece of fair use rights for their own gain. Manufacturers of cars and printers, media corporations, even garage door opener company’s have tried to undermine fair use, often by hiding behind the DMCA.
> We think fair use should have it’s own “Day”, a day to celebrate Fair Use in any lawful way you wish. Exercise your fair use rights or contact a corporation or government of your choosing and let them know you want fair use rights and you want them protected – demand your fair use rights! Use what ever means you have available: phone, email, smoke signals, snail-mail, etc.
> Be creative, join the forums and tell us how you plan to celebrate Fair Use Day! Trees have their own day, as do ground hogs and even income tax. Surely fair use rights are at least as important.
> Fair use isn’t just about what you can play on your ipod. Fair use promotes interoperability and the advancement of learning and expansion of knowledge. It impacts every thing from the computer in your car to accessing material at your public library, to playing a DVD you purchased or rented on your Linux computer. [[link](

Update: []( works, too.

(via [cory](

This [little piece of news]( from p2pnet caught me completely off guard. It seems on Friday [Wired Kids](, an advocacy group supposedly dedicated to protecting kids on line–presumably from things like predatory pedophiles–awarded the MPAA with it’s first ever “Doing It Right” award. No one seems to be exactly sure what they’re doing right, but it seems to be in response to their 2-year long attempt to [buy public education]( (which Junior Achievement seems to have been willing to sell, no strings attached, for $200,000). apparently, the fewer freedoms our children have, the safer they are. And the more propaganda they’re exposed to, the safer they are. Kathleen Sharp, a Boston Globe reporter who sat in on a trial run in California reported:

> The volunteer and the teacher worked from a 25-page classroom guide to explain the concept of using a computer to download files, which they called ”morally and ethically wrong.” The students played roles such as ”The Film Producer,” ”The Starving Artist,” and were asked questions such as ”Has anyone ever copied your homework? How did this make you feel?”
> By the end of one session, the teacher asked one boy: ”Will you stop copying music online and download the right way?”
> ”Yes,” he answered. ”I’ll go to the music store and buy more CDs.”
> Students learn to repeat the program’s motto: ”If you don’t pay for it, you’ve stolen it.” [link]( (via [commons music](

Of course, there’s incentive as well:

> At the end of the school year, students are asked to write an essay ”to get the word out that downloading copyrighted entertainment is illegal and unethical,” according to the teachers’ guide. Prizes include an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood, worth about $1,000; a Sony DVD player and library of 14 hit movies on DVDs, worth about $350 total; and a selection of 21 Hollywood classic DVDs, valued at $250. Teachers whose students win the contest will also be rewarded with prizes, such as a year’s worth of free movie theater tickets for the teacher and a guest.

It’s difficult to see what effect this has on childrens’ safety, or why Wired Kids was interested, but considering that the driving force behind Wired Kids is [Parry Aftab]( the woman who has decptively dubbed herself “The Privacy Lawyer”(tm) while dedicating her life to attacking privacy laws on behalf of big business, it’s not too hard to guess why she has a soft spot for the MPAA.

The real problem here is that it’s difficult to see where Junior Achievement went wrong. There’s nothing prima facie amiss about corporate funding of educational programs. Corporations of one sort or another have long sponsored enrichment activities and most of them do a lot of good. The Westinghouse Prizes, for example have served to advance science learning in high schools in concrete ways. And the entire Junior Achievement program is funded through sponsorship. Nor is it uncommon for school programs to encourage kids not to engage in illegal activities; “D.A.R.E.” and “Just Say No” programs are all over, some of them federally mandated.

So what are the objective criteria, here, that can be used to identify brainwashing before it gets into the classroom? Is a one-sided intelletual propery awareness course really so diferent than a one-sided drug awareness course, or a one-sided sex-ed course?

Of course, it is, but I’m having trouble putting my finger on where, at least in a way that’s useful. And that’s scary.

Pete and Repeat went into a bar…

Apparently the MPAA, no longer content with getting Spanish academics fired, has decided to up the ante. They’ve convinced the Justice Department to start filing criminal charges against organizers of BitTorrent networks. In a press relase pulished to the interestingly named file [starwars52505.htm](, (at least they’re honest about what’s really going on) the Department of Homeland Security–who knew ?–announced the “First Criminal Enforcement Against BitTorrent Network Users” yesterday. The sad thing is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to defend people who put up torrents of “Revenge of the Sith” six hours before it was released so the important points will, as usual, be overlooked, such as the outright silliness of shutting down networks because to get at criminals use them as means of transport.

On second thought, I like it. In fact, I think we should expand the principle. Let’s shut down Intel, IMB, Apple, Sun, and Microsoft because people use computers to download files. Then lets go after Cisco, because the supply the hardware to route the contraband. While we’re doing that, let’s shut down all the airlines because people smuggle drugs on planes, U-Haul, Budget, etc. beacause people smuggle drugs and Aliens in rented trucks, and all the car makers because they facilitate drunk driving and prom night deaths.

Maybe that would force a sane debate on the subject.

Then again, maybe not. (via [BoingBoing](

And in our continuing coverage international copywrongs:

Canadian copyfighter [Michael Geist]( has posted an interesting recap of yesterday’s Federal Court of Appeal decision in Canada, preventing CIRA (Canadian recording industry group) from forcing ISPs to turn over the names of suspected file swappers. While initially haild as a victory for privacy advocates and copyfighters (and yet one more reason to apck up and move north), the decision, it seems, leaves the door wide open for furter suits. The court dismissed the case on the grounds that CIRA’s evidence was faulty and and did not meet evidenciary standards. The court also cited privacy concerns over the way in which confidentail evidence would be used institutionally by the CIRA. This was a procedural ruling dealing with the manner in which the case was prosecuted; the justices did not rule on the “meat” of the case–the intellectual property questions, and whether CIRA had the right to bring suit at all–and seem to have suggested that if CIRA can meet the burden of evidence, they might be able to obtain the names they seek.

I think that brings the score for the week to 1-0-1 (we’ll call the CIRA decision a tie: potential victory for CIRA on intellectual property, at least interim victory for the public on privacy) in favor of the industry.