4th > September > 2002 Archive

Judge takes Napster off life support

The proposed sale of Napster's remains to German media powerhouse Bertelsmann has been blocked by bankruptcy judge Peter Walsh in Wilmington, Delaware on concerns that the executive in charge of the batered file sharing outfit, Konrad Hilbers, was a bit too cozy with the German brass and his motives in repeatedly subsidizing the operation were therefore suspect. This was, of course, the recording industry's line in the matter, which the judge obediently reflected in his decision. "The $72.5 million in funding provided by Bertelsmann to Napster was advanced, in each case, in a lump sum and without any procedures put in place to ensure that it would not be used to run Napster's illegal copyright infringement business," the industry whinged in a recent court filing, as quoted by the Associated Press. Bertelsmann intended to buy the Napster carcass for an additional $8 million, after pouring $85 million into the doomed company in hopes of salvaging it after a withering legal assault from an outraged music cabal which spent uncounted millions destroying the first major challenger to its ironclad distribution monopoly. There hasn't been much left of Napster in the past year or so; and now the judge has pulled the plug on its life-support mechanism so it can die a natural death. No doubt Bertelsmann is relieved by the outcome, as it had already decided to abandon the novel venture. ®
Thomas C Greene, 04 Sep 2002

Greek govt bans all computer games

The government of Greece is making heroic efforts to humiliate the nation in front of the entire world, by banning all electronic games. That's right; something as innocent as playing computer chess on your laptop in a hotel lobby is now a crime with penalties of up to three months in stir and a fine of 10,000 euros. The purpose behind this charming legislation is to crack down on Internet gambling (which already was illegal) -- or, rather, to enable legislators to enact their little public dance of righteous aversion to Internet gambling. Improved enforcement of existing law is all that was needed, but there's a problem. Unfortunately, the Greek government is "incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines," according to an older article from the English-language Kathimerini newspaper, written while the bill was under consideration. Now it's official. The legislature has concluded that all electronic games have got to go because the bureaucrats they're maintaining on the public payroll aren't swift enough to figure out the difference between video poker and TuXkart. Perhaps enforcing literacy requirements and sobriety regulations for government workers would have been a more productive approach, but it's too late for that now. ® Related Story Greek ban on gaming threatens Internet cafes
Thomas C Greene, 04 Sep 2002

Inrange joins 2Gbps Fibre Channel club

Inrange Technologies Corp has at last caught up with the competition in the SAN switching market, and ready to ship SAN hardware supporting the current 2Gbit version of Fibre Channel. The company announced this week that IBM has qualified the 2Gbps I/O cards needed to make Inrange's FC/9000 directors support the standard, and will start shipping them next week. This will be the first time that this hardware has shipped in volume rather than just sampling quantities, the company said yesterday. IBM will at first ship only a 64-port version of the FC/9000 running at 2Gbps, and will not ship a 2Gbps version of giant 256-port variant of the FC/9000 until some time in the fourth quarter. Inrange's rivals such as McData Corp and Brocade Communications Systems Inc have been shipping 2Gbps hardware for some months now. Brocade shipped its first mid-range 2Gbps switch in October, and its first high-end 2Gbps switch in April. McData joined the 2Gbps club in June this year, when it shipped a director supporting the standard. Until now Inrange has been able to tell potential buyers of the FC/9000 only that the chassis is "2Gbit-ready." According to researcher IDC, the company's share of the of worldwide Fibre Channel director revenue ramped up quarter by quarter in 2001, and averaged 17.6% for the full year. According to Inrange's own calculations, this year it took a 22.4% share of the market in the first quarter, only to that share fall to 18% in the second quarter. The delay to the 2Gbps support followed Inrange's decision to abandon the use of technology formerly supplied by Qlogic Corp, and instead develop its own ASICs supporting the standard. Inrange said it expects other OEMs to complete qualification of its 2Gbps hardware either this month, or very early in the next quarter. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 04 Sep 2002

HP merger is ‘marriage made in hell’

The IT market will get worse before it gets better with little prospect of recovery in spending until 2004. That's one of the main predictions made by influential analyst Martin Butler during a session of crystal ball gazing with IT hacks in London this afternoon. Butler, president of founder of the Butler Group, was upbeat about the prospect of Web services transforming the IT industry and a return to spending in the medium term, adding that this will be accompanied by IT jobs moving from end-user organisations to grid services suppliers. In the long term (and Butler is talking ten years or more here) the greater economies of scale which Web services harness might result in 30 per cent of those working in IT having to look for work elsewhere, or becoming "dispossessed", as he put it. Chief Information Officers will increasingly find themselves managing external resources rather than internal staff, he predicts. According to Butler, Microsoft and IBM are the best-positioned IT giants to take advantage of the growth of the Web services market. IBM is successfully transforming itself from a technology to a services company. Meanwhile Butler reckons Microsoft .Net strategy will capture user imaginations and gain market share from J2EE, which will still remain important (particularly in application servers). Butler has much less kind things to say about other major vendors. Sun Microsystems strategy of becoming a 'pure technology play' company is unlikely to win allies among executives at the head of large corporates, he reckons. Meanwhile Oracle will have to modify its approach to end users of preaching the 'one true way' because of tough economic conditions. Butler, however, reserves his worse criticism for the new HP, describing the merger between HP and Compaq as a "marriage made in hell". HP has lost its focus and its strategy of making short-term improvements through cost cutting will fail in the longer term, he claims. Oher changes in the market predicted by Butler include the increased importance in the small business sector in IT spending and a shakeout in the Enterprise Application Integration and integration tools (portal and content management) segments of the market. Disappointingly he had little to say about changes in the hardware market, but then again this is not really Butler Group's focus. In their own way, companies like Intel and Cisco are every bit as influential in shaping the IT market as the Big Five of IBM, HP, Microsoft, Oracle and Sun - and even that's discounting the influence of telecoms companies or suppliers. Butler's vision of Web Services, backed by a sustained marketing push from Microsoft and IBM, dominating IT for the foreseeable future seems to discount the rapidly changing nature of the IT market. The possible effect of breakthrough changes in technology or the world economy were also largely downplayed, possibly wrongly we suspect. ®
John Leyden, 04 Sep 2002

Google, China work to unblock site

Google says it is trying to resolve a problem that left users in China unable to access it popular search engine. In a short statement the company said: "We are currently working with Chinese officials to get our full service restored to the millions of Chinese users who depend on Google every day." Over the weekend it emerged that Net users in China were having difficulties reaching the site. It appeared that Chinese authorities had blocked access in a bid to crackdown on access to subversive material such as porno and politics. However, a report from Ananova claims Chinese authorities have no knowledge of the blocking. It quotes an official from the Ministry of Information Industry as saying: "I have asked for information but we do not know anything about this." Ananova also reports that officials from the Public Security Ministry and the Foreign Ministry also have no knowledge of the site's apparent disappearance. No one from Google was available to shed any further light on the matter. ® Related Story China blocks Google. Allegedly
Tim Richardson, 04 Sep 2002

HP targets penny pinchers with Unix server refresh

HP today introduced a trio of entry-level Unix servers aimed at meeting the needs of its increasingly more budget conscious customers. All three models in HP's new 05 series line feature PA-8700 processors running HP-UX 11i. The 05 range comprises: the HP Server rp2405, with 1 and 2 processor configurations; the HP Server rp5405 with 2 and 4 processor configurations; and the HP Server rp7405 with 2, 4 and 8 processor configurations. The O5 servers are essentially economy class versions of HP's 2400, 5400 and 7400 servers, with fewer possible configurations, allowing HP to offer the servers at lower prices. Although cheaper, 05 series servers support high availability technologies, such as dynamic processor and memory resilience, fault detection, memory chip spare and partitioning, which allows the servers to support multiple applications with dynamic partitioning. All the servers are easily upgradeable to new PA-RISC processors, and the HP Servers rp7405 and rp5405 are designed to accommodate future Intel Itanium processors. HP says the servers offer lower total cost of ownership than competitive products and is targeting the small server market. According to analyst reports this is one of the few growth segments in the otherwise becalmed server market. List prices for the HP Server rp2405 start at $4,795 (£3,213), $29,026 (£19,448 ) for the HP Server rp5405 and $50,595 (£33,899) for the HP Server rp7405. These estimated prices include PA-8700 processors as well as memory, disks, I/O and pre-integrated HP-UX 11i operating environment. All 05 series servers are available immediately. ® Related Stories Small and rack servers shine through market gloom HP refreshes midrange PA, Alpha servers HP beats IBM on TPC-C (trails Fujitsu-Siemens)
John Leyden, 04 Sep 2002

Oracle preps UK job cuts

Oracle is wielding the job axe on its UK consulting organisation. In a statement, the database firm said that it had issued provisional redundancy to a number of staff". Word on the street is that the cuts are substantial, but Oracle is not talking numbers yet. Instead it says it is "where possible ... re-deploying employees within the company and our partners". Here's what the company also says: "No organisation is immune to the current economic crisis...That said, Oracle are constantly re-evaluating business critical staffing allocations as part of ongoing efforts to consolidate operations, retain staff and increase technological efficiencies." Which sounds like more job cuts to us. The database giant employs c.4000 people in the UK. ®
Drew Cullen, 04 Sep 2002

IBM acquires Access360 for identity management

IBM Corp has reached an agreement with Access360 Corp to acquire all assets of the privately held identity management and provisioning software vendor for an undisclosed amount. IBM plans to integrate Irvine, California-based Access360 into its Tivoli systems management portfolio. The company will integrate functionality from its own Tivoli Access Manager and Privacy Manager products to form a new identity management offering with Access360's enRole software at its core. "With the combined Tivoli capabilities and Acess260 capabilities, we really think we have a world class offering for end-to-end security identity management," said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of IBM Tivoli. IBM plans to sell the product through a combined sales force and maintain existing relationships with Access360 customers and business partners. Among those partners is IBM's database and application server rival Oracle Corp, which announced an alliance with Access360 in April 2002 to provide enRole on top of its Oracle9i Application Server product. Access360's CEO, Paul Gigg maintained that relationships with Oracle and other IBM rivals would be maintained. "Oracle is absolutely one of our partners," he said, "and we plan to continue that going forward." Oracle is also an investor in Access360, having joined in a $41.5m third round of financing for the company in December 2000 alongside VeriSign Inc, Amerindo Investment Advisors Inc, Pivotal Asset Management LLC and Crosspoint Venture Partners. Founded in November 1998 as Enable Solutions, Access360 also has partnerships with PeopleSoft, RSA Security, Entegrity, Sun Microsystems, BioNetrix Systems, BEA Systems, Netegrity, Entrust, Amdocs and Baltimore Technologies. The company has 128 employees, most of which are based in the Irvine, California facility that will now become a Tivoli office. High profile Access360 customers include Prudential Financial Inc, which has deployed enRole across 100 mainframe, Unix and Microsoft Corp Windows-based systems, supporting 55,000 users, and BP Plc, which uses enRole to provide identity management to over 150,000 users across 15 countries. Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed. The deal is subject to the usual regulatory approval and is not expected to close until the beginning of the fourth quarter. Access360 is the second acquisition IBM has made in a week to bolster its Tivoli management software business. On August 29 the company acquired web-based storage resource management software vendor Trellisoft Inc for an undisclosed amount. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 04 Sep 2002

EU seeks bidders for European domain

The European Commission is looking for an organization to run .eu, the top-level internet domain name the Commission hopes to create for companies and individuals in European Union member states. This week, the Commission issued a call for expressions of interest from organizations that want to run the domain, which has been inching closer to reality for about four years, traversing the political red tape of the EU and the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers. To qualify, the potential registry has to be a non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of one of the EU's member states. Applicants will have to charge fees based on costs, and will have to provide mechanisms for other companies to become .eu-accredited. Applicants will be evaluated and rated 1 to 5 on criteria including quality of service, human and technical resources, financial stability, and the increase of market competition. The deadline for applicants to express interest is October 25. After the EU has a plan in place for launching .eu, it will have to request approval from ICANN, which decides what goes into the domain name system root. ICANN has already put the groundwork policies in place such that any request from the EU would likely be rubberstamped very quickly. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 04 Sep 2002

DoCoMo erects i-mode anti-spam defences

Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc is the first operator in the world to launch anti-spam protection for its mobile users. The company has announced that it will automatically start blocking all spam (unsolicited email advertising) for the users of its i-mode email services from later this year. Under a new Japanese law, all spam email must contain the subject line mishodaku kokoku (which means unsolicited advertisement). DoCoMo will simply block i-mode email that contains this line. The company plans to start this on October 1, and customers can apply to opt back in by de-activating the service on the i-mode portal. However, it remains to be seen how successful this will be, as the measures to restrict spam globally are proving far from easy implement, and many spammers simply ignore them. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 04 Sep 2002

Microsoft shut e-commerce Wallet

Microsoft Corp is closing down its Passport Express Purchase service for MSN Wallet, following scrutiny of US trade officials. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft yesterday said Passport Express Purchase would be discontinued next year, enabling Passport to focus on its "core mission". That mission is "robust, online authentication," the company said in a statement. The closure comes after Microsoft reached a deal with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over Passport. The FTC conducted an investigation into security and privacy concerns, saying Microsoft had misrepresented how secure the service was. The FTC last month issued an order calling on Microsoft to implement a "comprehensive information security program". The program will be subject to compliance review every two years. Microsoft did not accept it had violated any laws under the settlement. However, the company said it regretted the fact it did not act sooner and more stringently to protect the privacy of Passport users. The FTC's order sets out a framework for ensuring Microsoft does not misrepresent Passport's safety and privacy. The decision to close Passport Express Purchase is seen as an attempt to distance Passport from further, unwanted regulatory concern. Passport is a cornerstone of the company's .NET strategy, positioned as a means for users to sign in to future online services. A Microsoft company spokesperson said yesterday the aggregation of Passport with online shopping systems was "not attractive" to customers or partners. As such, Microsoft also announced MSN Wallet. The company said customers currently signed-up to Passport Express Purchase who wish to transition to MSN Wallet must re-register, as data would not be carried over. Data held in Passport Express Purchase will also be destroyed after shutdown - the service will operate until March 2003. Microsoft said data in MSN Wallet is electronically encrypted and stored in a database on servers that are located in access-controlled facilities. Triple DES is used to prevent unauthorized access to information. Retailers signed up to MSN Wallet include Kmart, OfficeMax, Godiva Chocolatier and Nordstrom. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 04 Sep 2002

Sun may play greater Open Source role

Its new role as a Linux evangelist could see Sun Microsystems Inc release features found in enterprise-level operating system servers to the open source community. A senior executive at Palo Alto, California-based Sun last week didn't rule-out the company's possible donation of high-end technologies to the open source community. Technologies would be donated during development of Sun's own brand of Linux. The announcement marks Sun's increasing participation in Linux and open source. It follows nearly two years of machinations that saw Sun shift from criticism of Linux - calling the software a "bath-tub of code" - to outright support, with last month's launch of the LX50. LX50 is an x86 Linux server - the company's first full Linux-based offering. The product is based on Raleigh, North Carolina-based Red Hat Corp's own Linux. Sun appears to be backing LX50 with the rhetoric of a paid-up member of the Linux community. Sun has lately spoke out in support of Linux and open source software such as the Mozilla browser which it believes can form the basis of a desktop alternative to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp's Office. Sun has also said its Linux will adhere to the Free Standards Group's Linux Standards Base (LSB) for portability of ISVs applications between competing distributions. Sun's software group chief technology officer John Fowler said during a briefing last week Sun would "lean towards" 64-bit Linux. This would potentially increase the operating systems' suitability to increased deployment in mission-critical and workstation-style environments. Fowler did not elaborate on Sun's backing for 64-bit Linux. He conceded, though, Sun's processor strategy and messaging has confused the industry. In an attempt to clarify the position going forward, Fowler said Solaris would remain Sun's datacenter offering. Fowler said Sun would attempt to differentiate its Linux against rivals by building features on top of the core Red Hat kernel. Such features, he said, could include fault management currently used by Solaris but lacking in Linux. In doing so, Fowler did not rule out donation by Sun of valuable code to the open source community. Fowler said such a move would effectively mean Sun is repeating its earlier decision to release Network File System (NFS), now commonly adopted. "We might make [future technologies] available. It depends on how it's licensed," Fowler said. Most open source licensing requires vendors who profit from changes to Linux return changes to the community. These changes can then be picked-up by third parties. Away from operating systems, Sun has participated in open source communities such as NetBeans. Fowler said the donation of code would help ensure continued unity of the open source developer community, preventing fragmentation around particular vendors' Linux distributions. Despite Fowler's focus on software as Sun software's chief technology officer he maintained Sun is a 'systems company'. "[People think] we are either Dell or Microsoft. We are neither. We are neither fish nor fowl," he said. He conceded, though, a recent re-organization combining operating systems, tools, management software, application servers and tools under vice president Jonathan Schwartz would help product development and strategy. "Before we had a lot of software organizations and there were a lot of connections that weren't made. A lot of things I have to deal with internally are getting people on the same page," he said. Fowler added Sun is committed to the Sun ONE Application Server and Studio development tools. "Tools are not something we are going to give-up on. If you don't have tools you don't have developers, and if you can't attract developers you are just a run-time environment," Fowler said. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 04 Sep 2002

Napster sale blocked

A Delaware court has blocked the sale of Napster to its chief sponsor Bertelsmann. The German media giant says it will accept the decision, which means that Napster is now effectively dead. The once mighty P2P music-sharing service, already operating under Chapter 11, issued severance notices yesterdat to all 42 employees, including founder Shawn Fanning. The most likely prospect is now a liquidation under US Chapter 7 provision. Napster's death has looked increasingly inevitable - several newspapers and wires on Monday reported Bertelsmann's desire to extricate itself from an ambitious and expensive Internet strategy, formulated by ex-CEO Thomas Middelhoff. Yesterday the company confirmed that it had put BOL, its wholly-owned online books retailer, up for sale (but it says its keeping its stake in barnesandnoble.com) The Delaware Court's decision means that Bertelsmann saves itself $8m or so - its offer to take full ownership of Napster. Remember it has already supported the company to the tune of $85m. But it's the other record companies what killed Napster. Their anti-piracy litigation saw Napster's live service shut down in July last year. Continued litigation ensured that the service did not re-open. And now objections to the Delaware Court over Napster's sale, citing "citing a reticence on the German media giant's part to turn over documents related to the loans and relationships between Napster and Bertelsmann", according to this AP report. ®
Drew Cullen, 04 Sep 2002

Cheap thrills on the cyber-terror beat

Did you hear of the computer virus that could "attack the Pentagon's ability to mobilize or communicate with its forces" and cripple all government services in a city? I read about it in the Center for Defense Information's July Defense Monitor newsletter. It would be part of an "electronic Waterloo," readers were informed. These days "electronic Pearl Harbor" and "digital Armageddon" are fit only for the nitwit's book of cliches, but "e-Waterloo" is grossly underused. As such, I recommend gnomic cyber-security gurus massage it into worldwide circulation posthaste. While on the subject, I would also like to take a moment to field suggestions in the naming game -- terms somewhat less belligerently idiotic but still intriguing to suckers and cub reporters. I favor adoption of "Cyber-Remember the Maine" or "e-Gulf of Tonkin" -- two that can do double duty as rationalizations for attacking someone else. But feel free to coin your own. Also arriving via The Daily Electronic Crapper was news that organized crime was in the business of disseminating computer viruses. Why the underbosses might be involved in virus surplus was not explained by Reuters, but the news did mix nicely with word from a colleague a week earlier that an "expert" at a recent CERT-hosted conference was chattering excitedly about the Mafia carrying out hits over the Internet. It's probably this type of colorful apocrypha that moved Sophos' Graham Cluley to complain to The Register last week. Those who prattle on about such things, indicated the anti-virus technologist, were messing up the natural order, "doing a disservice to security by misstating [the] importance" of viruses. For every Graham Cluley, though, there is a brigade of journalists and pundits who deliver weekly about the coming or the lack of coming (Where is it? What's taking it so long? If not now, when?) of a computer virus or cyberterror end. Further, candor of this nature from inside the industry would not be tolerated long in the good ol' USA. For approaching the media with frankness and not getting with the terror program, Cluley might be quickly furloughed to Camp X-Ray, or at least expelled from the industry. 'Klez Bites Dog' However, that's only part of the operating dynamic which dictates whose reality is going to get the big push. No one wants to write a story about the fellow who e-mailed me recently to say: "I can get people to spill their drinks by telling them that... we have lost no data to viruses since 1991 ... The money we save on non-working, never-up-to-date copies of [software] goes to a couple of reasonable mail scanners, a firewall which we keep in good order, and a couple of people who know what the hell they're doing." "Big Gov Network Pretty OK! Modest admin shuns limelight" isn't a story an editor can dig. However, anyone even slightly capable of self-examination will admit to feeling a pleasant surge of anticipation at merely the possibility of: "Net Destroyed by UBL Worm! Nation paralyzed, communications down to runners." The galvanizing aspect of pleasure should not be minimized. It's fun to get caught up in the chase of disaster. Passing on official fictions seasoned with anecdotal accounts of pandemic human screw-up salted with the infrequent loquacious virus-writer or hacker eager to play the part of pitiful but sinister freak (the porn-obsessed virus-writer, hackers thought to have Asperger's Syndrome) always lands above the fold, is guaranteed high transfer in mailing lists, and spawns same-day copycat journalism. Tales which lack these ingredients don't. And nothing could have been more fun in this regard this summer -- if you need more proof -- than the work of the Washington Post. On the front page -- big, smokin' stories about al Qaeda drawing up plans for cyberterror and a computer security firm patriotically penetrating an Army network and squealing about it to the newspaper. The latter was especially delightful because the Post allowed the reporter to focus on the thrilling parts -- the exposing of the Army's underwear through uninvited penetration -- without discussing how it differed from, say, teenagers arrested for similar actions or, possibly, the Princeton administrators loudly denounced for getting into Yale's admissions accounts. When news trickled in that the source of the Post's expose was being investigated by the FBI and an Army criminal division, it lacked the same top A-section sass and was delivered buried inside. There it escaped boring discussions of what it might mean for a computer security firm's future if it had to regularly explain to clients why it was visited by the FBI. © 2002 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.
George Smith, 04 Sep 2002

Rebranding Fair Use – your answers

LettersLetters Re:Vote against a paid-for Pigopolist pol! We asked for more attractive terms for digital rights, as "digital rights" and "fair use" don't seem to be very effective. The word "GeekPAC" sucks too, so could you do better? (Some campaigns are designed to grab five minutes' attention, and although sincere, GeekPAC looks like it was created up over dinner one night and forgotten with the indigestion the next day). Bear in mind what happened to software libre after the movement was rebranded as "Open Source". You've come up with some good suggestions, lots of bad ones, and some thoughts about how this could try and energise middle America (or anywhere that this is needed): your friends who don't read The Register, or Slashdot, or tech blogs: and that's still most people. And despite the sunny optimism from California that insists things are always getting better, things are actually getting worse very rapidly. So will a name change even fix it? One correspondent writes that more than branding will be needed:- "If no person or small group is willing to come up with the necessary seed money to get the ball rolling, the US geek community doesn't deserve to survive," writes one correspondent. With that, on to your suggestions. Francois Villeneuve offers, in a parallel to the "Sunshine" legislation, "Harmony" legislation. Ty Dibble offers ClearNote, FairMeasure (again the musical version of measure with the legal concept), and FairPlay. On a similar theme Don Montgomery offers FairSharePac. PublicNote (Note as in musical note as well as notice). Bob Ramsey is one of several to offer "ComPac". Even more sarcastically, Phillip Cripps offers:- DOPES (Digital Online Pirates Equality Society) DUPES (Digital United Pirating Empowerment Service) HEARTS (Hackers Eagerly Assisting Recorded Tune Stealing) Some other suggestions deserve a longer context. This was my favorite:- Brian Hurt's comments were right on the mark. I suggest and whole heartedly suggest we call this "Good Neighbor Legislation", in reference to the fact that not only do "Good Neighbors" exist between houses, but borders as well. Instead of GeekPAC, why not the "Good Neighbor PAC". The obvious Christian reference that the name evokes should actually help among the Right-Wingers and God fearers (fear not God but his worshippers...). Plus, if you're against it, what does "Fritz Hollings is against Good Neighbors" play out like as a headline?? (Most people read the headline and first paragraph of a story only.) As good neighbors are we not supposed to share within our community?? Isn't the power of the internet and the coming of globalization increasing the range of our neighborhoods to encompass a lion's share of the Earth?? Speaking of which, Fair Use goes better as "Fair Play", and alludes to the "playing" of MP3's, so, any legislation proposed to protect Fair Use guarantees could be called the "Fair Play" bill. God I love the sound of that.... The real question is, when will the Democrats and Republicans merge into one party, presumably called "The Guilty Party". Jason Maggard And once we've got a nice name, the problems begin. Brian Hurt's comment about how to get a roomful of geeks, SF fans, or space proponents to look at their shoes is not limited to those groups. If I ask my co-workers, friends, even people I meet in a bar, that same question, almost all of them will be unwilling to vote against their chosen party. It's apathy. It's also a lack of desire to review the candidates stand on issues. Instead, the majority of voters seem to rely on authority figures telling them how they should vote. If there are no authority figures, they apparently vote for their chosen party. Arguing with them is no good, especially as that labels you as a member of the opposition party. Forming GeekPAC is a fine idea. I have no trouble with the name, while it may once have had the meaning of a carnival freak, I don't think it is commonly thought of in derogatory terms anymore. Instead the geeks are the people with the neat gadgets. However, after viewing the GeekPAC webpage, they really need an editor. They will be considered unlettered nuts if they don't fix the glaring spelling and grammatical errors on their opening page. Further, for all that the Internet is a great way to disseminate information, it is not yet pervasive enough to act alone. If GeekPAC really wants to make an impact, they will need flyers, magazine advertisements, television advertisements, etc. This costs money, but it's the only way to reach the majority of voters. As an aside, I am not completely unfamiliar with the American political game. My mother was an elected official for many years and I have seen many tactics which work, and many backfire. For an issue, one of the best ways of approach is through one-on-one meetings with community leaders. They are all approachable, their job requires it, and even unofficial support by the leaders of a community will go a long way toward getting the issue passed or defeated. Just remember not to lose control when speaking to a community leader, the point is not to convince them your arguments are sound, but to convince them that you are rational, trustworthy, and not a fanatic. If they won't agree, then agree to disagree. Politics is about respect. All politics are local. Finally, I don't believe that the movement should be portrayed as "anti-corporatist." There is a certain amount of disgust among Americans with the obscene compensation as well as accounting scandals among top management. However, from what I read, the political message of GeekPAC and the complaints of people who want P2P networking, etc., is not an anti-corporate stance. It is a more basic issue. The questions are all about ownership, not about corporations. When I pay for something, do I own it? When I buy an OS for my computer, or a music CD, or a DVD, do I own it completely, or do I only own it in a limited sense. This is the gray area which needs definition. Hollywood and RIAA want to define your ownership as very limited. If they had their way, you would pay every time you watched a DVD or listened to a song on an album. Microsoft wants you to lease, not buy, their software. This would ensure a continuous revenue stream for Microsoft, which isn't all bad. There would not be the pressure for Microsoft to upgrade the OS every couple years in order to generate sales. They might be able to concentrate on providing a quality product rather than marketing. The vast majority of corporations don't care. When Ford sells you a car, they would be more than happy to consider the transaction ended. If you want them to service it, you would have to pay for it. They offer warranty service because other companies do. In this case, you own the item in totality, you are responsible for it's use and abuse. Ford cannot stop you from modifying the engine control software, taking a reciprocating saw to the roof, or selling the vehicle. This isn't an anti-corporate stance. It is not a freedom of speech stance either. Nothing in what is being proposed limits the freedom of speech more than is already restricted. It is a possible limitation of the fair-use interpretation of use of copy written material. The problems are not constitutional in nature, but inherent in the definition of copywrite. Once again, the problems are all linked to defining ownership. With that in mind, don't call it GeekPAC, but Allodial PAC. (Allodial : \Al*lo"di*al\, a. [LL. allodialis, fr. allodium: cf. F. allodial. See Allodium.] (Law) Pertaining to allodium; freehold; free of rent or service; held independent of a lord paramount; -- opposed to feudal; as, allodial lands; allodial system. --Blackstone. ) I'll raise a pint in your honor tonight, -Flex (Alex Williams) But any social mobilization needs to recognize who holds the power. The NRA and AARP also have effective lobbying presences in Washingon. *Where's ours?* With respect to the pigopolists... remember that the size as determined by gross yearly income of the Hollywood entertainment industry is about $35,000,000,000 , the size of high-tech industry is about $500,000,000,000. Someone pointed out correctly what that the great majority of American wealth is held by the top 1% income households. A fair number of people who will lose big-time if Hollywood turns our computers into household appliances are in that 1%. Possibly *most*. A not insignificant number of them made their money in high-tech, and several hundred of them will probably wind up reading this if it gets put on this site. So the excuse that "America's big money people are against us, we can't fight" has been shown as just another excuse for inaction. Hollywood is the tail, WE are the dog, why are *they* wagging us? I'm willing to vote single issue... because if we lose, the other issues aren't going to matter in a national economy going into the toilet GeekPAC is NOT the organization we need. Face it people, an organization that can't put up a decent splash page on their own Website after several months is *NOT* going to organize a mass movement to take back Congress. The Hollywood future will only happen if we let it. 10 million people throwing in $10 each equals a $100,000,000 war chest. Let MPAA/RIAA try to fight 10,000,000 people in a single group with a war chest *that* size. If no person or small group is willing to come up with the necessary seed money to get the ball rolling, the US geek community doesn't deserve to survive. A Lizard [real name supplied] As we say in Yorkshire, where there's MUQ, there's brass. Where there's brass, there's muck:- This is how politics corrupts: If you want to win, you have to play by the system's rules, and in an ultimate sense you still lose. That aside, the winning technique is clearly to pick the most generic positive-connotation word you can find. There are no "anti-choice" nor "anti-life" movements, only "pro-life" and "pro-choice" ones. (With of course no nonviolent dialogue possible as long as completely disjoint vocabularies are used.) The most generic positive-load word in politics today is "Freedom" -- everyone from the old USSR to the US, and especially everyone across the hair-thin spectrum of approved US political opinion wholeheartedly supports "freedom". They differ only on the technical detail of promoting whose freedom to do what. So "FreedomPAC" has to be in the ring. Since the cause is individual rights vs corporate power grabs, "CitizensPAC" also makes sense. (Half a century of government propaganda has made "people" a negative-connotation word, so the alliterative PeoplesPAC is pretty much out.) For folks who like wordier, stuff like Citizens for Net Freedom Citizens for Corporate Responsibility Citizens for Free Computing Citizens for Computing Freedom come to mind. Or, given the success of the exclamation point in modern propaganda praxis, perhaps US Out Of My Computer! Hands Off My Computer! Don't Tread On Me! or such. The basic problem with all such populist efforts, given the current construction of the US Congress as a free marketplace in which legislative services are auctioned off to the highest bidder, is that you can only get tens of millions of people riled up about maybe half a dozen issues at any one time, while the corporate lobbyists can arrange midnight passage of dozens of bills and riders a month. Even when you win one battle, you've lost dozens of other ones through neglect in the same interval. And six months or a year later, the lobbyists will most likely come back and win the rematch on your "victory" too -- mass popular outrage cannot be long maintained. Soon ennui settles in and a sexier issue comes to the fore. Still, an occasional momentary stand against the relentless US march to the extreme right (remember when Nixon was considered rightwing? -- now he'd be considered a "commie", with such proposals as a negative income tax bracket and guaranteed minimum income) is arguably better than none at all. The only real solution to the problem would be some brake upon the relentless increase in concentration of wealth in the US. Just the -tax-breaks- the US ruling 1% of the population have given themselves in the last 20 years exceed the entire -income- of the poorest 1/8 of the population. (And this considers only the official US heartland, not the hundreds of millions to billions of people in US-controlled "countries" -- "provinces" would be a more honest and traditional term -- outside of North America.) Considerably less than 1% of the US population owns more than 70% of basically everything other than cars and private residences -- stocks, bonds, commercial buildings, land, you name it. Wealth and power being relatively easily interconvertable, this means that the ruling fraction-of-a-percent constitute a political majority. They control the government via their corporations and lobbyists, and the government consequently enacts policies to further favor the concentration of wealth in their hands. Capitalism and democracy are ultimately an either-or proposition on the continental scale: democracy is based on even distribution of power, while capitalism invariably involves 70% of everything being controlled by 1% or less of the population. (The 70% / 1% ratio isn't unique to the US, by any means. Look at any US-controlled "banana republic" and you'll see the same: circa 70% of the land being owned by circa 1% of the population: A small administrative elite is being bought off by relative wealth in return for giving US multinationals free reign to maximize profit to US stockholders. Numerical simulations suggest that this 70%/1% is a "natural" equilibrium point under very weak assumptions about economic interactions in a large population.) The classical "democracies" of Rome and Athens arose in societies which had less than a factor of ten spread in wealth between "rich" and "poor" voting citizens -- and collapsed as soon as income from empire created a class of citizens too wealthy and powerful to suffer democracy gladly. (The Roman Senate welcomed Augustus' assumption of imperial power in significant part because he could cover out-of-pocket public expenses which the state itself could no longer afford -- he owned personally among other things all of Egypt and a fair fraction of Italy. Imagine that Bill Gates was the only entity in the US with the funds to cover interest on the national debt and to keep the Pentagon payroll covered. That could -never- happen, of course. History ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, after all.) The US elite now administer the largest military machine and empire in human history, with money flowing into their coffers from every continent except Antarctica. (E.g., "debt service" payments from Africa vastly exceed "foreign aid" to Africa, and Western tables are loaded with food exported from starving nations.) They don't brook Latin American interference in their choice of colonial governments, and they certainly aren't about to brook serious "democratic tendencies" in the US. Institution of a seriously effective democracy in the US would spell instant civil war as the reigning minority took to the streets to defend by force the "rights" which the government would (almost certainly) no longer be enforcing on their behalf. The US Civil War established the US Army as the fundamental powerbase of the US Federal government, shattering forever any lingering pretense that it drew legitimacy "from the consent of the governed": Lack of consent from the 99% of the population in the political minority does not and would not inhibit the ruling percent in the slightest. So unless fundamental reform of US capitalism is in prospect (about as likely as the sun rising in the West...) the achievable goals of something like a FreedomPAC are limited to influencing legislation on peripheral issues with no significant impact upon corporate profits or power. Stopping DMCA or RIAA or such is politically possible in contemporary America only by demonstrating an alternative which is equally profitable and equally protective of corporate power and privilege. E.g., a DMCA loophole specifically for professional programmers is probably politically feasibility. The Fortune 500 care only about control and income from the sheep herd as a whole -- they'll willingly write off a tiny minority as a special case if it demonstrates the ability to cause enough pain. Corporate America is -all- about cutting special-case deals and instituting special subsidies and favoritism for small minorities with clout proportional to the demanded share of the tax take. What they absolutely won't tolerate is creeping democratic tendencies which threaten either their short-term quarterly profit increases (a fixed share of the GDP is Not Acceptable, the rich -must- grow richer -- check the '70s, when the rest of the US population paid for their ruler's policy mistakes with declining real wealth and income while that of the upper 1% continued its steady rise) or their long-term hold on power. The US is divided into a ruling minority which is very consciously, deliberately and seriously engaged in "class struggle", and the rest of the population, which the ruling percent treat and regard as sheep for the shearing -- property on which return on investment is to be methodically maximized -- and who are carefully indoctrinated to faithfully believe in a "classless society" despite abundant evidence to the contrary. (If the Church can convince its revenue stream that men can walk on water, the State can convince its "human resources" that Bill Gates has just the same political clout as the bum sleeping in the gutter. Just have figures in authority repeat the statement loudly enough and often enough. "The Big Lie" technique, to coin a phrase.) If a "GeekPAC" sets itself up as a threat to the ruling elite by attempting to promote democracy -- effectively, by threatening violent revolution, the only possible endpoint of creeping democracy within the US paradigm -- it will be crushed as thoroughly as every other popular revolt in US history, from the Whisky Rebellion to the Wobblies. If it sets itself up as yet another special interest trying to get its snout into the Federal feeding trough and buy itself special favors proportional to its proven political clout, it may well succeed. "Cynbe ru Taren" Also see more of your "Stuckist" Net letters published today [link to follow]® Related Stories Practical Stuckism Hollywood's private war for social control The MeatSpace Mailbag Practical Stuckism
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Sep 2002

Easynet ploughs on with LLU

Easynet is providing broadband services to more than 850 customers over unbundled lines, the company confirmed today. In August the pan-European broadband provider added a further 254 punters and now provides 'own loop' DSL services at 71 BT exchanges in Greater London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Brighton, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The company plans to invest still further and could increase the number of unbundled exchanges by as many as 100 over the next 18 months. News of Easynet's progress comes as the company reported increased revenue and widening losses for the six months to the end of June. Turnover was up from £28.5m in H1 2001 to £41.6m for the first six months of this year. Easynet also reported pre-tax losses of £53m, compared to £10.6m during the same period last year. In a statement Keith Todd, chairman of Easynet said: "...the roll-out of our 'own loop' DSL services is now generating real momentum, making us the only effective participant in the high profile area of Local Loop Unbundling." At the end of June Easynet had 14,583 business DSL customers, including its own unbundled customers. Shares in the company were up 10p (14.29 per cent) at 70p at lunch. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Sep 2002

Telewest denies plan to axe 1,000 jobs

Telewest has denied a newspaper report that it is to slash a further 1,000 jobs amid further restructuring at the hard-up cableco. The FT today said the cuts were part of a range of measures - including the rein back on capital spending by a third - designed to tackle its £3.5bn debt. Telewest will also reduce the number of call centres from eight to five, the newspaper said. However, a spokeswoman for Telewest said the figures quoted were "speculative" adding that the company had "no specific plan for job cuts". She conceded that it is Telewest's aim to become a "leaner" operation but this will come about from "natural attrition". When Adam Singer, Telewest's former CEO, was recently deposed in a boardroom coup his replacement, Charles Burdick, said his job was to concentrate on navigating the company through a 'close to inevitable' debt for equity swap in coming months. He said it was very important that the company focuses on maintaining its "leadership in broadband data" and a "ruthless focus on costs". In May Telewest confirmed its intention to axe 1,500 jobs as part of plans to save up to £50 million a year. ® Related Story Telewest CEO ousted in boardroom putsch Telewest axes 1,500 jobs
Tim Richardson, 04 Sep 2002

Police arrest five in Net credit card fraud probe

Sussex police have arrested five people suspected of involvement in a scam in which goods were bought online using information harvested from purloined credit card receipts. Detectives believe the gang obtained the victims' credit card information from till roll receipts dumped in a rubbish bin by a garage in Eastbourne, Sussex. Investigations led to a raid on a house in Eastbourne where property worth £8,500 (including TVs, stereo equipment and even a bed) was recovered. Detective Constable Bill Simons told us the gang could have netted as much as £40,000 through the scam. Police have released five people on bail after preliminary questioning about the offences, and a warrant has been issued for another person wanted in connection with the alleged crimes. Although the amount involved in the fraud and relatively modest, the case illustrate a wider problem of crooks obtaining credit card receipts via 'dumpster diving' which is probably a more serious problem than credit card details stolen from insecure sites, despite all the publicity accorded to the latter. The issue could be eased if retailers used systems which blocked out at least some numbers on credit card receipts, or systems to destroy spare counterfoils after use. Many of those defrauded in the Sussex scam had failed to notice any problem, so it is recommend that consumers keep regular tabs on transactions (and destroying receipts after they've been checked against bills). ®
John Leyden, 04 Sep 2002

Boycott Hollywood for Thanksgiving?

LettersLetters Re: The Stuckist Net - what is your post-Palladium future? A quick note before we start. There's a real Stuckist Art Movement, and it was the inspiration for us appropriating the term. Charles Thomson who coined the expression has written to us. They'd like to avoid confusion that it's a "Stuckist"-blessed project. Now the Stuckist Net is not project at all, but a dystopian future, but fair dues nevertheless. See the end of this story for Charles' request. See also your suggestions for Rebranding Fair Use. Unfortunately, some of your contributors to this debate remind me of the kind of gentlemen who live in Montana and bury food and ammo caches around their houses for when the UN troops come to round them up. It seems that the era of personal liberty we've enjoyed in the West for so long is finally going to be ended when Microsoft and the RIAA take over the internet and we all have Fritz chips installed up our arses. What is going to happen is the fragmentation of the IT market and the internet as there is a reaction worldwide against what the US entertainment/IT cabal is trying to achieve, with very unpredictable (and possibly fascinating) results. I agree with those who advocate activism. That's because free speech actually works in the West. How do you think environmentalism became a big issue? Or race? Or gay rights? Because people militantly organised themselves and began to exert pressure on those who make the decisions. Go and buy Sony shares and start to hassle them. If 1000 people do that it will make a difference. If it's 10,000 it'll make a big difference. Let these people know what you want, because at the end of the day, you're the customers, right?? As an employee of an oil company, let me assure you that nothing, and I mean NOTHING scares a big company more than a noisy, smelly, obnoxious, disaffected pressure group. Now go away and chain yourself to someone important's front door. [name supplied] Regarding the Stuckist Net: I think you are applying too radical a requirement on the effect Stuckism must have in order to defeat the 'establishment'. I think that hoarding laptop components is somewhat akin to survivalists building armed bunkers in the distant hell holes of Montana. The fundamental weakness of the TCPA/DMCA/RIAA composite strategies is that they may very well be unable to propagate the TCPA element of the strategy quickly enough to preserve the financial interests of the establishment that proposes them. Stuckism must surely embrace a very wide ranging number of composite strategies that undermines the commercial viability of the hostile corporations, including a media/music/content equivalent of the GPL – content that is intrinsically free and use of which renders any aggregating content intrinsically free. If culture that is free becomes culture that is cool amongst youth consumers of media, the content empires face a very difficult future regardless of the delivery technology. Further, the preservation of existing technologies, such as Windows 98SE, becomes axiomatic to furthering the overall aims of Stuckism. The essential paradigm of the Wintel industrial core is continual innovation – you must always be on a conveyor belt of incremental redundancy. It is, I would claim, a fundamental axiom of Stuckism to retain vibrant, living legacy wherever and whenever possible, and support and foster centers of Web excellence to that end. Finally, the threat of boycott must be made real by the unifying of the myriad voices in wilderness currently fragmented into anti-Microsoft web rings, anti-DRM movements, Open Systems and freedom oriented pressure groups into a cohesive whole. This will require a charter, again along the lines of the GPL, that by common consent binds the many different small elements opposing this 'establishment' with a kind of constitution, bill of rights, and declaration of independence. Many thanks to you and The Register for spearheading this discussion in the first place. S G H Houbart, I want in too! I must agree with much of the sentiment of the letters you published, however I agree most with Bill Softky. There are several inherent problems if TCPA/Palladium is to do what its promoters think it will: 1. Either software certification is easy/cheap or it isn't. If it's easy we can certify our own compiled linux kernel and there is no issue. If it is difficult/expensive then we break every Word and Excel macro and Access database application that has ever been written by an end user. Most of the web would just disappear since all those Perl modules are unlikely to be certified. Forget the little developer - how many large companies will have their websites broken by this? They would have to certify every thing they use. CGI.pm v1.0 on your London intranet server? Certify it. CGI.pm v0.45 on your US intranet? You could upgrade to your certified 1.0 and risk breaking things or certify 0.45 too. One of you inhouse developers fixed a security bug in v1.0 - you know what that means! I just can't see how this could possibly work. 2. Class breaks. What is the likelihood of the Fritz chip being bug free? Those "securing" a TCPA system have to cover all bases, an attacker only needs to find one weakness. Think DeCSS here. Burn the software into hardware and you have a large number of expensive and ineffective systems. 3. The will to be free - and the money to be had from this. If a Fritz/TCPA law came into being and Intel fritzed its CPUs, would AMD follow suit, or would they provide motherboard designs including a separate fritz chip on an EEPROM or with a convenient "undocumented" jumper setting? We've already seen Dell do something similar in response to MS's insistence that no PC shall be OS free - they throw in a copy of FreeDOS. There will be a chicken/egg situation. If the implementation takes place before the law is mandatory - it will show the folly of the law and be the most unpopular version of Windows yet. If the law becomes mandatory before it is implemented, people will get used to ignoring it, making future enforcement seem unreasonable to the populous - which makes it harder to enforce. Regards, Leigh Anthony I wish I was that optimistic. "If TCPA restricts copying MP3s or CDs, can't I just put the microphone of my home CD-burner in front of the loudspeaker? If TCPA restricts DVD playing, can't I just aim my home video camera at the monitor during playback?" Spoken like someone who almost certainly hasn't done either of these. Have you tried recording with an air-gap? That digital-analog-digital conversion is a killer, and who is going to bother? Unless you've got very good equipment, an extremely steady hand and a very quiet room, the degradation of signal is prohibitive. And if you make a copy of a copy of a copy, that only gets worse. I wonder whether some public-spirited Mafia Don or Al-Qaeda terrorist couldn't sue the FBI or CIA under the DMCA for breaking their encrypted digital data? How sweet that would be? Steven D'Aprano Here's Bill's follow-up:- I'm not so worried about how to build your own video cards, etc; I'm sure that stuff will get worked out. On the other hand, here is how I see the arms-race as a whole playing out... and think all the while about how it applies to stuff *almost everybody* wants to stop, like kiddie porn, and not just bootleg MP3's: Simple signatures (like checksums) won't work on almost any kind of media file, because someone who wants to copy it can always turn it into its perceptual form (plain text, audio, video), cut it it pieces, change the resolution, put little bits of extractable junk in it here and there, and make a new file which can be easily converted to a perceptual form, but which doesn't look much at all like the original. So basically all media can be scrambled by almost anyone, scrambled well enough that the only way to tell what's in the file is to have a human try to unscramble and look at it. So automatic content-measuring bots (like they used to fight Napster) can be easily defeated... but human bots cannot, since the whole point is to make something that a human CAN read/hear/see. So if you have enough RIAA shock troops trolling the download sites and looking for copied stuff, they'll find it, or at least find the most obvious sources of it. Just as you presently have lots of police etc trolling the kiddie-porn sites, pretending to be preteen girls. So broadly speaking, the Powers That Be will be able to catch and harrass/shut down any large-scale copying by having real live people looking for downloads and seeing what's in them. But they'll never be able to stop small-scale stuff, from emails to just-among-friends ftp dropoffs, because they can't automate the process. bill Re: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/35/26796.html The best set of opinions I've seen yet on the current attempts to pound the populace into digital serfdom. I don't expect to see better. Articulate, vastly different viewpoints. And it's starting to scare the hell out of me, because each one undermines the hope in the other. I'm stockpiling hardware and taking stock of my friends in Taiwan. JR All the mere technical workarounds for the Fritzed machines assumes that the CRM lobby doesn't buy legislation to make it illegal to have a Fritz-free machine. In theory, since the intent of the Fritzed machine is to enforce copy write laws, the only reason to have a Fritz-free machine is to break the law. Ought to be an easy sell to the politicians on the dole. How many eager but law fearing Stuckists would be willing to buck Uncle Sam with his dander up? Scott Fraser Brian Beesley continues the conversation started in last week's postbag. The "rebel hackers" don't appreciate the magnitude of the problem yet - working on the assumption that PCs will remain open, and routers will remain neutral. You misunderstand me. Routers will remain neutral in the parallel structure because they'll be in user premises, constructed using "open" hardware & software, connecting together open wireless islands. For WAN we resort to wireless again, if neccessary recycling the old University of Hawaii "Alohanet" from the mid-seventies, though these days we'd be able to do rather better than 9.6 Kbits/sec. We can do all this with current "open" consumer computer & radio technology. The result is that the "secure" system will leak like a sieve; eventually the pragmatists will realise that the "rebels" can't be beaten, and a realistic compromise will have to be found. Just as in previous cases e.g. the lost battle by the UK authorities against "illegal" citizens' band radio. Given that there is so much open hardware already in existence, my guess is that Palladium cannot be enforced within five years. I have every expectation that, by then, the parallel network will be in place. Most people who know me consider I'm a pessimist; thanks for accusing me of over-optimism, that doesn't happen often! Regards Brian Beesley The communications issue could be solved using this http://www.bpfh.net/rfc/rfc2549.html Mike Nixon No - break the law, dammit:- Humans are not simply rule-following animals; that scarcely distinguishes them from any other. They are above all rule-breaking. I cannot think of any social advance that did not require the breaking of rules. And one of the most important, but rarely acknowledged, functions of the rule of law is to make clearer which rules must be broken. Our very future depends on it. Yours sincerely Duncan Macdonald Boycotts should be focused, writes one reader:- Andrew: "We need an active campaign on the lines of "We're NOT buying CDs from the pigopolists. We're NOT going to the movies", writes David Cefai I like it. And I believe that it should be done during the last week of November. Why then, you ask? The last Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day in the States, an orgy of conspicuous gluttony exceeded only by the following Friday which is the official start of the Christmas shopping season (although I think the stores should be putting their Christmas decos up any day now, if trends hold true), and is the SINGLE BIGGEST RETAIL SALES DAY OF THE YEAR. Now, for the past several years, AdBusters has been (semi)organizing a worldwide protest for that Friday - "Buy Nothing Day". If we can add our voices and theirs and piggyback our messages together we could conceivably get a little synergistic effect going and make Swiny, Time-Whiner, and all the rest sit up and take notice.The one disadvantage of this sched, that I can see is that, with the holiday in the U.S. and a possible lull in sales in the week before the "real" holiday season begins (does anyone out there in Reg-land know if this happens?), the media outlets - with the exception of the movie theaters - might EXPECT that week to show a sales dip. In that case, the alternative is to START it on Friday the 29th, using But Nothing Day as a kickoff and running for the week following, right at the start of the Saturnalia Bacchanalia. Anyone interested in Buy Nothing Day, and links to the rest of AdBusters' culture-jamming ideas, should go to AdBusters site. Mike Moyle The real issue here is that it will take YEARS, of constant effort to get pols to notice your position. It took 18 years for Campaign Finance to get passed, despite retired Senators as far apart McGovern and Goldwater saying it's been a problem. DC doesn't have voting rights despite 30 years of work. Hopefully GeekPAC will realize this. Politics is a messy business, and sometimes, it takes a long time to be effective. R Lindsay So you want to stockpile you old hardware? Fritz Junior will simply propose a law that makes it illegal to own non-Palladium hardware. Penalty 20 years. Would you want to be the first to lose 20 years of your life for a few computer bits and pieces. They may represent your freedom but they can also take it away. If the whole population stood with you and defied the authorities it would win. If you stand in front and lead you will most likely be pursued, humiliated and thrown in jail if not killed, accidentally of course. Are you brave enough? You look to China. Why? They will also embrace Palladium. Why not. This increases the level of control they will have over their citizens. I believe that the US, EU and Chinese governments are all after the same thing in spite of their differing overt ideologies. Power and control. So you think you can vote with your dollars? This will work for a while. Until the electronic infrastructure is built up with great fanfare about the new millenium of technology. Then suddenly your are no longer able to participate in society without a special outlet at your home. To ensure your privacy (wry laugh) a form of PKI (escrow form) is legislated and you are issued with an encryption key to access the network. Your signature is now no longer the primary legal form of identification. Too easy to forget, they say. TV has become digital and is no longer free to air. You need a decoder at home. You can't turn the device off because this clears the encryption key from memory and costs say 20 pounds to reinstate. This is an unfortunate side effect of the new technology which can't tell a power failure from an attempt at reverse engineering. The TV power is supplied through the decoder so you can't turn that off either. Any untoward events related to encryption keys cause yours and your family's to be deactivated for the sake of safety of course and you need to be issued with a new one. This takes two weeks and while you're off the network you can't access your bank accounts, your bills don't get paid, your medical records are locked so if you get sick you can't get medical treatment. Even though your doctor has known you for 30 years that bit of legislation was passed last winter, says that you need your encryption key to identify yourself and that has been invalidated. Your kids can't go to school and miss their exams. You can't get to work because the security system is keyed to your encryption code. Your life just got flushed. Then you realise with a sinking feeling that a law was passed just last month that makes it your legal responsibility to ensure that your encryption key is not compromised. Penalty 6 months detention unless you can prove you were assaulted and had your pass stolen. Now you have a criminal record and cannot hold down any job which requires an unblemished record including being a janitor. You lose your home and your family. Ok, so this may be a little out there but not impossible. I know I don't have all the answers. But this little 'for-instance' hopefully serves to illustrate some other possible futures that we may experience. Martin Loeffler Canberra, Australia While this is nothing personal against Mrs. Grubb, as from reading her website she seems to be rather practical, US Libertarians (again note the capital) would be hard pressed to actually do anything to protect our digital rights. The CATO institute, the head US Libertarian think tank recognizes intellectual property as being just that, property. This would not only get in the way of any effort to abolish the DMCA, it would make the DMCA automatic. Copy Protection can be seen as a form of IP, therefore breaking the protection damages the value of the IP, which is a no-no for Libertarians. Even worse, a Libertarian government would open the door for more mergers and less choice in the marketplace, making a "Stuckist Net" even more likely. Even though a Libertarian government would not enforce these laws criminally, this is a minor point compared to the threats at lawyerpoint which is the real damage of the DMCA and other such laws. I'm not a communist or an anarchist, I support common-sense protections of IP for a limited amount of time. It's just that as someone who has followed the Libertarian movement for some time, to see our hopes for digital rights framed about a movement that would do nothing to protect them is a tad bit concerning. It doesn't matter if it's government or business, when our rights are trampled we get flattened. Thank you for your time. Glenn MacEachern Canada Dear Andrew I am glad to see that the Stuckist Art Group has provided a name also for an alternative web project. I don't understand all the technical jargon, but do agree with the general gist of maintaining freedom of communication outside the oppression of big business monopolies. It is generally in line with our own ideas. If you haven't read them, then check out Manifestos page on www.stuckism.com I actually coined the term Stuckism (and Stuckist), initially for the art group, but with a view also to giving a name to a particular and, right now very necessary, attitude to life. You seem to hold the same philosophy. The term is slowly spreading and being applied outside our group, but yours is perhaps the strongest application to date. It has already caused a little confusion with some people who think it is one of our projects. I suggest therefore that a line of clarification might be help out here. Maybe along the lines of: The term Stuckist has been used with permission from the Stuckist Art Group, who have no responsibility for the ideas of Stuckist Net or any related activities. See www.stuckism.com I hope this is acceptable to you. Best wishes Charles Thomson Co-founder The Stuckists
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Sep 2002

RIAA servers still broken

Chaos continues at the RIAA's website after weeks of defacement activity. If you care to fill out the form on the feee0000dback page, you'll get the following message:- Error Occurred While Processing Request Error Diagnostic Information No SMTP Server Specified for CFMAIL In order to send SMTP mail messages, ColdFusion requires that a default SMTP server be specified. You can set the default SMTP server using the 'Mail' page of the ColdFusion Administrator. Alternatively, you can make sure that all CFMAIL tags have a SERVER= attribute provided. In this particular case, no SERVER= attribute was provided and no default SMTP server setting has been specified. The error occurred while processing an element with a general identifier of (CFMAIL), occupying document position (4:1) to (4:95). The specific sequence of files included or processed is: F:\RecordingIndustry\wwwroot\Contact_Confirm.cfm [my IP address and browser client recorded here] HTTP Referer: http://www.riaa.org/Contact.cfm Template: F:\RecordingIndustry\wwwroot\Contact_Confirm.cfm Clearly there's nobody home. They've detached the SMTP server from the Cold Fusion app server. So they can't hear or respond to your valued feedback. Accidentally, or on purpose? ® Related Story Pigopolist's pants still down
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Sep 2002

I'll see your domain name in (US) Court!

Two little-noticed and otherwise unremarkable decisions from the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, decided on 23 August 2002, now affirm a principle that is perhaps worrying for those 20 million or so .com domain name registrants who live outside the USA. The cases deal with the question of the geographical location of a domain name and which court can exercise jurisdiction over it. So where exactly does a domain name live? If you're a purist, you'll say that it doesn't 'live' anywhere - the Domain Name System is a tree structured distributed database involving a hierarchy of nodes from leaf to root. In other words, your domain name is an address accessible via a range of entries on a range of geographically dispersed computers connected to the Internet. But if you're a United States District Judge, presented with a .com domain name, you'll say that a domain name is a piece of property with a geographical existence - in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA. Why? Because that is where the registry for .com domain names is to be found. The court decisions affirming this principle were Porsche Cars v Porsche.net and others, and Harrods Limited v Sixty Internet Domain Names. You may be wondering how it is that the Plaintiffs appear to be suing domain names rather than people or companies. In an odd twist, strange at least to most non-lawyers, US law says that a domain name is a piece of property that can be sued in its own right. This is called an in rem action (Latin for 'against the thing' as opposed to in personam or 'against the person'). The consequence of this peculiar state of affairs is that all of those registrants who have a .com domain name but live outside Virginia are viewed as absentee owners of property situated there. If you injure someone by virtue of that property (we're talking trademark disputes here) then Virginia's courts will take the case. This may sound surprising, but it has worked for both Porsche and Harrods, each of whom sued some sixty or so domains in a single action. In Porsche's case, at least two of the domains belonged to a British citizen with no immediately apparent connection to Virginia. In Harrods, the domain names were registered by Harrods BA, a South American department store formerly allied to its famous namesake in the UK. Porsche's British defendant has now agreed to submit to personal jurisdiction in California but this seems to have been a tactical move in the litigation and does not defeat the general principle that he could be hauled into a Virginia court for the sake of his domain names. At the root of the problem is the fact that the US Congress has treated domain names as property in terms of legislation called the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act 1999, or ACPA for short. It's plain from the title of the Act that Congress was grappling with cybersquatting - admittedly a major issue for US business and in particular for trademark holders at the height of the dot-com boom. But the US has ploughed its own furrow with its approach. Many countries' legal systems accept that in trademark disputes a domain name can be treated as a sign, the analogy being that registering coke.com in conflict with the Coca-Cola Company's rights is much the same as nailing up a large board over your business with the word 'Coke' painted on it in the familiar style of that company's brand without the right to do so. However, few would elevate a domain name from being a sign or indicator to the level of being an item of property. Lawyers from most countries agree that a domain name is a right held under a contract from a domain registry that, in simple terms, says "We, the Registry, will put an entry on our computer that directs people looking for your domain name to whatever computers you would like us to". It's a long step in most people's minds from that kind of contract for services to a formal right in property. To give an example, in the UK you're most likely to see an in rem action being raised against a ship; a nice, obvious, physical thing you can see and touch, and a piece of property that has an identifiable location from moment to moment. But now the same situation applies for domain names, as confirmed by the US Court of Appeals. So for as long as the .com registry (and incidentally, the .net, .org and many other registries) are situated in the USA, US jurisdiction will apply. The Court in the Harrods case held that Virginia's interests in the marketability of property within its borders and in providing dispute resolution concerning the possession of that property supported the exercise of in rem jurisdiction. It went on:- Virginia's interest in not permitting foreign companies to use rights emanating from, and facilities located in, its territory to infringe U.S. trademarks also supports [this] exercise.... In other words, if your .com domain name (however inadvertently) infringes a US trademark, the Commonwealth of Virginia has an interest in not permitting you, as a foreigner or otherwise, to use the facilities of the domain name registry database. If you thought you were registering your domain name with your registration service provider in your own particular country, think again:- By registering these domain names in Virginia [the Defendants] exposed those names to the jurisdiction of the courts in Virginia (state or federal) at least for the limited purpose of determining who properly owns the Domain Names themselves. So how bad is this for non-US citizens? Happily, the circumstances in which you're likely to find yourself in a Virginia court are limited to trademark and cybersquatting matters, covering trademark infringement, trademark dilution and domain name registration in bad faith. However, it is clear from the Harrods case that a clash of genuine trademark rights (admittedly with an element of potential trademark abuse on the part of the defendant) can take you, or more accurately, your domain names to a Virginia court. Andrew Lothian is the CEO of Demys, a specialist in Internet brand protection. He is a serving member of the Nominet (UK Internet Naming Authority) Dispute Resolution Service Expert Panel and a recent appointee to the World Intellectual Property Organization's Domain Name Panel.
Andrew Lothian, 04 Sep 2002

Canoodling women and PC components don't mix

Using images of women kissing and fondling one another while trying to flog PC components is a big no-no, watchdogs ruled today. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint against Darlington-based SSG Technology after it ran a saucy ad for PC components in Computer Trade Only magazine. The full-page ad featured a close up of two women embracing one another and kissing, with one woman touching the other's breast outside of her dress. The text read: "Time for a change?" "Life is too short to hesitate. Whatever is on your mind regarding PC components and peripherals - call us. If you are considering the benefits of a new distribution partner, we are the right choice. All other desires will remain confidential...". SSG denied that the ad was offensive (risqué maybe, but not offensive) arguing that it appeared in a trade magazine available only to people in the IT industry. However, this was not enough for the ASA. "The image of two women kissing in an advertisement for PC components was gratuitous and likely to cause serious or widespread offence," sniffed the ASA. SSG has been asked not to use the image in future. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Sep 2002

Wanadoo ups revs, narrows losses

Europe's number two ISP, Wanadoo, expects to have more than one million broadband customers by the end of 2002. Publishing half year results today the French ISP - which owns the UK's Freeserve - also reckons it will have some 15m customers throughout Europe by 2005, up from 6.8m active subscribers today. The monster ISP generated revenues of €918m during the first six months of 2002 - up 33 per cent on the same period last year. This growth was mainly due to an 89 per cent increase in revenues from Internet access, along with a 45 per cent rise in revenues from its Internet directories business. Earnings before interest, etc (EBITDA) were €28m, compared to an EBITDA loss of euro;54m during the same period last year. Wanadoo's Net access and portal business racked up €516m during H1 compared to €305m a year before. This part of the business still managed to make an EBITDA loss of €87m, down from €147m in 2001. No figures were available for the performance of individual country ISPs. Neither was anyone at Wanadoo or Freeserve available for comment at the time of writing. But in a statement Nicolas Dufourcq, chairman and CEO of Wanadoo, said: "Wanadoo's results for the first half of 2002 reflect the company's strong performance. "With revenues increasing 33 per cent and positive EBITDA of 28 million euros one year ahead of initial forecasts, Wanadoo has demonstrated its ability to achieve profitable growth in Internet access and online services." ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Sep 2002

9/11 prompts more govt surveillance

Government surveillance increased throughout the West in the year following the September 11 terrorist attacks. A joint study by watchdogs Electronic Privacy Information Center and Privacy International charts increased communications surveillance, weakening of data protection regimes, and increased profiling and identification of individuals post 9/11. Law enforcement agencies have sought to extend their powers of surveillance in the US, Canada, Australia, India, Singapore and European Union countries, the report notes. In many cases, security services and the police had been seeking tougher powers for year but these proposals were consistently rejected. All that changed with the attacks on the World Trade Center last year, when legislators became inclined to rubber stamp whatever ideas law enforcement put forward. It's not all bad news though. According to The 2002 Privacy and Human Rights, laws to protect privacy in the workplace are gaining more support and that efforts to pass new data protection laws are continuing in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Emerging technologies for identification and surveillance will be key debating points over the next year, according to the report's authors. ® External Links Privacy and Human Rights: An International Survey of Privacy Law and Practices Related Stories Canada preps Internet snoopers charter EU to force ISPs and telcos to retain data for one year World leaders use terror card to watch all of us. Forever
John Leyden, 04 Sep 2002

Sony chief Zens away Ericsson phone panic

Sony boss Kunitake Ando has spoken out to quash fears over the future of its partnership with Ericsson to produce mobile cellular handsets. Everything's OK, he insists. Last week cash-strapped Ericsson - which despite almost a century of pioneering telephony work, is now trading at junk bond status - said it might withdraw from the phone partnership with Sony. The JV employs over 3,000 people and has brought to market the successful T68 handset, and plans to launch the much-hyped P800 smartphone later this year. "We are now in the process of getting into one and trying to harmonize," said Sony President Kunitake Ando, cryptically: in a statement that only Marin County or Sedona residents could possibly fully understand. With neither a hot tub, nor crystals available for comment, we'll have to bring you a full analysis of this koan later. But seriously, what's the worse that could happen? The joint venture was intended to marry Ericsson's long standing radio technology, patent portfolio and carrier relationships with Sony's consumer branding expertise. It was a timely marriage, as Ericsson had quite simply forgotten how to make an appealing consumer phone. The T68 handset, which was launched shortly before Christmas, was a smash hit and did much to restore Ericsson's position in the market. But the company was soundly slapped by analysts for failing to follow through with bargain basement siblings, and slapped again for failing to upgrade the T68's successor, the T68i. The latter is essentially the same hardware as last year's model: an extraordinary gamble in today's fast moving handset market. Much attention is now focussed on the P800 smartphone - possibly the most hyped handheld device since the Apple Newton - but this doesn't look like a 2002 product to us, despite its appearance in September's phone catalogs on this side of the pond. Given Sony's strategic interest in handheld computers, particularly as a gateway to its other content or entertainment assets (games, movies and music), if Ericsson pulls out then the Japanese giant is sure to move in, and pick up the pieces. ® Related Stories Ericsson wobbles (big time) over Sony Ericsson SonyEricsson cuts Linux P800 fee to zero Sony, Apple make phone dream team GUI wars return: Motorola, Sony Ericsson tie-up Hands on with the PDA-killer Sony P800
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Sep 2002