Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The robotics department over at the University of Pennsylvania has created a very early version of the Iron Giant. (a movie where a giant robot gets blown up and all the pieces start to come back together)
This little robot was made up of pieces that where each robots on their own. When the pieces where separated they would talk to each other, via signals and Infrared, to come up with the best solution to join back together into one bigger robot.
There are many different applications with this kind of technology, but the one that I think would be the coolest is a 21st century version of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots; Kids can controls robots in real time to fight each other and the one that gets destroyed looses then reassembles itself for the next round. Now of course the technology is not nearly advanced enough for anything close to this, but it would be a neat thing to see further down the line of robotics.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Other links used:
Everyone knows there are other places one could purchase music on the internet, like Amazon or Yahoo, but in all honesty, the iTunes is omnipotent. Idealistically, Magnatune is probably the biggest breakthrough in the online music industry since iTunes. Whether it will actually revolutionize how music is obtained* over the internet, we shall have to wait and see.
*because who ever buys songs anymore?**
**Magnatune was designed to solve this problem.
A summarized breakdown of Magnatune:
1. Unlike the iTunes store, Magnatune is a record label. Thus, Magnatune only sells songs/albums of the artists who are signed under them.
2. Unlike the iTunes store and their teasing 20 second song clips, Magnatune allows for the consumer to listen to entire songs/albums.
3. Unlike the iTunes store, Magnatune consumers get to decide how much they pay for an album within the range of $5 and $18.
4. Unlike the iTunes store, Magnatune shares the profits from purchases evenly with its musicians. 50/50.
5. Unlike the iTunes store, Magnatune music isn't licensed via copyright, but via Creative Commons.
6. Unlike the iTunes store, Magnatune only sells downloads and does not use DRM (which is why they use Creative Commons..).
CEO John Buckman started the Magnatune record label as a project to orchestrate the relationship between artists and customers a little more.. harmoniously. As I understand it, there is no in-the-dark or fine print in Magnatune; its tagline "We are not evil." is pretty much as subtle as they get about their goal.
Musicians signed under Magnatune have their songs licensed through Creative Commons, freeing both producer and consumer from the swamp that is copyright. As mentioned earlier, Magnatune splits its profit 50/50 with its artists - unheard of in the music industry. Magnatune is the first record label to license their signed artists online. Buyers who want to use a song/album in their non-commercial projects consent to this license by paying a small licensing fee, and the music is immediately downloaded to their PC, in all it's unfettered and CD-quality glory. Before purchasing a song/album, buyers can listen to the entirity of a song in mp3 format, without any DRM strings.
All of these aspects of Magnatune definitely do promote good relations between musicians, record labels, and buyers. The 50/50 profit share brings in relatively huge amount of revenue in royalties. Royalties refer to amount of revenue that goes to the artists from the sale of their merchandise. In the world outside of Magnatune, royalties for musicians are an almost negligible percentage compared to how much of the sales profits go to the record label (on average, artists usually make around $0.20 per cd they sell; the rest of the profit goes to the label and other places.. it's pathetic, get it?). Hopefully, if you're a fan of a band and aren't a complete schmuck, you'll do your part in showing appreciation by buying their music in a contract that deals them 50% of the sales.
That Magnatune allows for the buyer to decide how much they want to pay for an album is what the article defined as very eBay-esque: the price of a song or album is correlated directly with the buyer's willingness to pay. This is very different from other online music stores (e.g.: iTunes), as each song has a flat rate of $0.99. It is also in this manner that buyers can support the bands they are fans of, and music is obtained so that it is a win-win situation for both musician and fan. The fact that Magnatune music is licensed using Creative Commons will probably attract many buyers (who have any knowledge about copyright or CC (such as ourselves<3)).
There is a very, very small catch: Magnatune isn't known for selling mainstream/well-known jams.. in which case I don't know why you would even bother buying mp3s they play nonstop on the radio until your ears start to bleed.
Reading up on Magnatune makes me realize how much nicer the internet is without copyright. Fewer strings, more win-wins, etc. Steve Jobs and the iTunes store are quite the force to be reckoned with, but there is an alternative (and hopefully, more to come)! In any case, buying songs from iTunes is legit, too.
This new knowledge offers a very unique perspective concerning everyone who raves about their favorite artists, only to upload their new albums from LimeWire or Torrent for free:
YOU ALL ARE FOOLS.
Haha, I'm just kidding. Kind of.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The record companies are participating in this experiment as an attempt to boost business, which has been failing over the years as music is becoming more easily obtainable illegally. Working with chief companies such as EMI, BMG and Universal Music Group; Myspace will attempt to build an expansive library of music which is expected to surpass that of Itunes, but they will initially only have several hundred thousand songs. Various attempts to compete with Itunes have been made (most notably, Rhapsody, Napster and Yahoo Music), offering services such as large libraries of music for monthly fees; but despite the competition, Itunes is still in the lead of online music industry. Going even further, Myspace is eventually hoping to cover more aspects of the music industry, such as selling concert tickets and band merchandise. Questions have arisen to whether or not Myspace will be able to balance and upkeep the social networking aspect of the site while adding in all these new features.
I personally think there is currently a good balance between the music and social networking aspects of Myspace, but more additions could be somewhat hectic. This is seen by many as an attempt to not only compete with Itunes, but also to regain interest in Myspace. Ever since the rise of Facebook, Myspace has failed to regain interest - I'm refering to the social networking aspect, but on the other hand, the Myspace Band pages are still unmatched by any other competitors to promote both big label and independent artists. I believe that if this works as planned and is sucessful, that Myspace could end up being a node for all aspects of music (central place to promote, buy apparel/tickets and so on). This is a huge and very risky step for Myspace to take and just may be all they need to boost music sales and to regain the competitive edge over two giants of the internet: Itunes and Facebook.
- Eric Olsen
(Article used: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26875502/wid/11915829)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I finally got around to putting up a survey so people can vote for their favorite remixes. To listen to the tunes go to our wiki page on remixes. Then please complete our survey. Feel free to vote for the remixes from both sections.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Author Peter Bright
Reverse engineering is when you take a product apart just to see how the product is made. This was an interesting article because we had just learned about this topic in our last class. We had also heard Bunnies speech of where he reverse engineered the Xbox. The question that this article proposes is whether Google’s new program copies the format taken from Windows. The author even goes as far to say that Google’s program reversed engineered Windows, which is strictly against Windows EULA.
First off the author looks into the new Chrome security architecture. He started off comparing how other web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer among others feature a single process model. He explains that with a single process model you use one tab for all your work, so if something were to freeze up then you would be S.O.L.
Bright then goes into detail about how the new Vista and Internet Explorer browsers have already begun to expand from the single process model. Vista’s new technology allows more security when you enter “security zones.” If you enter one security zone then Vista will block access to other zones that are trying to get into your computer. The new Internet Explorer version 8 uses a multi-tab system, which has individual security for each new tab you open. “With IE8, one tab can crash and other tabs are unaffected” states Bright.
Bright then goes into the idea of DEP (Data Execution Prevention). DEP is a feature designed to prevent buffer overflows from being able to inject executable code into a process. To understand this concept you need to know the difference between readable and executable and/or rewritable. What Internet Explorer 8 has done is used DEP to make its programs readable and writable, not executable.
What Chrome has done is it has copied almost all of the features put in by Vista and Internet Explorer. It uses the tab per process method and it has incorporated DEP. Google claims that it did not reverse engineer anything and in fact they found their information on a website called uniformed.org.
In conclusion this article was confusing to understand. Even though Google’s Chrome program looks to have reversed engineered and copied Vista and Internet Explorer, Chrome claims to have used info from a free use site. My take is that Microsoft opened their product to the public, so the only blame should go to Google’s creativity.
Also found here: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/23/1219205
The “Loudness War” has been taking place since the invention of the jukebox and the radio, any place where music from different people might be heard subsequently. Because a song with a higher average loudness stands out to the human ear, record companies are in a mad race to make their songs louder, to make their songs stand out. Everyone out there is recording songs louder and louder to beat out all of the opponents. Since the invention of CDs, they could begin to do this without compromising play time like they would have with the vinyl records, which have limited physical space.
However, in order for these companies to give a track more ‘loudness’, they sacrifice what is called Dynamic Range. Dynamic Range is the difference between the louder and quieter parts of a song. When the average loudness is raised, the dynamic range is compressed, making it significantly smaller. This is considered by many to degrade the quality of the music as well as not letting it “breathe”. The constant volume of every element of the song can also be damaging to the listener’s ears, while music with a higher dynamic range reaches high and low points of loudness, allowing the listener’s ears a rest before the next high point.
In the smaller article from Slashdot.com, it is mentioned that this increase in volume and over-compression of the dynamic range could very possibly be bringing future improvements in sound quality to a screeching halt. Because all of today’s music is recorded so loudly and the dynamics are so static, there is essentially no room to improve that kind of noise. Also, when the music sounds so static, it becomes very flat and tiresome to listen to. Basically, the entire song sounds the same from beginning to end.
CDs, jukeboxes, and radios aren’t the only places that compression is occurring. On the internet, mp3 files and other popular formats are compressed to make the file smaller, which degrades the quality of the song. Whenever these files are copied, the quality continues to plummet.
To sum it all up, the “Loudness War” is no good for anyone, at the very least in the long run. Consumers get sick of the music, technological advances are extremely difficult to make, and overall, all the new music begins to sound the same.
Actually, it makes sense now why it is becoming tiresome to listen to my old CDs.
There are two methods of modding an Xbox: 1)Soft modding & 2)Hard modding. Soft modding only changes software on the xbox whereas hard modding is taking the Xbox apart and modifying or adding to the hardware inside the console, such as adding a chip that allows you to play bootleg versions of games, or dvd's.
The modding that I've had experience with and by far the easiest for the inexperienced is soft modding. This method is much less expensive as modding and, with a little bit of computer background experience, is relatively easy to understand. I learned how to do everything and got all the software (or links to the software) from Se7enSins.com, which is a great site but not the only one for information on modding.
And now down to business, how I went about modding my Xbox and then Halo 2.
I first started off reading a lot about the subject on the forums at Se7enSins, such as tutorials and other people experiences and problems with doing it. After learning a lot about modding I then set out to do it!
Before modding could start I had to have the right "tools". First i needed a copy of 1 of 3 games the first of the splinter cell series (for Xbox, of course), 007 Agent Under Fire (Xbox), or Mech Assault (also for the Xbox) both of these games allowed the designers of the hacking software to install that software onto the Xbox through save game files for those games. Second I needed a device called an Action Replay Max, which is just something that allows you to store your saved game files from your Xbox to your computer. The action replay allowed me to take the modding software (stored in a save game file for one of the two games) and transfer it from my computer to my xbox. Finally i needed all the software for hacking and ftp'ing to my Xbox (ftp just allows you to transfer files from one computer to another, in this case the other is the Xbox)
The only reason I wanted to mod my Xbox was to mod Halo 2, and to do that I had to be able to get into my Xbox's files, particularly my Halo2 map files, and the only way to get to those files is to ftp to the Xbox and they only way to ftp to the Xbox is to mod it to allow for ftp'ing.
After going through all the technicalities with downloading the modding software to my Xbox then installing it properly I was able to ftp to the Xbox which allows me to alter any files that I wanted to. At first I just copied the .map files from Halo 2 to my computer, changed them (with some free software that i learned about on Se7enSins) and put them back on the Xbox. Eventually I wanted to see just what i could do with my Xbox. Again i went back to Se7ensins and read about other things you could do. I read about many different things you could do such as watching TV on the Xbox or browsing the web or copying disks. The two things I tried (and succeeded with) where putting a Super Nintendo Emulator on the Xbox, and putting a full Xbox game onto the hard drive of the Xbox.
Putting the Super Nintendo Emulator onto the Xbox was really simple, I just had to transfer the emulator (which was designed to run on the Xbox) files onto the xbox. Putting a full Xbox game onto the hard drive was also fairly easy, I just had to put in the game (of course i choose Halo 2) and use tools that were installed with the modding software and copy it to a game file on the Xbox, then play it. One reason I wanted to put the the full version of Halo onto the Xbox was so I could mod the maps that came already on the disk i.e. Lockout. Before the game was on the xbox i couldn't copy the files from cd onto my computer and put them back on the cd, that just wouldn't work, but with the files now on the Xbox itself i could just pull the .map files that came with the cd, modify them then put them back where I found them.
That was my experience with modding my Xbox and Halo 2.
Just a couple warnings that are kind of obvious: 1) Modding game then playing them online can have penalties depending on the game and the company's online policies for that game. For example, Bungie (the creators of Halo 2), if they detect that you have modified Halo 2 .map files on your Xbox then they will ban you from matchmaking and you will only be able to play in customs games (only with friends or friends of friends). 2) when modding an Xbox, or any other console, there is always a chance that you just completely fry your system, even if you follow all the instructions form the tutorials and have done everything right. So far I have modded three different Xboxes and all have gone smoothly, but you never know.
Xbox Tutorials page: http://www.se7ensins.com/forums/xbox-tutorials/
Halo 2 Tutorials: http://www.se7ensins.com/forums/halo-2/
Modding Tut. I used: URL was too Long :-/
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The worst part about research papers: every past study and journal can be conveniently accessed through online science journals provided by your school's proxy. Anyone who has a computer and internet can now work in the comfort of his/her room without having to go from one library to another hunting primary articles down, caveman-style.
The real worst part about research papers: No one really has an excuse for not having their paper completed on time. :|
Did you find the catch? One only has access to these papers, articles, etc through the school's subscription. Current debate in Congress centers around why private databases should charge for people to read about publicly funded research. Advocates of this so called "open access" to scientific research scored a point just this year when Congress has passed legislation forcing NIH (National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Government's top headquarters for biomed research) to make their research and work available to the public. However, publication companies are now fighting back, essentially moving for research to be eligible for protection under copyright.
As of right now, all federally funded experiments and research belong to the researchers and researchers' institutions from which the experiments were conducted. The new NIH policy reserves the right for the researchers they sponsor to place their work in the institute's own publication database. This database is hosted by PubMed Central; PMC.
The pseudo-compromise that currently exists between supporters of open access and publishers is that research turned into the PMC isn't released to the public until a year after it's submitted date. These papers don't have to contain the images and formatting originally drawn by the publication company. Basically, publishers aren't required to detail every component of their research; they essentially only have to let us know they've conducted research. For the most part though, many publishers have grown to accept this 1-year hold policy as fair for both sides, allowing for the whole of their work to be accessible to the public.
There are, however, publishers who are still adamantly against open access. They have rallied together, demanding to be paid by the PMC for submitting their work. The negative reaction is easy totally understandable; publication of research is overwhelmingly expensive if one takes into account the costs of editting, formatting, and peer reviewing. Others have formed lobbying groups against said legislation, and all other open access movements.
This is where I think topic of our FSEM is made relevant: copyright laws keeps articles printed in theses academic journals restricted to an audience that pays a subscription to read them. Although science, as has been mentioned in an earlier blog about the Large Hadron Collider, is a form of art that means to serve the well-being of an entire population, researchers/scientists/scholarly journals need to be paid too! Right?
The intregration of free academic publishing into business is nothing simple. No free lunch and all that.
Anyway, these grudging researchers are getting their say in Congress as well. Congressman John Conyers proposed a new bill in the House which basically ends NIH's mandate for all its research to be open access.
What happened? Well, the Judiciary Subcommittees for the Internet, Intellectual Property, and Courts committee reviewed the bill and made a correlation between the copyright policies of publicly funded research with and the copyright policies of self-marketing products (e.g.: music, entertainment etc). Those overseeing this hearing speculated the contradiction of pushing for open acces of copyrighted scientific material, when the rest of the government is pushing for the enforcement of copyright laws in other areas. Which is a good point: it's understandable for researchers to bitch a little about open access and "not respecting copyright terms" etc. In all honesty though, I think open access will be here to stay in the public sector, because of a better point: the public really does pay for almost all of the publishing process. What you pay for is what you own! (Sometimes).
I never want to write about this again.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Now, I'm not raggin' on Mary Washington, but this school's bandwidth (or lack thereof) sucks. There is nothing more infuriating than having a friend from another school (with better bandwidth.. AND WiFi) send me a couple of songs over AIM.. and having to wait 45 minutes to receive the files. There's also the matter of LimeWire PRO never reaching "Turbo" status; A.K.A. no new music when I want it. Even iTunes has to rebuff their 20-second streaming clips every 5 seconds when I want to listen to the newest jamz dem young'ns be playin'. I could probably write this blog entry and another one while I wait for a YouTube video to load. If I continue talking about this, I'm going to get a hernia.
Missouri University of Science & Technology upped their bandwidth this year. That means faster song transfers between buds on AIM, LimeWire at one's immediate disposal, all the iTunes song samples one could ask for, and 28,371,954 fully loaded YouTube videos at once. Kind of. It also means relatively instant P2P filesharing (as an increase in bandwidth allows for the apps to.. run like they're supposed to). However, because someone has to make life difficult, Systems Security Analyst Karl Lutzen designed a program for MUoS&T students to take a quiz before being able to access P2P applications. Default settings on all user accounts are so that P2P access is completely blocked until the user takes a quiz on P2P use. If the user passes, his/her account's "subscription" to P2P access is upgraded to an extra 6 hours. Students get 4 of these 6-hour activations per month.
Additionally, MU's new bandwidth management hardware allows for admin to allott bandwidth on a user to user basis. Simply put, Dobb's access to the network can be cut neatly at the same time Dunbar has complete access to said network. The upgraded hardware can also detect transmission of data between the network's computers with reasonable accuracy. What better machine is there to regulate the use of P2P applications?
Since the implentation of this new program, DMCA rants to the school have dropped significantly (200/yr to 7/yr). The DMCA, or Digital Millenium Copyright Act, basically outlaws any tech that can jump the copyright fence and enable access to said restricted works/property -- stuff one would find on any reputable P2P application. Before Lutzen and the school's Big-Brotherly bandwidth management hardware, numerous students were bombarded with notices from DMCA, and some even received letters from the RIAA (including a hefty fine of $3-4k stapled). The IT department at the school also would spend countless migraine-inducing hours handling DMCA takedowns. Overall, this new quiz excercise to increase awareness of the many potential illegalities that are strung to P2P applications has solved a lot of problems and saved a lot of time at MU.
Q: "Why does the school allow access to P2P file-share at all?"
A: World of Warcraft, along with other MMORPGs (look it up, if you care), are P2P applications and completely legal. (I laughed when I read this.)
It seems other schools have taken measures to deal with P2P traffic/problems.
Stanford University simply blocks frequent P2P violaters who have to pay up to $1,000 to get back on the school's network. Colorado-Boulder functions similarily in that they give each user 3 strikes before they're outted from the school's network, but students here don't have to pay a fee to be reconnected, and so on..
I suppose if schools want to rid themselves of the entire P2P/DMCA/RIAA mess AND save money, they should just take after Mary Washington and decrease bandwidth to the point that students just.. give up.
My Google video is still loading. Hate.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, there's a monstrous physics machine deep underground somewhere in Europe that started humming today. It flings protons at each other at ridiculous speeds, allowing scientists to conduct experiments that would be otherwise impossible.
This is a collection of images of the collider and the monument constructed above it. This is an article from yesterday, regarding the firing-up of the machine and the best and worst possible outcomes of the experiments, with respect to several major laws of physics.
I rather doubt that any physical laws will be destroyed in the near future, but it's certainly happened in the past. Once, it was simply the truth that the world was flat. And it was a pretty big deal when that changed. But we survived, and we can do so again.
What's really interesting to note is that scientific and mathematical discoveries are copyrighted. Or patented, at least. You can't go around claiming that you invented the lightbulb or that you discovered pi. If any of the scientists working at the LHC prove or disprove any major laws of physics, credit's all theirs. The easiest way to keep track of such things is my naming their new laws and discoveries after them. Pythagorean triangles, Newtonian physics, the Galileian moons...
The difference between this protection and the realm of copyright, however, is a big one. The problem with copyright is that nobody wants to claim rights to the music or the books. They don't want to say that it's their own creative property. They just want copies of it. They want to enjoy someone else's creative property without necessarily giving credit to the other person for making it. That's like... implementing a pythagorean triplet but not citing Pythagoras. It's really not a big deal in the mathematical world. It happens all the time, and it's never a problem.
Why can't literature be more like math? Probably because math is free to practice, and literature usually isn't. But isn't that what libraries are for? Libraries are a wonderful concept. You don't have to pay for books, you can simply read them. I think they should be somehow expanded to the digital world. Online libraries, storing music and videos and digital media, that you can cite and look at, but you cannot copy. Perhaps it is an idealistic concept, but it's certainly a good one. The biggest problem with it is that is still does not cover the issue of remixes. When is it okay for someone to edit another person's work? Is it?
I think it is, as long as credit is given to the original author, but only for the original work.
The speech has plenty of dynamite points that explain how artists are getting screwed over, not by bit torrents and Limewire, but by their own record companies. Courtney Love actually defends all media sharing on the Internet because of the fact that it creates a more direct relationship with the artist and the fan. This way there is no record label that can rob you of all your hard earned money, and leave you bankrupt. Love believes that instead of fighting the media sharing, record companies should cooperate with the then Napsters and Gnutellas of the world, and make it even easier for all people to get music but more importantly connect with the artist. Basically, the internet is a wonderful thing, or as she says, "glamorous".
Love goes on and explains a new "technical amendment" added by Mitch Glazer, a congressional aid, that basically gave the recording companies the right to sell the work of its artists, with no consultation or payment to the artist. The original Copyrights Act of 1978 stated that after 35 years, the artists works would be given back...35 YEARS!!!! Just a little ridiculous, and you can't help but sympathize with the artist that now they can't own their work, and instead it becomes someone else's. Love calls this "sharecropping".
In the next few pages she keeps babbling on about how the current system is extremely inadequate when it comes to find potential fans. The babbling also consists of plenty of curse words which further emphasize her points, as well as emphasizing how much of a bad ass this woman is. I found the last part about money to be particularly interesting. She explains that most artists, besides the "pure" ones, do what they do for money. There needs to be some extra incentive besides the fame fans give them. Money is something everyone needs in this world and she says that it is only natural for someone to want money for the work they put out.
I think this speech was truly inspiring, as someone who listens to music and does from time to time, download illegally. You hear about these problems in the music system in a countless number of songs from all kinds of different genres of music. From 2pac to Kenny Chesney. I sympathize whole heartedly with all of Courtney Love's points and I think she did a great job in conveying them publicly.
Since the article is fairly old, however, in it Mann makes a few assumptions that can already be seen as incorrect. One was over the competition between books and computers. The supporters of paper complained that computers were taking over, but a comment was made that "[people] have not adjusted to bulky picture tubes on their desks." Perhaps not then, but now they are as widespread as televisions. They're not bulky or heavy anymore, either. Computers have become versatile, mobile and commonplace, just like books. In 1998, that wasn't really a threat, or at least not one that everyone took seriously, but it's certainly come to pass, only 10 years later.
In the last third of the article, Mann moves into a history lesson. Taking us back two hundred years, he shows us that the use and abuse of copyright is not a new thing. He also presents arguments that copyright isn't necessarily good, and that piracy isn't necessarily bad. At least, not for the general public. In fact, when printing was a fairly novice trade, underground printing was the only way to get new works out to everyone. But it hurt the authors of the works, because they didn't get compensated for their creative property. Because that's really what it boils down to. Authors, artists and inventors, programmers, musicians... everyone deserves a right to their own creations. And they deserve to profit from them.
The article begins with the premise that throughout history , any object people thought was worth copying has been copied. It used to be that copying could be regulated using existing law systems. Small scale copiers didn’t really matter, and large scale copiers could be taken down using police and courts. But the increasing number of intangible “objects” being copied has hindered the ability to regulate.
The article also assumes three things. The first being that at least some users of the objects will posses the object in a form in which it is possible to copy, and third that users have a capable connection to channels that can carry the copies. The darknet, is according to these specifications, the network that results from the transfer of objects and ability of users.
In order to function properly, the darknet must have 5 distinct capabilities: input, transmission, output, database, and storage. Most legislation that intends to disrupt the darknet takes aim at the output and cataloging ability of the network. However most legislation aimed at the darknet is limited in effectiveness and has no real implications on its functionality.
The original darknet consisted of groups of social peers who had access to the desired objects. The objects had to be manually transported, and even though this level of bandwidth was low, it was enough to sustain the rather slow demand for copied materials. There was very little legal pursuit in this age of the darknet.
The next step in the darknet’s evolution came with the internet going mainstream around 1998. By then most people had access to it and could quickly share information with people who weren’t even their peers. However, it was much easier to prosecute illegal uses of this new technology, because darknet users were usually concentrated on very distinct servers. This made it easy for a copyright owner to send a “cease and desist” letter and pursue legal recourse if they so desired.
Next came Napster. It was the first darknet protocol to offer a fast method of output AND input as well as providing users with a comprehensive search engine of it’s catalog. Napster would eventually be taken down for as it was shown that it was being used overwhelmingly to share copyrighted material.
Another , and more popular method of sharing objects is peer-to-peer networking. In these networks people open up their disk space and allow others to access it in return for the ability to access others’ files. The problem with these networks lies in the existence of free loaders. The success of the program demands that everyone share equally making it harder to track the users (for illegal materials). However the vast majority of objects come from a very small portion of the users.
To combat the prevelance of these p2p networks, right holders have begun to use DRM (digital rights management) to restrict what a consumer can do with his or her object even after it has been legally purchased. Some companies have even gone so far as to hide software on common vectors for objects (i.e. CD’s and DVD’s) that restricts how a file can be used. However, it is possible for most of this software to be subverted by a small portion of darknet users.
Because of the potential vulnerability of this software, new methods of restriction are being developed. One of these methods is watermarking, which involves imbedding a signature of sort on a file that marks it as needing a license to perform cetain acts such as copying. This is disadvantageous mainly because a competitor may offer the same or a similar product free of the watermark making watermarking unprofitable.
The second method of regulation is fingerprinting, which instead of being a preventative measure, relies on the rights holder to track down the object when it is used illegally.
Net Neutrality can be defined as the use of the internet without discrimination or biases (which includes filtering particular content/services, degrading connection speeds to particular websites). Currently, internet access is contriolled by the users, not their internet provider, but destroying net neutrality would be beneficial to the providers for a plethora of financial reasons. A potential incentive for internet providers (cable/telephone companies) to have control over the quality of certain websites would be to encourage, or even in some cases force customers to use a certain service (e.g. net provider having their own phone service, therefore it would be in their best interest to degrade the quality of other online phone services such as Skype, leaving the consumers with no other logical choice but to change services, and thus benefiting the internet provider). Altering connection speeds also opens opportunities for the providers to charge extra fees and taxes for improved service (e.g. improved access to particular content or services would be sold, instead of all services being accessed equally – e.g. in order to use an instant messenger with good quality, the customer would be required to pay an extra fee). This idea of companies charging for improved access within an (already paid for) network connection, is commonly called “Double Dipping”. In conclusion, net providers are attempting to maximize profit at the expense of their customer’s unbiased internet access. By loosing net neutrality, internet users would result in online content being restricted and companies restricting free market competition, ensuring the richest services win, not necessarily those of the best quality. With giant corporations having complete control, customers will only have the ability to choose services and applications from a menu that is offered by each individual provider. If net neutrality is taken away, the websites that have deals with the most providers and have the most money will end up taking lead of the internet, instead of the natural cycle of the most popular websites becoming the icons of the net. All the current online icons (websites such as Facebook, Ebay and services such as Instant Messaging) all started small, and didn’t simply pay their way to the top. Basically, corporations would take control of the net and the only way to get and stay at the active would be to pay. A recently introduced bill “Internet Freedom Preservation Act 2008” is an attempt to preserve net neutrality, and if passed would help preserve the basic freedoms of the internet of which we take for granted.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Because of all of the new technology, especially the internet, people are less likely to have their own views. When people watch television shows, or read/watch things on the internet they are more likely to have this effect their thinking. The different forms of media, such as blogs, television shows, and web videos are good for showing opinions, however people may focus too much on this and not take a better interest into what their own personal views on things are.
Lawrence Lessig's video on free culture gave several examples of things that are spoofs off something else, or works that are based off of someone else's prior works. For example, Weird Al yankovic, who is known for doing his spoofs off of other artist's songs, almost got in trouble for doing a spoof off the song beautiful by James Blunt. Another way of looking at this is that the new ideas of today are harder to express because of the copyright laws. An important view of Lessig however is that "theres not a musical phrase, a scene from a movie, or an essay on a blog that does not borrow something from earlier work."
Almost all creative works have been built on past works, and everything now is inhibited because of the rules that they cant base their new ideas on past ones. Lessig also gives the example of how Steamboat Willie, by Disney was even based upon a previous work. This just goes to show that now it is so hard to fully express yourself because of all of the restrictions there are. Lessig perfectly sums it up by saying "this "massive expansion" in copyright's scope needs to be corrected, and corrected soon; copyright needs to recalibrated, rebalanced, reined in."
Monday, September 8, 2008
California Congressman Howard L Berman (who just so happens to represent Hollywood) promised legislation that will require ISPs to send warning letters to users who have accessed so-called pirated content. Now this idea presents several problems. Because no evidence is collected, there is no way for the ISP to tell if the material was accessed legally, or if it falls under fair use. The technology for this ISP policing is dangerous. The program would only work if everyone used only sequential, single-source, plain text data streams. This makes security precautions, such as encryption, impossible, making identity theft oh-so-simple. The sheer magnitude of "piracy" occurring on the net would far exceed any ISPs bandwith for warning emails, so ISPs would be forced to expand their capacity (which would be an unconstitutional unfunded mandate, striking the legislation down on a technicality). And let's think about it: if every "pirate" were booted from his or her's ISP, the ISP industry would be severely crippled, and possibly collapse.
But there are greater issues at hand, in my opinion. The internet is supposed to be a free, mostly unregulated medium in America, and this legislation is a step in the wrong direction if we want to keep it that way. The laws shouldn't be made to benefit a certain industry (which is a prominent, effective practitioner of quid-pro-quo). Laws are made to protect and benefit the common people. Whose responsibility should it be to monitor and control internet piracy? To punish so-called pirates would go against the fundamental American judicial principle of innocent until proven guilty. And to mandate that the innocent ISPs monitor the practice, with no monetary compensation, seems oligarchical and socialist in nature. The bottom line is that, due to the anonymity of the internet, it is almost impossible to gain enough evidence to convict an individual of piracy. This congressman does not have the well-being of the citizens at heart, instead, he has the money of interest groups such as the RIAA in his pocket.
But off of this ideological tangent, and back to the mashup blog part. The victims (ha) of piracy need to focus more on educating the public on the encyclopedia set of copyright laws before pushing drastic, impractical measures such as this piece of legislation, or, perhaps even consider adapting the archaic copyright laws to have a chance of functioning in the age of the internet. Record companies and Movie studios alike need to advance into the digital age. While analog media such as cds and dvds are always a good idea, digital technology is becoming more and more the norm. Independent record labels hardly even release analog cds anymore, they put up a digital copy for a reasonable, paid download. In the p2p era, 99 cents is simply a small fortune to pay for one single track, when the whole album can be obtained for free in minutes. Its time for an update, not a supression.
The difference between the two cultures is all about user participation. In the read write world users can create and recreate works. Whereas in the read-only world, users have limited creativity in what they can do. In the read only world it reflects the title where you can only read. Lessig believes that these new laws will hinder creativity. In a way he was right. As time went on society became more of a read only culture.
In the second story two chicken farmers observed planes flying over their fields. When the planes flew overhead their chickens would mimic the behavior and attempt to fly in formation right at the chicken house. The two chicken farmers felt that the planes were trespassing on their property. Because they owned the land, they believed they owned the sky above their land to a certain extent. When they went to court the judged ruled that they could not own the skies, because everyone who rode on planes would be facing lawsuits.
In his third story Lessig discusses broadcasting and their control over the airwaves. The company ASCAP was the first company to try to control the airwaves. They initially raised rates to broadcast, but later was taken to court. BMI, which were taking recreated works and releasing them to their subscribers for free, began to take many of the ASCAP subscribers. Finally ASCAP broke down
What Lessig is trying to sum up is the reemergence of the read write culture. With companies like Youtube and MySpace individuals are gaining more and more freedom of what they can post on the internet. They also are beginning to write for “the love of the work and not for money” Lessig states.
Lessig then goes into two examples of anime music videos (AMV). These videos show of Japanese animation with popular music in the background. What Lessig wanted to show was how these amateurs could take these animations and add other artists work to make a complete music video. This type of creativity has become popular epically in American culture. This is quite funny because you would think that these amv videos would be the most popular overseas. Another term for these videos is called mash-ups.
Lessig then attempts to close on the topic of re-creativity. He goes into how our society has been on a decline of creativity and how the new laws have been cracking down on creativity.
Chapter one kicks off with creators and how they create by use of other people's ideas. For example, the first cartoon with synchronized sound, Steamboat Willie was made by Walt Disney. Synchronizing sound with with animation was an idea that someone had already done with non cartoon movies Disney just copied that idea and applied it to his cartoon which wasn't unique either. Steamboat Willie was very similar to a non-sound cartoon released named Steamboat Bill Jr. Disney just made a close replica to that cartoon and added some music.
This kind of borrowing wasn't new nor was it considered "wrong" at the time. Most creators borrowed ideas of others and built upon them to create newer and better versions. Lessig calls this "borrowing" for creating "Disney Creativity". This type of creativity is argued to be the only creativity.
Back when Disney was creating, copyrights lasted 30 years before expiring and putting their content into the public domain, which was a "lawyer-free zone". So people were able to take material who's copyrights had expired and use them to build upon. But as time goes on copyright times are increasing and there is less and less material in the "lawyer-free zone".
The "Disney Creativity" was not just limited to Disney or even the U.S. Today this type of creativity is still widely practiced. For example, in Japan people are crazy about a type of comic book/graphic novel called a Manga. These comic books are widely produced and distributed around Japan. Then there is another kind of parody Manga called a doujinshi. These doujinshi are almost exact copies of their Manga counterparts with new things added onto them from their artists. Technically doujinshi are illegal given Japan's copyright laws, which are almost identical to the U.S.'s; but they are allowed to exist without penalty; one reason for this is because these doujinshi compete with Manga sales and encourage Manga artists to create more rich and compelling stories, so the doujinshi are a sort of healthy competition to the Manga's.
Lessig finishes with a definition of free culture and how our culture is slowly growing away from that idea.
"Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less. Ours was a free culture. It is becoming much less so."
Chapter two entitled "Mere Copyists" discusses concept of copying something and distribution of ideas related to the copies.
The first process for taking and producing photographs was arduous and expensive so only a few people where able to indulge in this field. This limiting factor is what pushed inventors to make the process simpler and cheaper so more people could use this new technology. Over the years the process became easier and easier until the first Kodak appeared for the general public to buy and use. The Kodak allowed the average joe to take pictures of his life and have them as a keep sake. The portable camera had created another way of expression, just like the pencil or paintbrush, people could take a picture by playing with the lighting and camera lens and it would be art.
Picture taking, as we know it, may have been very different had the camera been invented a little later. There were many cases that disputed whether a photographer needed permission to take a picture of a building, person, artwork, etc... The decisions of these cases went in favor of the photographer, thus no permission was needed to take pictures of buildings, people, art, etc... Later special case laws where made for certain cases, like with celebrities and paparazzi. Had the decision went in favor of the object being photographed then photography would be significantly different.
Lessig goes on to talk about "media literacy" and the importance that kids of future generations be literate in this field.
The was children should be taught to understand, make, and add to the media is to learn with practice, to create there own media.
The future generations becoming literate, in the sense of technology, is crucial to whether our culture develops into a "Read-Only" culture or a "Read-Write" culture. If future generations learn to understand and use the culture, but not reproduce and add onto it, then the culture will become a "Read-Only" culture. However if future generations do learn to understand and contribute then the culture will be "Read-Write".
Finally Lessig goes on to discuss blogs vs. main stream media.
The mainstream media will show a story for a time relative to its importance then that story is gone and may never be brought up to add upon or discuss. With blogs, however, a story will continue to grow and be discussed about indefinitely.
Blogs also allow people to argue more openly then they would in real life because blogs allow, to a certain degree, a sense of anonymity. So people may be more open about their opinions.
Finally blogs allow for a more diverse amount of topics and discussions. Small niches may be addressed in a blog that someone might never be able to find on the main stream media.
-Sony put this rootkit on music CDs that installed itself when put into a computer. The point of it was to prevent people from doing illegal things with the music files. And Sony asked the antivirus software companies to not allow the antivirus program to detect the root kit.
-Hotmail aloows you to block junk mail, but there's no way to stop junk mail from Microsoft.
-Internet explorer comes shipped with half of its popup blocking turned off, to allow for ads to pop up.
If left to grow, these programs will basically turn your computer against you. They will limit your computer and make it less reliable for you to use. You can fight back by only using software that respects your boundaries and boycott services that seem untrustworthy.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Category 3 Review on "THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PEER TO PEER PIRACY PREVENTION ACT: Why Copyright Owner Self-help Must Be Part Of The P2P Piracy Solution"
This article article detailed the components of the newly proposed "Peer to Peer Prevention Act", written by Howard Berman who happens to be one of the very congressmen to propose this bill in the House.
Peer to Peer (P2P) file-sharing networks (e.g.: Napster) treads on 2 rights of the copyright owner: 1) unauthorized duplication of his/her work, and 2) unauthorized distribution of his/her work. The P2P Prevention Act advocates leeway for copyright owners to impede the theft of their works through "reasonable, limited self-help".
Congressman Berman believes the most effective way to retard the never-ending P2P piracy is for copyright owners to "offer reasonably-priced, consumer-friendly ways to access legal content online", and for his proposed bill to be passed into law (surprise).
Most of the bill entails restrictions of the copyright owner in regards to what he/she may or may not do to prevent theft. Legality aside, I thought this was slightly unfair as copyright owners are being lectured about what they can and can't do to stop theft of their property, while pirates flick off countless regulations and laws to steal from copyright owners. If I were a Congressperson assigned to this issue, I would've proposed a bill structured on cracking down on pirates (if that were possible). Alas, I am not a Congressperson.. I digress.
Listed are some of the elements Congressman Berman proposed to keep the defense of copyright owners "reasonable" and "limited":
1) Copyright owners are not liable if and only if they are preventing the piracy of their property on a fileshare network. If, in the process of doing so, the copyright owner happens to crash a corporate network, he/she will be held liable.
2) Copyright owners may not send viruses or any other files to corrupt the data and files on the pirate's computer/network.
3) Copyright owners cannot remove files from the pirate's computer/network even if they are the pirated works (this one didn't make any sense to me at all).
4) Copyright owners are not protected by the P2P Prevention Act if he/she causes the economic loss of anyone besides the P2P network. This protects everyone else on the internet who may be effected by the copyright owner's "self-help".
5) Copyright owners may not cause serious harm to the pirate or the P2P pirate. (e.g.: Arson of the pirate's home in order to stop P2P file-sharing is not "reasonable").
6) Copyright owners must report to the Attorney General the technologies they plan to use to prevent piracy. This is so that no anti-piracy activity is conducted under the table.
Essentially, the P2P Prevention Act subjugates copyright owners to more liabilities than they have now. In addition to how limited copyright owners are in preventing piracy, pirates and P2P networks can even sue copyright owners under special circumstances. If Congressman Berman's proposed legislation is passed into law, copyright owners will have to fight piracy from inside a cage.
Like Communism, the Peer to Peer Prevention Act is good in theory, but most likely cannot be put to perfect practice.
According to Bruce Schneier, there are several aspects of the Windows Vista operating system that are undesirable for the users. Digital Rights Management (DRM) has been programmed into Vista to protect new media, such as HD-DVD and Blu-Ray technologies. Unfortunately, these DRM features don't do anything other than hinder the security and performance of the machine.
The software uses the processor to monitor the user to decide if the user is doing something the perhaps shouldn't be doing. "If it does, it limits functionality and in extreme cases restarts just the video subsystem." -Schneier
Much of today's media is protected and can only be used by certain hardware or software; iTunes, for example.
Schneier claims that Microsoft's reason for "intentionally crippling" their operating system is because they want to conrol the entire industry. However, Microsoft claims its because "Hollywood is demanding DRM in Windows" to make sure that people are still paying for new movies in their original format.
However: "Like every other DRM system ever invented, Microsoft's won't keep the professional pirates from making copies of whatever they want. The DRM security in Vista was broken the day it was released. Sure, Microsoft will patch it, but the patched system will get broken as well. It's an arms race, and the defenders can't possibly win." -Schneier
Schneier says that Microsoft is trying to pull what Apple did with music with entertainment in general, but on a much larger scale. Microsoft not only wants to control the industry on the internet, but also external individual hardware companies.
The driver developers are being forced to create drivers in accordance with certain rules and regulations set by Microsoft or their software will be useless.
The DRM negatively affects the users and their machines, even with "fair use" rights for purchased media. Users are essentially forced to live with DRM features interfering in everything, even actions with no involvement with copyright.
Consumers and the Hollywood industry are all starting to realize how DRM systems are bad for them. However, Microsoft is still trying to control the industry.
Schneier believes that if enough people "say no to Vista" then Microsoft will actually have to listen to the public.
**Everything in "" is quoted from Schneier's article**