The Null Device


A recent Fairfax weekend paper piece on the recording industry's crackdown on homemade mix CDs in Australia. People (mostly in the hip-hop scene) are being raided by the federal police (whose usual business is invstigating drug cartels and terrorists) and facing 5-year jail sentences and massive damages bills (not yet on the level of the US$180M damages awarded for planning to pirate satellite TV, though we'll probably get there soon enough) for distributing mix CDs of their DJ sets and/or bootleg remixes. The message is: if you break the law, the law will break you.

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More on Harry Potter as a tool of evil corporate hegemony: it's not just a pretext to stomp over parodists; the Harry Potter franchise is also a blunt instrument for gigantic chain bookstores to club small bookshops with. Though isn't the Wal-Mart-sized retailers being able to offer massive discounts on mass-market items just the natural way things happen? I suspect that the small bookshops won't so much go out of business because they can't sell Harry Potter for less than 150% the Borders price but rather will specialise in items the megachains don't see enough profit in stocking.

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The creators of Movable Type are given a roasting over their license agreement. Any "commercial" use of Movable Type requires a $150 license; and the creators have recently asserted that this includes anything other than playing around with it at home; i.e., if you install it for a friend, you're using it for "commercial" purposes. Collectivist parasites and second-handers beware; Ben and Mena (and their army of lawyers) are coming to get you! (via Gulfstream)

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AOL Time Warner's legal rottweilers are aggressively prosecuting Harry Potter-inspired books, from unauthorised fiction using the characters to thematically similar work like Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double-Bass. They have been allowed to do this by recent expansions of intellectual property treaties, which crack down on derived works. Or, another way to think about it: had the treaties been in place decades ago, J.R.R. Tolkien (or his publishers) would have been able to sue the entire fantasy fiction genre out of existence. A side-effect of the neo-Galambosian intellectual-property power-grab by the copyright industry could well be the end of new genres as such, and their replacement by licensed franchises (like the various Matrix tie-ins).

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Anti-porn Internet filtering system, installed in US libraries by government order, blocks all references to the city of Scunthorpe Toppenish. (Why? Look carefully at its name.) (via Techdirt)

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This is nifty: Random Movement Printing Technology. A printer the size of a mobile phone, which you can download images/data to, and then use it to print on any piece of paper (or other printable surface) by rubbing the printer over it. The printer tracks its movement and rotation and prints the appropriate parts of the image as it moves.

I'm now thinking that if someone were to fit these with indelible paint nozzles, they could use them as an urban graffiti tool, sort of like a more high-tech analogue of stencil art. The street finds its own uses for things and all that.

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Mozilla 1.4 is out. And they've finally fixed it so you can disappear the Print/Search buttons that clutter the interface. Though now it freezes when you change virtual desktops, or at random intervals. Time to get familiar with Konqueror, I think.

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