The Null Device
In the US, the copyright industry is pushing for a law requiring anything capable of digitising video signals to respond to hidden embedded signals, originally designed for Voltron toys in the 1980s, and to refuse to digitise the content if it is marked as copyrighted.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the same technology is being embedded into plastic dolls of a cricketer, given away with bottles of Victoria Bitter; the signals they respond to will be embedded in broadcasts of the cricket:
Booney dolls went live on Friday the 13th of January with the first match of the VB One Day series, and internet blogs and discussion sites have been debating since then what makes them tick. Booney is activated an hour before each one-day match by an internal timer set to eastern standard time (a glitch for those viewing matches televised on delay in Perth). His first words are "get me a VB, the cricket is about to start", a cross-marketing plug for VB and the cricket that sets the stage for his main performance during the game.
Booney's timer chip is programmed to trigger random comments while the match is in progress, and to announce a codeword for that day's Boonanza competition, in which viewers can win cricket memorabilia prizes (separately, those buying slabs have the chance to win three "Boonanza Utes" and 90 flat-screen TVs).
The major innovation is that Booney's chip responds to four audible triggers broadcast by Nine during matches, to generate targeted comments about bowling, batting, general play and VB advertisements.
Booney's vocabulary ranges from the inane ("Got any nachos? I love nachos") to ones that boost the two key products — the cricket ("He's seeing them like watermelons") and the beer ("Got a beer yet?").
It looks like the next version of Microsoft's Windows OS will require all device drivers and kernel-level code to be digitally signed. This is ostensibly to prevent kernel-level rootkits from installing themselves, though has the bonus feature of adding a ring of steel to the black iron prison the RIAA/MPAA want to build around everything handling their precious intellectual property. Oh, and it will also restrict device-driver development on Windows to those with the resources to pony up for the Verizon digital signature.
(via bOING bOING)
Canadian independent record label Nettwerk is getting involved in the RIAA anti-filesharing lawsuits — on the side of the consumers. Nettwerk has agreed to fund the defendants' case against the RIAA, and any fines should they lose, after a family was sued for having 600 music files on a home computer; one of these was a song by Avril Lavigne, who is managed by Nettwerk.
Nettwerk became involved in the battle against the RIAA after 15-year-old Elisa Greubel contacted MC Lars, also a Nettwerk management client, to say that she identified with "Download This Song," a track from the artist's latest release. In an e-mail to the artist's web-site, she wrote, "My family is one of many seemingly randomly chosen families to be sued by the RIAA. No fun. You can't fight them, trying could possibly cost us millions. The line 'they sue little kids downloading hit songs,' basically sums a lot of the whole thing up. I'm not saying it is right to download but the whole lawsuit business is a tad bit outrageous."
"Since 2003 the RIAA has continually misused the court and legal system, engaging in misguided litigation tactics for the purpose of extorting settlement amounts from everyday people -- parents, students, doctors, and general consumers of music," Mudd stated. "In doing so, the RIAA has misapplied existing copyright law and improperly employed its protections not as a shield, but as a sword. Many of the individuals targeted by the RIAA are not the 'thieves' the RIAA has made them out to be. Moreover, individual defendants typically do not have the resources to mount a full-fledged defensive campaign to demonstrate the injustice of the RIAA's actions. Today we are fortunate that principled artists and a management company, Nettwerk Music Group, have joined the effort to deter the RIAA from aggressive tactics -- tactics that have failed to accomplish even the RIAA's goals."
"Litigation is not 'artist development.' Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love," insists McBride. "The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests."
(via bOING bOING)
A handy FAQ on the US president's powers to override the law in the event of terrorist peril:
Q. Things sure have changed since the innocent days of mutually assured destruction! But is it legal for the president to ignore the law?
A. Maybe not according to plain ol stupid ol regular law, but we're at war! You don't go to war with regular laws, which are made outta red tape and bureaucracy and Neville Chamberlain. You go to war with great big strapping War Laws made outta tanks and cold hard steel and the American Fightin Man and WAR, KABOOOOOOM!
Q. Is the president above the law?
A. Nobody's above the law! As commander-in-chief the president just outranks the law.
(via bOING bOING)