The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'eff'
An apposite piece of commentary from the EFF's April Fool's Day newsletter:
Google's Good and Evil Divisions Reportedly in Talks Over Precious
Industry sources say that representatives of Google's executive board are deep in negotiations with an internal "skunkworks" start-up originally dedicated to researching online marketing opportunities, but which has since expanded to cover the entirety of evil services. The morally errant division, nicknamed Googollum, is understood to be arguing internally that the Internets stole the precious social networking, they did, and gave it to the Facebooks, and must be punished. While some at the company have suggested that it mustn't steal the Internets' privacies, other Googollum workers, who asked not to be identified, have said that no-one would notice, and anyways, what has the nasty Internetsies done for Google lately? Talks are ongoing, although setbacks did occur when Googollum's management, speaking at the company's Friday meeting, refused to tell anyone where the Google Plus development team was hidden, and went on to eat the Google Reader product manager raw.
John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, claims that the internet has broken the US political system, with the deluge of information rendering the country "ungovernably information-rich":
Barlow also said that President Barack Obama's election, driven largely by small donations, has fundamentally changed American politics. He said a similar bottom-up structure is needed for governing as well. "It's not the second coming, everything won't get better overnight, but that made it possible to see a future where it wasn’t simply a matter of money to define who won these things," Barlow said. "The government could finally start belonging to people eventually."That's one perspective; another one is that the true stakeholders are not the plebeians who vote but the corporations who buy government bonds, and that, to keep an economy stable, the levers of power have to be moved well out of reach of the ignorant rabble and those who would pander to them; i.e., that governments' hands have to be tied by international treaties on anything that might affect the bottom line, reserving democracy for largely symbolic issues. Of course, with the people empowered from the edges by new tools, and the stakeholders pushing to seize more power, things could end up getting ugly.
In the US, mobile phone carriers have a lot more power over consumers than in Europe or Australia. There phones are only obtainable from carriers, are locked to one carrier and often have features disabled to drive profits to the carrier, resulting in Americans paying more for less than their fellow mobile phone users abroad. (It's the classic "turd-in-a-can" ideal of predatory consumer capitalism; first, make sure you have a captive audience, and then you can sell them any old crap at the price of your choice, safe in the knowledge that they have nowhere else to go.)
Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is turning its attention to this issue, in particular to the practice of locking phones down and the use of copyright laws to enforce this; to this aim, it has launched the Free Your Phone campaign, and is asking US residents to sign an online petition. It's probably about time.
Another triumph for the EFF: this time, they have successfully had Clear Channel/Live Nation's patent on instant CDs of live performances invalidated, allowing independent artists and concert promoters to sell CDs of their gigs without doing this on Live Nation's terms.
Arising from the question of "why doesn't the UK have an EFF?", there is now a proposal to create a British digital-rights campaign group. This has taken the form of a PledgeBank pledge for people to sign, pledging to set up a standing order for £5 a month to fund such a body. The target is to have 1,000 people sign the pledge; so far, 493 have signed it.
The MPAA show their bizarre, fundamentalist views on intellectual property yet again, this time by sending legal nastygrams to websites using the MPAA's ratings code; i.e., if you claim that your website, photo gallery, Harry Potter fan-fiction story or whatever is G (or PG or R or whatever)-rated, you can expect a cease-and-desist notice in the mail:
"We have a right to go after people who use our trademarks without permission, big or small, whenever we find out about them," said John Feehery, executive vice president for the association. "Our ratings are not supposed to be ripped off."
Wendy Seltzer, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that the association would have a point only if the fiction sites had claimed that association reviewers had rated the works. Using the ratings as a rough comparison is not a trademark infringement, she said: "It's like saying a beverage tastes like Coke."
I'm hoping that this does go to court and the MPAA get a good caning, which, if anything resembling common sense prevails, they should.
Meanwhile, if you're content with the G, PG and R ratings, you can always claim that you're using the Australian ones and not the U.S. ones; the Australian Office of Film and Literature Censorship may be Bowdlerites, but they're probably not Galambosians.