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Why the copyright wars matter

Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 18:56 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


But I don’t care if you want to attempt to stop people from copying your work over the internet, or if you plan on building a business around this idea. I mean, it sounds daft to me, but I’ve been surprised before.

But here’s what I do care about. I care if your plan involves using "digital rights management" technologies that prohibit people from opening up and improving their own property; if your plan requires that online services censor their user submissions; if your plan involves disconnecting whole families from the internet because they are accused of infringement; if your plan involves bulk surveillance of the internet to catch infringers, if your plan requires extraordinarily complex legislation to be shoved through parliament without democratic debate; if your plan prohibits me from keeping online videos of my personal life private because you won’t be able to catch infringers if you can’t spy on every video.

And this is the plan that the entertainment industries have pursued to in their doomed attempt to prevent copying. The US record industry has sued 40,000 people. The BBC has received Ofcom’s approval to use our mandatory licence fees to lock up its broadcasts with DRM so that we can’t tinker with or improve on our own TVs and recorders (and lest you think that this is no big deal, keep in mind that the entire web was created by amateurs tinkering with systems around them). What’s more Apple, Audible, Sony and others have stitched up several digital distribution channels with mandatory DRM requirements, so copyright holders don’t get to choose to make their works available on equitable terms.

In France, the HADOPI "three strikes" rule just went into effect; they’re sending out 10,000 legal threats a week now, and have promised 150,000 a week in short order. After three unsubstantiated accusations of infringement, your whole family is disconnected from the Internet -from work, education, civic engagement, distant relatives, health information, community. And of course, we’ll have the same regime here shortly, thanks to the Digital Economy Act, passed in a three-whip washup in the last days of parliament without any substantive debate, despite the thousands and thousands of Britons who asked their legislators to at least discuss this extraordinarily technical legislation before passing it into law.

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  1. When you think it cannot get worse, it gets even worser:

    To counter concerns against “innocent people can get their internet cut off, only because of unsubstantiated accusations of infringement”, the french authorities came up with a truly orwellian “solution”:

    The HADOPI authorities of France have plans to offer a software which everybody may install ‘voluntarily’ on his computer. This piece of software would log all internet traffic and send it to the HADOPI servers, where it would be stored for years.

    So when you think you are unjustly accused of copyright infringing, HADOPI can just look on all of your internet traffic, and prove your innocence… at least this is what they are promising you…

    [sarcasm] Of course, the data will not be used for anything else, and installation of this spyware is completely voluntarily. And everybody who refuses to install this spyware must have something to hide, doesn’t he? When someone is then cut from the internet, its all his fault, he could have installed this very helpful software from Hadopi, couldn’t he?[/sarcasm]

  2. Imagine a virtual machine running this software creating moderate amounts of safe traffic – google searches, facebook requests, stuff like that. Imagine running that software in a DMZ on your link so it cannot see your real traffic.

    Counting down until somebody puts out a live-CD with this in 4, 3, 2….

  3. An idea: so you think you have a virtual property (intellectual or otherwise) that is worth $x million per year? OK – you should pay a percentage of that declared “value” every year to the tax authorities of your jurisdiction. You cannot claim any copyright or other infringement unless you have declared this property ahead of time. You will only get money back when you actually earn something from that IP, in which case it may be used to offset other taxes on that income.

  4. You’ll have the MPAA and RIAA claim that this is just to protect the consumer and make piracy legal, so let’s make it about tax revenue instead and add one rule: if somebody else thinks your IP is worth more, he can buy it from you for your stated value (and pay a “sales” tax on that when buying it from you). That way you’ll prevent the studio’s from avoiding this property tax by claiming a low number and taking piracy for granted.

How it happened…

Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 15:13 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


My brother began to dictate in his best oratorical style, the one which has the tribes hanging on his words.

"In the beginning," he said, "exactly fifteen point two billion years ago, there was a big bang and the Universe–"

But I had stopped writing. "Fifteen billion years ago?" I said incredulously.

"Absolutely," he said. "I’m inspired."

"I don’t question your inspiration," I said. (I had better not. He’s three years younger than I am, but I don’t try questioning his inspiration. Neither does anyone else or there’s hell to pay.) "But are you going to tell the story of the Creation over a period of fifteen billion years?"

"I have to," said my brother. "That’s how long it took. I have it all in here," he tapped his forehead, "and it’s on the very highest authority."

By now I had put down my stylus. "Do you know the price of papyrus?" I said.

"What?" (He may be inspired but I frequently noticed that the inspiration didn’t include such sordid matters as the price of papyrus.)

I said, "Suppose you describe one million years of events to each roll of papyrus. That means you’ll have to fill fifteen thousand rolls. You’ll have to talk long enough to fill them and you know that you begin to stammer after a while. I’ll have to write enough to fill them and my fingers will fall off. And even if we can afford all that papyrus and you have the voice and I have thee strength, who’s going to copy it? We’ve got to have a guarantee of a hundred copies before we can publish and without that where will we get royalties from?"

My brother thought awhile. He said, "You think I ought to cut it down?"

"Way down," I said, "if you expect to reach the public."

"How about a hundred years?" he said.

"How about six days?" I said.

He said, horrified, "You can’t squeeze Creation into six days."

I said, "This is all the papyrus I have. What do you think?"

"Oh, well," he said, and began to dictate again, "In the beginning — Does it have to be six days, Aaron?"

I said, firmly, "Six days, Moses."

Isaac Asimov’s “How It Happened” (1979)

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  1. Reminds me of a recent article I read where the parting of the Red Sea could have happened, caused by freak weather conditions. Maybe Moses was a REALLY good meterologist? 🙂

  2. Oops – meterologist -> meteorologist

  3. Meterologist – one who studies rhythm in music, or cadences in poetry.
    Meteorologist – one who studies the weather.

The World’s First Artificial Heart

Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 15:10 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


This is the world’s first total artificial heart.

Surgeons Domingo Liotta and Denton Cooley placed it into Haskell Carp’s chest on April 4, 1969 in Houston. They removed it 64 hours later when a donor heart became available.

But the heart did what it was supposed to do, explained Judy Chelnick, an associate curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The patient did not live long, but not because the manmade heart malfunctioned. It worked just fine, laying the stage for many later variations.

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  1. Very interesting, did you know that that mechanical heart was also Dr. Michael DeBakey’s idea?
    Dr. Denton Cooley, and Domingo Liotta implanted the artificial heart when DeBakey was out of town, claiming for themselves the “glory” of being the first ones to use it.
    Upon DeBakey’s return, he was so mad that it caused a rupture between the two surgeons. Cooley and Debakey never spoke to each other again until months before DeBakey’s death.

  2. also interesting, a few days ago;

    Teen Boy First Child to Get Permanent Artificial Heart.
    The artificial heart, which was implanted during a 10-hour operation, is 1.6 inches wide and weighs 14 ounces, and physicians took special measures to reduce the risk of infection, the main cause of failure… Typically, artificial hearts are used on a temporary basis for individuals who are waiting for a suitable human transplant. In the case of the teenager, he has Duchenne syndrome (Duchenne muscular dystrophy), a muscle wasting disease that made him ineligible to be placed on a heart transplant waiting list…Most patients die by their early 30s…The permanently implanted artificial heart for this teen should provide him with another 20 to 25 years of “normal life,” according to hospital officials.



Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 10:22 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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  1. Another quote:

    “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”

    — Sir Richard Francis Burton, British explorer & orientalist (1821 – 1890)

    My comment: Anybody who waves crazy signs “GOD hates fags”, really says: “*I* hate fags”. Anybody who says “Obama is the Antichrist”, really means: “I disagree with Obama”. Thats the simple truth behind these weirdos. There is nothing more to it.

    Anybody talking of God just means himself, and nothing else.

  2. For the particular bunch in this picture, it’s different. That’s the Phelps family. And they’re headed for the Supreme Court.

  3. Personally, I think the Phelps family does more to discredit religion than anything I, or any other atheist, could possibly dream of. So, to that end, I say, “Keep talking, Fred. Keep talking…”

Bill Maher

Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 10:03 by John Sinteur in category: Quote


"Meg Whitman, our own candidate for governor of California, is running on a platform that’s as tough as nails on illegal immigration. We found out this week she had an illegal immigrant working in her house for nine years. Today Meg Whitman said she’s willing to take a lie detector test to prove that she didn’t know that she had an illegal alien cleaning her house. You know what, if we wanted a governor who swears they have no idea what’s happening in their house, we’d move to Alaska."

—Bill Maher

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  1. Politicians are such polished liars and so emotionless in truth, most of them could probably fool a lie detector, which are notoriously inaccurate. Friends of mine have passed such tests while telling bald-faced lies, so this is a fact that I am sure of. So, this pronouncement by Whitman is meaningless. Besides, as prosecutors are fond of saying, ignorance of the law is no defense. She was obligated by law to varify the legal status of her employees to work in the U.S.

Fear and Favor

Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 10:01 by John Sinteur in category: News


As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.


As the Republican political analyst David Frum put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox” — literally, in the case of all those non-Mitt-Romney presidential hopefuls. It was days later, by the way, that Mr. Frum was fired by the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives criticize Fox at their peril.

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State senators among arrests in gambling probe

Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 8:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Federal agents arrested VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, state Sen. Jim Preuitt and nine others in a vote-buying investigation related to April’s attempt to pass electronic bingo legislation.

A 39-count federal indictment was unsealed Monday charging McGregor, Country Crossing’s Ronald Gilley, four state senators, lobbyists and others of “a variety of criminal offenses, including conspiracy, federal program bribery, extortion, money laundering, honest services mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice and making a false statement,” according to the DOJ press release. DOJ attorneys said the 11 were indicted for their roles in “a wide-ranging conspiracy to influence and corrupt votes related to electronic bingo legislation.”

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Posted on October 5th, 2010 at 8:02 by John Sinteur in category: Google, Privacy

[From the same interview as the post below]:

When Bennet asked about the possibility of a Google “implant,” Schmidt invoked what the company calls the “creepy line.”

“Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it,” he said. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line.

At the same time, Schmidt envisions a future where we embrace a larger role for machines and technology. “With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches,” he said. “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

And that’s not creepy?

You should not expect regulations to stop Google from invading your life, you’ll have to take measures yourself, because, as the post below shows, “laws are written by lobbyists”..

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  1. Are you working on an open source search engine yet?