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Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 200

by Sycraft-fu (#47573039) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Yep, when it gets cheap enough people say "I wants," and that is all the more thought it takes. They may never get around to playing it, doesn't matter, they wanted to have it and now they do and they got a "good deal" on it so they are happy.

I do that ALL the time. I have more games than I can play. Not only that, I'm one of those who's very happy to replay old favourites. I really should buy new games pretty sparingly. However, when they are cheap, I buy them just to have them. As such a have a big list of games kicking around, particularly indy titles that tend to be cheaper.

Comment: Re:Update cycles (Score 1) 131

by Kjella (#47572613) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

I'd call a motherboard replacement for all essential purposes a new build. You need to fasten it to the case and all those annoying little case cables (power/reset/LEDs etc.), add CPU, RAM, power cables, all extension cards, hard drives cables and so on again so you're pretty much doing all the work just in the same case with the same parts. The rest I'd call upgrades.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 290

No, the car doesn't count.

Let's look at a bit more of the relevant language in the statute:

A âoedigital audio recording deviceâ is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use

It's what the primary purpose of the digital recording function is (or is marketed as) that matters. We disregard the car and the rest of the machine altogether.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 290

I think you really need to go back and read up on Copyright Law (17 USC). The license is implied in Copyright Law.

No, there's no license, particularly no license 'implied in the law,' whatever that means.

You have an inherent free speech right to do anything with a work that you like, except for things that copyright gives an exclusive right to the copyright holder about. A copyright holder can only possibly grant a license for something that he holds a right to; he cannot give you permission to do something you don't need his permission for. And once the copyright on the work expires (no, seriously), you're no longer limited as to the exclusive rights either.

So for example, there is an exclusive right to publicly perform music, but not an exclusive right to privately perform music. Even if you have a stolen CD that was itself made illegally, you can lawfully privately perform it without infringing on copyright. No license or anything.

All this licensing bullshit basically is a side effect of stupid (and largely unnecessary) practices in the software industry. It's mostly folk myths. If there's a license, you'll usually know it: it will almost certainly be pages and pages long, written, and you'll have to expressly agree in some way. Record companies would not sell CDs with some sort of implied license.

No, the CD is the work, it is not the derivative.

Depends. Assuming you just mean an album, and not the piece of plastic, it'll either be a work or a compilation.

You do have a right to transform it.

No, that's preparation of a derivative work, probably; an exclusive right at 17 USC 106(2), and doing it is infringing at 17 USC 501(a). You'll need an exception to copyright, or for the work not to be copyrighted, or a license, in order to just make the derivative, never mind distributing it. And if it's not a derivative work after all (see the definition at 17 USC 101), it's likely an infringement of the reproduction right at 17 USC 106(1).

By definition, Fair Use is not an infringement.

Correct. Though as a practical matter, it's treated like an affirmative defense... it just makes more sense to do it that way, even though it is indeed an exception to copyright.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 290

As long as you don't distribute it, its totally legal. No doubt about it.

No, it's only legal under the right circumstances. Fair use is entirely a case-by-case thing. Just because it could be a fair use sometimes doesn't mean that it will be every time. And vice versa, under the right circumstances, any sort of infringement might be a fair use.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend relying entirely on it if a better option were available.

Comment: Re:I had to look up the AARC (Score 1) 290

The AHRA means it is _legal_ to buy a blank audio CDR, copy a CD onto it (or make a mix CD), and give it to your friend.

No.

First, it doesn't make it legal, it makes it non-actionable; there's a difference. (I am reliably told that it was supposed to be legal, but it got changed at the last minute in a suspicious manner)

Second, it doesn't say you can give the AHRA-compliant copies away. Just that they can be noncommercially 'used.'

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 1) 290

Even before CDs were invented it was legal to make your own copy for your own use of copyrighted material you owned

Actually, it was never quite clear. It's since been expressly made non-infringing (not technically the same thing as legal; they're very sneaky) in some situations, but not any that are relevant to most people. There's also a fair use argument, but that's not the best thing in the world to rely on; fair use depends on the specific circumstances at hand, and doesn't always produce consistent results.

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 1) 290

This seems to be clearly format shifting for personal use which should be entirely legal.

Should be, but that's not actually what the case is about. This is about making & selling a limited purpose device with a digital music ripping function. Such devices are required to have certain limits, and the people who make, import, or distribute them, have to pay certain royalties. And it looks as though neither requirement has been complied with here.

People don't ordinarily run into this, since computers are general purpose devices which also happen to be able to rip, and are therefore exempt.

Comment: I think that this is actually illegal (Score 1) 290

I don't think that it should be, but let's take a look at the actual law, since 'should be' doesn't provide much practical help.

What we're looking at is the Audio Home Recording Act, or AHRA, which is Chapter 10 of the Copyright Act, and can be found at 17 USC 1001 et seq.

17 USC 1002:

No person shall import, manufacture, or distribute any digital audio recording device or digital audio interface device that does not conform to-- (1) the Serial Copy Management System; (2) a system that has the same functional characteristics as the Serial Copy Management System and requires that copyright and generation status information be accurately sent, received, and acted upon between devices using the system's method of serial copying regulation and devices using the Serial Copy Management System; or (3) any other system certified by the Secretary of Commerce as prohibiting unauthorized serial copying.

17 USC 1004:

(a) Prohibition on Importation and Manufacture.-- No person shall import into and distribute, or manufacture and distribute, any digital audio recording device or digital audio recording medium unless such person records the notice specified by this section and subsequently deposits the statements of account and applicable royalty payments for such device or medium specified in section 1004.

So the question is, is this feature in the car a "digital audio recording device," "digital audio interface device," or "digital audio recording medium"? As always, if a term is specially defined in the statute, that meaning controls, as opposed to the ordinary meaning. Definitions are provided at section 1001. They're a bit complicated, and we'll have to work through several layers here.

Let's start with a digital audio recording device.

Per 17 USC 1001, a "digital audio recording device" is:

A "digital audio recording device" is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use, except for-- (A) professional model products, and (B) dictation machines, answering machines, and other audio recording equipment that is designed and marketed primarily for the creation of sound recordings resulting from the fixation of nonmusical sounds.

This refers to another definition:

A "digital audio copied recording" is a reproduction in a digital recording format of a digital musical recording, whether that reproduction is made directly from another digital musical recording or indirectly from a transmission.

And that refers to yet another definition:

(A) A "digital musical recording" is a material object-- (i) in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds, and material, statements, or instructions incidental to those fixed sounds, if any, and
(ii) from which the sounds and material can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

(B) A "digital musical recording" does not include a material object-- (i) in which the fixed sounds consist entirely of spoken word recordings, or (ii) in which one or more computer programs are fixed, except that a digital musical recording may contain statements or instructions constituting the fixed sounds and incidental material, and statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in order to bring about the perception, reproduction, or communication of the fixed sounds and incidental material.

(C) For purposes of this paragraph-- (i) a "spoken word recording" is a sound recording in which are fixed only a series of spoken words, except that the spoken words may be accompanied by incidental musical or other sounds, and (ii) the term "incidental" means related to and relatively minor by comparison.

Also,

A âoeprofessional model productâ is an audio recording device that is designed, manufactured, marketed, and intended for use by recording professionals in the ordinary course of a lawful business, in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary of Commerce shall establish by regulation.

So --

The machine in the cars is a digital audio recording device, as that term is defined in the statute, if:

1) It is commonly distributed to individuals, for use by individuals

I think that's true here

2) It doesn't matter whether or not it is included with, or part of some other machine or device

So the fact that it's part of a car doesn't protect it

3) The digital recording function (i.e. the CD ripping; more on this in a minute) is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use.

Since this refers to only a specific function, and not to the whole device, or to the overall car (which was already excluded as being the other machine or device that this device is part of), I think it probably applies. The feature is designed to make copies, and the CD ripping feature is marketed for the purpose of making copies.

4) There's an exception for professional model products. But those are defined as being designed, manufactured, marketed, AND intended for use by recording professionals. I don't think that this qualifies, and therefore the exception doesn't help us.

5) There's another exception for dictation machines, answering machines, and equipment that is designed and marketed for making recordings of non-musical sounds. Again, I don't think that this qualifies, and therefore the exception doesn't help us.

6) So, it now hinges on whether the digital recording function as discussed above, is designed and marketed for making digital audio copied recordings. That's a reproduction of a digital music recording, in a digital format. Well, whatever the music is being stored as (mp3, wav, flac, etc.) I think we can expect that it's a digital format. So are the CDs digital music recordings?

They're material objects -- like CDs -- in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds and incidental material, and from which the sounds can be perceived with the aid of a device.

So yes, CDs appear to qualify.

7) We've got a couple of last-ditch exceptions; if none of these apply, we're in trouble. Are the CDs only spoken word recordings? Well, some CDs are, but I doubt that the functionality or even the marketing only involved that. Do the CDs include computer programs beyond the 'incidental material' level discussed above? Likely not; we're basically looking at music CDs.

So that's it: Because the relevant function of the device makes digital copies of CDs, and is designed or marketed with that as the primary purpose, and is commonly sold to individuals, for use by individuals, notwithstanding the fact that it's part of a larger device and a car, the devices at issue are digital audio recording devices. And it's illegal to make, import, or distribute them unless you comply with certain copy protection schemes and pay royalties.

We can even leave the questions about a digital audio interface device (probably not), and digital audio recording medium (very probably not; it's almost certain to be a generic hard drive) as exercises for the reader.

But wait, you say -- didn't the RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia case say that this was allowed?

Well, no, actually; it didn't.

If you're unfamiliar with the Diamond Rio music player that was at issue in the case, just think of the older iPods that really only played music. The Rio had no ripping function; it could only copy mp3 files from an ordinary personal computer equipped with the correct software. The business of ripping CDs happened entirely on the personal computer side of things.

This meant that the Rio had no ability to directly (a requirement in the statute; look for it in the definition of a digital audio copied recording) make copies of a digital music recording, since the Rio copied files from the computer's hard disk, and a computer's hard disk doesn't qualify as a digital music recording. (It's not the physical medium that matters so much as that there's lots of stuff on the disk, such as computer software, beyond the merely incidental level)

This is what saved it -- the lack of a ripping feature. But the doohickey in the cars does have a ripping feature.

Further, the computers used to rip did not fall under the AHRA because they're general purpose computers, and their digital recording function was not their primary purpose. Even things like Apple's old 'Rip, Mix, Burn' ad campaign didn't make it the primary purpose.

Fair use is a fine argument, but it's functionally a defense against copyright infringement. The AHRA, despite being in the Copyright Act, is treated (like the DMCA) as something different. So fair use won't help here; the plaintiffs aren't alleging (AFAIK) infringement, but failure to comply with the AHRA.

The reason that fair use came up with the Rio was because the Rio didn't fall under the AHRA, and contributory copyright infringement was an alternate attempt to go after it, which also didn't work. The same argument as for the Rio would likely work just as well here -- if the plaintiffs were making a claim to which fair use applied. Too bad that they don't seem to be doing that.

Some people might also remember 17 USC 1008, the part of the AHRA that limits certain actions. Sadly, it's of no use. That section limits infringement actions, and this is not an infringement action. It's an action under the AHRA (sections 1009, 1002, and 1003 -- infringement is sections 501 and 106).

So as I said, I think that the plaintiffs here have a solid argument. There's a reason why mp3 players that did their own ripping were few and far between. The defendants here would've been wise to notice that, and to ask their lawyers to check to see if they could offer a ripping feature along with storage and playback, on a specific-purpose device.

I'd rather see the law changed to make this thoroughly legal without the stupid copy protection, restrictions, royalties, etc., but right now, it is what it is.

Comment: I like the idea in principle (Score 2) 37

by JanneM (#47571821) Attached to: Google, Linaro Develop Custom Android Edition For Project Ara

I like the idea in principle. I do think it's really useful to customize a few specific parts - one person might want a high-performance (and large, and expensive)) camera module both front anb back; another prefers just a minimal camera and gets a larger battery instead; a third has a job where cameras are banned and opts to get none at all. A fingerprint reader, a headphone jack, or an SD card slot are other options people may want to add or skip.

But I do not think upgradeable phones are meaningful. After 2-3 years with a phone, it's pretty beat up. Screen is scratched and dimming, the case is scuffed and creaky, buttons don't quite work, connectors are getting glitchy, the battery is dying and both CPU and memory are getting old. I'd want to upgrade all of it - I want a new phone, not throw money at the old one.

Comment: Re:Isn't this exempted? (Score 1) 290

by Alsee (#47570553) Attached to: Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

Nope, you misunderstand what the loophole was. It's utterly irrelevant whether or not it's easy to copy the music out.

You need to forget "plain English" and what "makes sense". We're dealing with the law and legalese. You need to think like a computer running into odd code. If a programmer writes "int Two=3;" then you'll get "Two+2=5". You need to obey the definition you're given, even if it clashes with what you think it should mean. You can't just assume Two+2 is supposed to be 4 when the code (or the law) says something different.

This law has a definitions section, and we are concerned with with three key pieces. I'll trim it to the critical bits.

A "digital musical recording" is a material object [...blah blah...]
A "digital musical recording" does not include a material object [...blah blah blah..] in which one or more computer programs are fixed

Therefore, according to the law, MP3 files on a computer hard drive are not "digital musical recordings".

A "digital audio copied recording" is a reproduction in a digital recording format of a digital musical recording [...blah blah...]

Therefore, according to the law, an MP3 player that copies an MP3 off of a computer is not creating a "digital audio copied recording".

A "digital audio recording device" is any machine or device [...blah blah...] making a digital audio copied recording

Therefore an MP3 player copying MP3's off a computer is not a "digital audio recording device".

The law only applies to "digital audio recording devices", therefore nothing in the law applies to MP3 players. Unfortunately this shitty law does seem to apply to a car audio system copying music off of CDs. Unless the judge gets "creative" in interpreting the law, it seems to me that car manufacturers are going to have to pay damages for every unit produced so far, are going to have to implement DRM on these car audio systems (preventing them from loading any song that's flagged as already being a copy), and are going to have to pay royalties to the RIAA for each future unit sold.

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Comment: Maybe the author needs to get out more (Score 5, Insightful) 200

by Sycraft-fu (#47570537) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

No dude, your books are not so incredible that people will buy them no matter what the price. There may be a few people who are like that, but most aren't. Price matters in entertainment. Turns out, when you make something cheap enough so that people don't need to think about spending the money and even more so they feel like they are getting a "Great deal" they'll spend very freely.

Steam has figured this out with videogames and siphons tons of money out of people's pockets, and has people thank them for doing it. People get drawn in by the "savings" of the sales and spend tons. I should know, I'm one of them. Not only do I have games I haven't played, I have games I haven't installed. I see something that I'm interested in that is a good price and I say "Oh man, I should get that," and I do. If they are more expensive, I think about it more, I wait until I really want a new game, I go and replay something I already enjoy.

Cheaper books will lead to bibliophiles just collecting the things. I know my mom would. You get them cheap enough and she'll drop hundreds a month on stuff she'll never read, just because she wants to have it.

Authors/publishers/developers/etc need to get over this idea of their digital goods being "worth" a certain amount. No, you need to figure out what you need to do to maximize your profits since there is zero per unit cost. Usually, that is going to mean selling cheap, but selling lots.

Comment: Re:Have they solved liability? (Score 1) 178

by Kjella (#47570085) Attached to: UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

Once we're stepping out of the realm of advanced cruise control and into active driving, it will clash even if they don't want to take responsibility. "I didn't expect my car to make the turn and fail to yield, you can't expect me to undo every mistake" "I saw it coming and could brake down, but my car didn't realize and speeded up and caused the accident" "I tried to hit the ditch and avoid those school kids but my car refused to go off the road, running them over."

And once you've seen the computer do a maneuver 99 times you'll assume it will the 100th too, even if it's got some kind of sensor glitch meaning that no it won't. It's one thing to see a situation in front of you and slam the brakes in a duel with the computer, but then you'd have to co-drive all the time. It's another thing entirely to see a situation in front of you, wait a few moments, realize oh shit the computer isn't going to do anything then hit the brakes.

And one thing that's important to remember is that accidents are generally not legally punishable, the driving must be negligent or reckless for that and being surprised and acting panicked is legal for a human driver. If the car is going the posted limit, obeying traffic regulations and hits the brakes it may meet the legal minimum even if there will be an accident and the result might be sub-optimal, unless we hold autonomous cars to a higher standard.

As the backup driver I'm certainly only human, my reaction could certainly be surprised and panicked. To roll that liability past the car and onto me there must have been some rather damn obvious reason why I had to intervene. It would have to be reckless or negligent of me to think the car can handle it better than me. If it ever got to court I'd argue that's just not true, in perfect hindsight maybe it was a poor split-second judgement but that's not a crime.

Or the TL;DR version: I doubt you'll ever be held legally liable for not taking over control, that you might or possibly should have yes but not that it was reckless or negligent not to. So in practice I think distracted driving will be legal, if not in theory.

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