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Software

MPAA Fires Back at AACS Decryption Utility 343

RulerOf writes "The AACS Decryption utility released this past December known as BackupHDDVD originally authored by Muslix64 of the Doom9 forums has received its first official DMCA Takedown Notice. It has been widely speculated that the utility itself was not an infringing piece of software due to the fact that it is merely "a textbook implementation of AACS," written with the help of documents publicly available at the AACS LA's website, and that the AACS Volume Unique Keys that the end user isn't supposed to have access to are in fact the infringing content, but it appears that such is not the case." From the thread "...you must input keys and then it will decrypt the encrypted content. If this is the case, than according to the language of the DMCA it does sound like it is infringing. Section 1201(a) says that it is an infringement to "circumvent a technological measure." The phrase, "circumvent a technological measure" is defined as "descramb(ling) a scrambled work or decrypt(ing) an encrypted work, ... without the authority of the copyright owner." If BackupHDDVD does in fact decrypt encrypted content than per the DMCA it needs a license to do that."
Patents

Patent Office Head Lays Out Reform Strategy 253

jeevesbond writes to tell us that Jon Dudas, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office has laid out a plan for patent reform. "Speaking at the Tech Policy Summit in San Jose, Dudas said that characterizing the patent system as hurting innovation is a 'fundamentally wrong' way to frame the debate. 'I have traveled around the world, and every nation is thinking how it can model [intellectual property governance] after the U.S,' Dudas said. 'It's a proven system, over 200 years old. The Supreme Court, Congress and policy makers are involved [in cases and legal reforms] not because the system is broken. It's not perfect, and we should be having the debate on how to improve.'"
Media

Submission + - Digital 'Fair Use' Bill Introduced In Congress

d3ac0n writes: "From the Washington Post: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/posttech/2007/02/di gital_fair_use_bill_introduc.html

Today, Reps. Rich Boucher (D-Va.) and John Dolittle (R-Calif.) introduced what they call the "Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship" (or FAIR USE) Act they say will make it easier for digital media consumers to use the content they buy.
A refreshing bipartisan effort to return Fair Use to it's rightful place as the law of the land. (for media content, anyway)"
Media

Submission + - RIAA Prepares to Sue 400 College Students

An anonymous reader writes: The RIAA sent out "pre-litigation settlement notices" to 400 network users at 13 U.S. universities today, continuing a PR blitz that began last week with a much-publicized list of the 25 most notified universities for copyright infringement. Once again, Ohio University tops the list, with one out of every eight notifications. From the press release: "The RIAA will request that universities forward those letters to the appropriate network user. Under this new approach, a student (or other network user) can settle the record company claims against him or her at a discounted rate before a lawsuit is ever filed."
Software

How Open is Open Source Really? 151

jg21 writes to tell us that several industry leaders have chimed in with a response to Nat Torkington's recent piece "Is 'Open Source' Now Completely Meaningless". In the original piece Torkington raised the question of whether the term "open source" had lost any meaning because of companies that use the label yet largly restrict user interaction. Sun's Simon Phpps chimed in by stating: "I see open source as a term relevant to the way communities function and I'd support the reunification of the terms 'Free' and 'open source' around the concept of Free software being developed in open source communities. On that basis it's not dead."
Microsoft

Submission + - Avaya turned down Microsoft partnership deal

Rob writes: CBRonline.com reports that Avaya claims it was offered a Unified Communications partnership by Microsoft ahead of Nortel, but refused to license its call control technology to the operating system giant. "They came to us to offer that deal and we turned them down, and now they're coming back to try again," said Karyn Mashima, senior VP of strategy and technology at the Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based vendor of enterprise telephony infrastructure. Mashima said a deal would have required licensing what constitutes Avaya's "crown jewels" to Microsoft, which Nortel, "struggling in the enterprise market", was prepared to do. "I guess it was something Nortel felt was worth giving up," she said.
Role Playing (Games)

Submission + - Wizards of the Coast has moved away from DRM!

sckeener writes: "Wizards of the Coast (D&D) has decided that the PDF market is viable and has switched from DRM to watermarking!

Per Monte Cook

This has been a long time coming, and is, pretty much hands down, the best thing that's happened to the pdf side of the market in a very, very long time. Particularly if one reads between the lines of the announcement and figures that WotC finally has some faith in the medium. Price, number of titles, etc... these are all just more steps that need to be taken, but I think it's pretty clear that this was the big step.
In addition to the 3.0 and 3.5 materials, WotC's ESD Materials (older versions of D&D, modules, etc) are still available."
Linux

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn Drawing Near 331

daria42 writes "Ubuntu developers are finalizing preparations for the release of the next version — dubbed Feisty Fawn — of the popular Linux distribution in mid-April. Overnight, Ubuntu developer Tollef Fog Heen announced Ubuntu's main software repository had been frozen — with no changes allowed to the code — as developers got ready to issue a fifth major test version ("Herd 5") of the next version of Ubuntu."
Censorship

Google Ads Are a Free Speech Issue 148

WebHostingGuy writes "A US Federal Court recently ruled that ads displayed by search engines are protected as free speech. In the case at issue, Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft were sued by an individual demanding under the 14th Amendment that the search engines display his advertisements concerning fraud in North Carolina. The Court flatly stated that the search engines were exercising their First Amendment right of free speech in deciding what ads they want to display."
Media

Submission + - Ars.Technica Examines BitTorrent Video Store

Rocketship Underpant writes: Ars Technica has given the new DRM-based BitTorrent video store a test drive. For those who may not know, the BitTorrent name is following in the footsteps of Napster, using its name to pursue non-free media distribution. But while Napster had nothing in common with its filesharing precursor, BitTorrent does use the bit-torrent protocol for distributing videos.

So does the new BitTorrent store work? "Store" may be an exaggeration; while it was (mostly) capable of taking the reviewer's money, none of the first few videos that were downloaded would play. Unsurprisingly, DRM is the source of the problem. Windows Media Player experienced numerous problems trying to read and authenticate the videos, even though it is the only supported player. In the reviewer's opinion, the service of the BitTorrent store is unacceptable. What's more, even files that work are rendered practically useless by the restrictive BitTorrent DRM, as the video cannot be burned to DVD or played on other devices.
Music

Submission + - Boycott the RIAA in March

Barrien writes: The guys over at Gizmodo have declared a boycott of the RIAA during the month of March. They are not advocating piracy, instead they suggest buying non-signed artist's music, or music that is available online. The full scoop can be found on their webpage, or here's a direct link to their plan. This is how we make our stand against the monster that is the RIAA.
Censorship

Submission + - ICANN to Become Internet's "Word Police"

Amanda B. Reckonwith writes: "ICANN to Become Internet's "Word Police" Top-Level Domain Policy to Bypass National Sovereignty and Free Speech Civil Society Proposes Amendment to Protect Civil Liberties and Innovation ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) submitted a proposal to protect freedom of expression and innovation in the introduction of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). ICANN's policy council, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), is currently developing policy recommendations to regulate the introduction of new top-level domain names on the Internet. NCUC is troubled by the GNSO's draft recommendation to create string selection criteria that would prevent the registration of a new gTLD string that contains a controversial word or idea. In the 13 February 2007 GNSO draft report, proposed Term of Reference 2(v) of the string criteria states that "the string should not be contrary to public policy (as set out in advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee)". According to the GAC guidelines: "No new gTLD string shall promote hatred, racism, discrimination of any sort, criminal activity, or any abuse of specific religions or cultures. ... If the GAC or individual GAC members express formal concerns about a specific new gTLD application, ICANN should defer from proceeding with the said application until GAC concerns have been addressed to the GAC's or the respective government's satisfaction." Unless reformed, this ICANN policy will prevent anyone in the world from being able to use controversial words like "abortion" or "gay" in a new gTLD if a single country objects to their use. The proposal would further prevent the use of numerous ordinary words like "herb" and "john" in a string since they can have an illegal connotation in certain contexts. In addition to any country in the world being able to stop a new gTLD string, ICANN staff would also be able to prevent any idea that it deemed too controversial to exist in the new domain space. The 13 Feb. proposal (Term of Reference 2(x)) gives ICANN staff the important job of making preliminary determinations as to whether a string is inappropriate and who the "legitimate sponsor" of a domain name (such as .god) should be. "The 13 Feb proposal would essentially make ICANN the arbiter of public policy and morality in the new gTLD space, a frightening prospect for anyone who cares about democracy and free expression," said Robin Gross, Executive Director of IP Justice, an NCUC member organization. "The proposal would give ICANN enormous power to regulate the use of language on the Internet and lead to massive censorship of controversial ideas." NCUC proposes to amend the GNSO draft policy so that only the legal restrictions in the national jurisdictions of the string application in question will apply to the particular string. Under NCUC's proposal, national law would be the measure for what words are permitted to be registered in any particular nation, not ICANN policy. NCUC's proposal recognizes the reality that there are competing standards of morality and competing public policy objectives and that ICANN should not try to set a universal standard. NCUC's amendment better protects freedom of expression, since only those words and ideas that are actually outlawed in a particular nation could not be registered in that nation. Instead of engaging in censorship in the new domain space, ICANN policy should respect international freedom of expression guarantees. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." ICANN should adhere to the principles of Article 19 and permit the registration of lawful, but controversial strings in the new gTLD space. Besides free expression, NCUC's proposal also protects national sovereignty, and the right of nations, not ICANN, to decide what words may be used in their jurisdictions. The current draft report would usurp the right of an individual nation to permit the use of words in its own country that are controversial in other countries. Rather than blanketly applying 240 nations' cumulative restrictions on speech onto every country, NCUC's proposal is more narrowly tailored to limit only those words that are actually illegal where registered. Milton Mueller, Professor at Syracuse University School of Information Studies and NCUC Executive Committee member said, "There has always been a danger that ICANN's exclusive control of Internet identifiers would be used as leverage to enforce extraneous policies. ICANN needs to stick to its narrow, technical coordination role, We need to protect the Internet from globalized, centralized regulation." The current GNSO proposal is further flawed because it is framed from an irrelevant 1883 treaty on trademarks that is inappropriate, both because of its archaic origin and because trademark law is intrinsically a narrow legal paradigm that does not extend to a full vision of societal benefits and rights. Most notably, trademark law is not designed to regulate non-commercial speech, which is vast majority of online communication. NCUC's proposal to amend Term of Reference 2 (v) is the main proposal in a group of 5 NCUC proposals to reform the policy recommendations in the 13 Feb. GNSO draft report. It is possible that ICANN's GNSO Policy Council will vote on draft final report as soon as the next ICANN board meeting in Lisbon in late March 2007. NCUC urges individuals and organizations that are concerned with protecting free expression and innovation to contact ICANN Board Members and their national representative of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) to express their concerns about the current draft and support for NCUC's amendments. If you live in the United States, your representative on the GAC is Suzanne Sene from the US Commerce Department. Suzanne Sene can be contacted via email to SSene[at]ntia.doc.gov The ICANN GAC representatives from other countries are listed here: http://gac.icann.org/web/contact/reps/index.shtml The ICANN Board of Directors is listed here: http://www.icann.org/general/board.html Links to relevant documents: GNSO Draft Final Report on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains: http://gnso.icann.org/drafts/GNSO-PDP-Dec05-FR13-F EB07.htm NCUC proposal (Feb. 2007) to amend the draft report: http://www.ipjustice.org/ICANN/drafts/022207.html NCUC Comments on Fall 2006 Draft Report http://www.ipjustice.org/ICANN/NCUC_Comments_on_Ne w_gTLDs.pdf Internet Governance Project Alert: "Will the UN Take Over the Internet" Through ICANN? http://internetgovernance.org/news.html#UNTakeOver InternetThroughIcann_022207 GNSO Council Webpage on Intro of New gTLD Policy: http://gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/ About the NCUC: The Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the part of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that represents the interests of noncommercial Internet users. NCUC is a voting member of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), which develops policy and advises the ICANN Board on matters regarding generic top-level domains on the Internet. NCUC develops and supports Internet policies that favor noncommercial use on the Internet. The NCUC is made up of 40 civil society organizations from around the world and maintains a website at http://www.ncdnhc.org/ ."

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