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Journal Journal: J.K.Rowling wins $6750, and pound of flesh 17

J.K. Rowling didn't make enough money on Harry Potter, so she had to make sure that the 'Harry Potter Lexicon' was shut down. After a trial in Manhattan in Warner Bros. v. RDR Books, she won, getting the judge to agree with her (and her friends at Warner Bros. Entertainment) that the 'Lexicon' did not qualify for fair use protection. In a 68-page decision (PDF) the judge concluded that the Lexicon did a little too much 'verbatim copying', competed with Ms. Rowling's planned encyclopedia, and might compete with her exploitation of songs and poems from the Harry Potter books, although she never made any such claim in presenting her evidence. The judge awarded her $6750, and granted her an injunction that would prevent the 'Lexicon' from seeing the light of day.
User Journal

Journal Journal: U. Mich. student calls for prosecution of Safenet

An anonymous University of Michigan student targeted by the RIAA as a 'John Doe', is asking for the RIAA's investigator, Safenet (formerly MediaSentry), to be prosecuted criminally for a pattern of felonies in Michigan. Known to Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth -- the agency regulating private investigators in that state -- only as 'Case Number 162983070', the student has pointed out that the law has been clear in Michigan for years that computer forensics activities of the type practiced by Safenet require an investigator's license. This follows the submissions by other 'John Does' establishing that Safenet's changing and inconsistent excuses fail to justify its conduct, and that Michigan's legislature and governor have backed the agency's position that an investigator's license was required.
User Journal

Journal Journal: ABA Judges Get an Earful about RIAA Litigations 5

Well, I was afforded the opportunity to write for a slightly different audience -- the judges who belong to the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. I was invited by the The Judges' Journal, their quarterly publication, to do a piece on the RIAA litigations for the ABA's Summer, 2008, 'Equal Access to Justice' issue. What I came up with was 'Large Recording Companies vs. The Defenseless : Some Common Sense Solutions to the Challenges of the RIAA Litigations', in which I describe the unfairness of these cases and make 15 suggestions as to how the courts could make it a more level playing field. I'm hoping the judges mod my article '+5 Insightful', but I'd settle for '+3 Informative'. For the actual article go here (PDF). (If anyone out there can send me a decent HTML version of it, I'll run that one up the flagpole as well.)
PlayStation (Games)

Journal Journal: The Trouble with PC Ports 1

I wrote a journal entry two years back. I had recently bought Oblivion and had spent 10 hours try to get it to simply run, and the post basically outlined how PC games require far too much effort from the user to simply run, let alone become playable. This post can be regarded as a followup.

I ended up liking Oblivion, so much so that I bought the Game of the Year edition for the PS3. The graphics were a lot better, and there were no control issues or installation worries. Then I ran into the, effectively show stopping, PS3 Vampire Cure Bug, after probably 50+ hours of play. Bethesda apparently have no intention of ever patching or fixing this bug. I can safely say that if I had know that this bug was present, I would never have bough the game.

As I see it, PC game makers like Bethesda, simply are not going to make it in the current generation of games. Show stopping bugs with no official efferot to patch them might be acceptable in PC gaming, but console gaming has historically had a much higher standard when it comes to major bugs and glitches. Even in the days of the PS2, if a game crashed, it was quite a shock, and a major black mark on your opinion of the game. Show stopping bugs with no workaround, are to my memory completely unheard of.

Say what you will, but up until effectively two years ago, the first version of your console game was going to be the last. Companies had no recourse whatsoever apart from a total recall if they needed to change so much as one bit in the game binary. Under those conditions, a very high level of quality was sought and in fact was achieved in the vast majority of cases. Console gamers have spent the last 20+ years playing games that largely did not crash, did not glitch(obtusely), and did not have show stopping bugs. PC gamers have spent the last 20+ years trying, and failing, to get games not to do any of these things.

My point is that console gamers have come to expect a certain level of quality and professionalism, and console game makers have responded accordingly. PC gamers have come to expect patches, hotfixes and workarounds, and PC game makers have become complacent when it comes to errors, and contemptuous towards their users. This does not bode well for "establishment" PC game makers trying to break into the console market. I believe they are, one by one, doomed to fail in this regard.

Unreal Tournament 3 crashes all over the place on PS3. Oblivion:GOTY has character which when spoken to display "I HAVE NO GREETING" default errors. Call of Duty 4's level and art design is aesthetically appalling. The best titles PC gaming has to offer typically end up a second or third rate titles when it comes to console gaming. A lot of this has to do with control schemes. RTS titles and games like the Sims are fundamentally unsuited to a console controller. But it also has to do with the overall quality of PC titles which when compared to console titles, simply don't meet the grade.

It works both ways. Titles among the best that console gaming has to offer typically do not fare well when ported to PCs. Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid 2, Halo. However, this is likely due to control and framerate issues, and with PC gamepads becoming more common(Xbox 360 pad plug and play in Windows), and graphics cards improving, these issues alleviated somewhat.

However, PC games makers have a much larger step to overcome if they want to break the console market. They need to overcome a culture of complacency. A culture that allows games to be released that will not work without a patch. The culture that allows a game to be shipped with known bugs still present. The culture that thinks graphics improvement means simply increasing texture rates and bloom and has no time for aesthetic design. The culture that essentially holds technical metrics in awe and game players in contempt. It is a culture driven in large part by the backing of PC hardware manufacturers and not the feedback of gamers.

I was looking forward to Fallout 3. But I will no longer be buying it when it arrives. I have been burned quite badly by Bethesda already, and I have no reason to believe that they will change their ways. It's a similar situation with many PC gamer companies. They are steeped in a culture that simply will not work in the console world. I expect many to simply stop releasing console ports in the years ahead, as it becomes clear that console gamers will not tolerate half finished or unsupported products.

There's something to be said for PC gaming. But professionalism among PC game makers is not it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: eBay beats Tiffany's in trademark case 2

Tiffany's has lost its bid to hold eBay liable for trademark infringement of Tiffany's brands taking place on eBay. After a lengthy bench trial (i.e. a trial where the judge, rather than the jury, decides the factual questions), Judge Richard J. Sullivan has issued a 66-page decision (PDF) carefully analyzing the facts and legal principles, ultimately concluding that 'it is the trademark owner's burden to police its mark, and companies like eBay cannot be held liable for trademark infringement based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their websites'.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Corsec67's crazy tax rewrite 1

This is my (quite crazy compared to what we have) tax rewrite for the US. It is inspired in part by Ron Paul.

My solution is to pass a constitutional amendment that prevents the federal government from collecting any fees, taxes, donations, or seized goods from any citizen. Also in that amendment would be a provision that income may not be taxed by any state, county, or other local government.

A sales tax is specifically allowed, as the primary method for states and governments to get money.

Revenue for the federal government would be provided by the state governments alone, with some specifications for how much each state pays, whether that is by population, a percentage of that state's revenue, or such. Aside from certain declarations of emergency by a state, federal monies would also not be allowed to benefit a state or other local government.

And that is the plan. It is very revolutionary, and quite different from what we have now.

Gone is the IRS, along with the huge accounting businesses that have sprung up to help people to interpret that crazy tax code. Also, the federal government would not be able to take money from people in a state and then hold that money hostage pending that state from passing certain kinds of laws (55 speed limit, 21 drinking age, 0.08% BAC to name a few).

The government has to get money somehow, and a sales tax by the state and other local governments is all that is left. This would mean that it doesn't matter where your income comes from, nor does the government at any level need to know. Nor do citizens that don't run a business have to even collect and remit to the government any taxes at all, since the current sales tax infrastructure would take care of that.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Dow Jones MarketWatch likens RIAA to the Mafia 11

According to commentator Therese Polletti at Dow Jones MarketWatch, "the RIAA's tactics are nearly as bad as the actions of mobsters, real or fictional. The analogy comes up easily and frequently in any discussion of the RIAA's maneuvers." Among other things she cites the extortionate nature of their 'settlement negotiations' pointed out by Prof. Bob Talbot of the University of San Francisco School of Law IP Law Clinic, whose student attorneys are helping private practitioners fight the RIAA, the illegality of the RIAA's use of unlicensed investigators, the flawed evidence it uses, and the fact that the RIAA thinks nothing of jeopardizing a student's college education in order to make their point, as support for the MAFIAA/Mafia analogy.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Class action complaint against RIAA available online 4

Recommended reading for all interested in the RIAA's litigation war against p2p file sharing is the amended class action complaint just filed in Oregon in Andersen v. Atlantic. This landmark 109-page document (pdf) tells both the general story of the RIAA's campaign against ordinary folks, and the specific story of its harassment of Tanya Andersen, and even of her young daughter. The complaint includes federal and state RICO claims, as well as other legal theories, and alleges that "The world's four major recording studios had devised an illegal enterprise intent on maintaining their virtually complete monopoly over the distribution of recorded music." The point has been made by one commentator that the RIAA won't be able to weasel its out of this one by simply withdrawing it; this one, they will have to answer for. If the relief requested in the complaint is granted, the RIAA's entire campaign will be shut down for good.
User Journal

Journal Journal: 1.3E6 to 1 Time Lapse

I have already talked about my long term time-lapse project, but now almost 6 months later, I have... 14 seconds of video.

I chose 22:00 UTC (4PM during "daylight saving[sic] time") for my latest video which is August 2007 through March 2008.

It took 217 days to make that video, and the output is 14 seconds at 15 fps. I think the effect is pretty cool, especially with the tiny tree "dancing" in the snow.

Here is what the camera that made that video looks like, and here is a high quality picture of what the camera can see

My other camera had problems in November, so it will be about 4 more months before I can get a useful picture from that camera.

Reflections on this project: the amount of light from day to day is very variable, with clouds and other atmospheric disturbances meaning that there is a "flicker" to the movie. But, without clouds there wouldn't be that cool snow to fall and melt. Spring might be really cool with the grass going green and then brown in summer. The 6mm f/1.8(fixed) lens isn't very good at this, I would like to stop down to about f/4 or so to prevent those blown highlights during the day. My other camera that is outside has major problems with freezing and changing the focus/focal length of the lens due to the thermal expansion of the housings. The Tamron 2.8-12 f/1.4 zoom that I originally had was horrible at this because it is a varifocal design, but the Pentax 12mm f/1.2 is a bit better.

Because of this project I know quite a bit about wifi and making it stable, as trying to send data over a failing wifi link does bad things. Directional antennas, power adjustments, using Tomato on my routers, singal losses over cables, and ping all are useful in keeping the packets going smoothly.

User Journal

Journal Journal: EFF travels to Arizona to argue Howell case

Although based in San Francisco, and only an amicus curiae in the Phoenix, Arizona, case of Atlantic v. Howell, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is sending its senior intellectual property lawyer Fred Von Lohmann to Phoenix to argue the Howell case, on behalf of the defendant, who is not represented by counsel. Due to the RIAA's attempt to take advantage of Mr. Howell's being undefended to try to convince the judge that merely 'making files available for distribution' -- i.e., just having them on one's computer in a manner that is accessible to sharing -- and that copying files from one's cd onto one's computer in mp3 format is itself "unlawful", EFF filed an amicus brief in January. Now it's taking the unusual step of actually sending someone to the courthouse to orally argue the motion.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Should RIAA's investigator have to disclose backup? 12

A technology battle is raging in UMG v. Lindor in Brooklyn over whether the RIAA's investigator, SafeNet (formerly known as MediaSentry), which has produced certain *txt printouts, now needs to disclose its digital files, validation methodology, testing procedures, failure rates, software manuals, protocols, packet logs, source code, and other materials, so that the validity of its methods can be evaluated by the other side. SafeNet and the RIAA say no, the information is "proprietary and confidential". Ms. Lindor says yes, if you're going to testify in federal court the other side has a right to test your evidence. A list of what is being sought is here (pdf). MediaSentry has produced 'none of the above'. "Put up or shut up" says one commentator to MediaSentry. What do you say?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Connecticut Judge rejects RIAA 'making available' theory 3

A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the RIAA's "making available" theory, which is the basis of all of the RIAA's peer to peer file sharing cases. In Atlantic v. Brennan, in a 9-page opinion (pdf), Judge Janet Bond Arterton held that the RIAA needs to prove "actual distribution of copies", and cannot rely -- as it was permitted to do in Capitol v. Thomas -- upon the mere fact that there are song files on the defendant's computer and that they were "available". This is the same issue that has been the subject of extensive briefing in two contested cases in New York, Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin. Judge Arterton also held that the defendant had other possible defenses, such as the unconstitutionality of the RIAA's damages theory and possible copyright misuse flowing from the record companies' anticompetitive behavior.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Ubuntu Rocks 1

I have a HP dv2000t that I got for running Linux. I made sure all of the hardware was supported in Linux easily, with the Intel wifi card, Intel integrated graphics, etc...

I originally installed Gentoo, and after the 3 days of compiling my system, it worked fairly well. Getting wifi and the 1280x800 screen to work took a bit of configuration, but no big problems.

One year later, I accidentally upgraded libexpat while trying to compile Wine, and promptly broke almost everything that was installed.

I tried to fix it, and then decided to install Ubuntu. Aside from some problems burning the CDs, it booted up quickly and recognized everything I needed, including the screen resolution, wifi, the trackpad and scrolling zone, etc... Plus, no need to spend a week compiling everything and then configuring and installing the kernel.

One thing I always do when I set up a Linux box is to make /home a separate partition, so that I can easily swap out the operating system when it gets really messed up.

Gentoo is good if your goal is to learn Linux, Ubuntu is good if your goal is to use Linux.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pure electric voting is as reliable as the space it occupies

One thing I expected around the 2004 election was a virus/worm that randomly changed the values in Access databases. Don't change the schema, don't delete rows, just change the values that was in there. Not changing the schema and not deleting stuff would make it relatively unnoticeable for as long as possible.

If it used a 0-day exploit, and had a way to get through NATs (piggy back on a website request or something), then you couldn't trust any tallies or votes done on anything that touched the internet.

Imagine the havoc that would ensue if it was found out the next day that any elections that were voted on using electronic voting machines were void, and had to be done again? that would make 2000 seem like a small problem.

Too many people think "the computer said X, and computers can't lie" forget that computers get most of their information from humans, and if a human says they don't lie, they are lying.

User Journal

Journal Journal: U. of Maine legal clinic fights RIAA; first in country

"A student law clinic is about to cause a revolution" says p2pnet. For the first time in the history of the RIAA's ex parte litigation campaign against college students, a university law school's legal aid clinic has taken up the fight against the RIAA in defense of the university's college students. Student attorneys at the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, under the supervision of law school prof Deirdre M. Smith, have moved to dismiss the RIAA's complaint in a Portland, Maine, case, Arista v. Does 1-27, on behalf of 2 University of Maine undergrads. Their recently filed reply brief (pdf) points to the US Supreme Court decision in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, and the subsequent California decision following Twombly, Interscope v. Rodriguez, which dismissed the RIAA's "making available" complaint as mere "conclusory", "boilerplate" "speculation". The 2 students represented by Cumberland join the 8 students represented by a prominent Portland law firm, bringing to 10 the number of University of Maine students fighting back in this case.

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