Ltlw0lf's Favorite Techdirt Posts of the Week
from the huffing-and-puffing dept
This week’s posts ran the gamut from the evils of DMCA/ACTA/TPP, to computer
security issues, to the government’s effort to pass draconian treaties which are
most likely binding even when the government says they aren’t, to cheap computers
that will revolutionize the world. There is always a lot of good stuff on
Techdirt to talk about.
One of my most favorite posts this week would have to have been the
article about how Hollywood would like to see us space-shift DVDs by forcing
us to take the DVD to a store to convert into a file for use in our non-DVD
capable devices. They appear to be hoping that by offering this capability, they
will head off the consumer groups out there who are trying to get the Librarian
of Congress to allow ripping of DVDs as an exception to the DMCA’s
It also outlines something that many of us here say regularly in the comments;
that the gatekeepers are so used to holding all the cards, abusing their
producers and customers alike with one-sided contracts, DRM, and onerous
regulations and they really don’t want to change. And neither do their customers,
who will continue ripping the DVDs themselves, violating the anti-circumvention
provision of the DMCA because it is easier and more effective than any legitimate
alternative Hollywood has provided. And of course, we are talking about
space-shifting, which was a legally protected activity until DMCA made it illegal
only if the material was encrypted to protect copyright.
The gatekeepers won’t be successful in this effort until they can control
software distribution all over the world and outlaw computers which can be
modified by the user, and I just can’t see this happening in a post-SOPA world,
no matter how much the gatekeepers would like to believe that the SOPA backlash
was a one-off event caused by “misinformation” and “undemocratic” processes.
Something that most of those who participated in the anti-SOPA demonstrations
felt pretty much summed up the actions of those behind SOPA with the backroom
deals, the laws for sale, regulatory capture, and the efforts to discredit those
behind the anti-SOPA demonstrations as lapdogs for Google.
And of course,
we have the EFF fighting against companies sending out automated bogus DMCA
takedowns for things they have no legal right taking down. Hopefully someone
will bring some sanity to this problem – but I am not holding my breath. I used
to think DMCA was an army where SOPA was a nuclear holocaust. But now it looks
like the DMCA is an army with nuclear bombs – placing them somewhat
indiscriminately and with no concern of legality or collateral effects. At some
point, like everything else, it will backfire on the gatekeepers, as we have seen
recently where two gatekeepers sue each other over the public domain or over
trademarks. Someone is going to issue a takedown for another gatekeeper, and
the nuclear armageddon will begin. Especially with automation, where companies
really aren’t checking the results to assure that the results are correct but which
does not appear to be happening in these cases (every engineer/scientist learns
early on in their career to check the results.)
Moving on, this week saw a couple posts on computer security issues. We had
the post on
how the University of Michigan hacked the online voting system that was placed
online specifically for the public to test the functionality and security of the
system. We have to commend OSDV and Washington D.C. for doing the right thing
and putting the system online to be tested. And the University of Michigan (and
the others) who tested the system to its fullest and made the results available.
This effort will make the system more secure, if they take what they learn and
fix the problems and don’t introduce new ones. We know that many of the problems
discovered here also exist in the closed source voting systems, and this is
precisely why those closed source systems are so hard to trust.
On a lighter note, we have the post
on the Raspberry Pi, and how it could be a big problem for oppressive regimes.
So many people were excited about the product that they crashed the server.
Having cheap and small devices which run open source operating systems and
applications can make things far more difficult for countries and gatekeepers who
want to control how everyone uses their computers. Having less devices to worry
about securing, and tailoring the 20W $25 PCs to replace the 650W $500 Desktop PC
will have a better effect on the environment. Now if they can get the computer
to fit into an Altoids tin, that would be awesome.
And finally, something I found to be surprising, is that
teaching styles of teachers are much more of a distraction then computers in
the classroom. I didn’t have a laptop with me in school until I was in my
senior year in college, and that was only on a special occasion. However, it
makes sense, as I find I am most efficient when I allow myself a couple short
opportunities to visit Techdirt. Though if my boss is reading, I am multi-tasking
and I am blocked waiting for the tasks to finish.