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Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, August 21, 2002. Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Glenn Reynolds: "The ideal candidate is one who is (1) in Hollywood's pocket; and (2) vulnerable, with a realistic challenger. Any suggestions?" 

Sean Gallagher: "Both copyrights and patents, post-DMCA, are chilling to free speech and infringe on users' well-defined rights of the past. They've paved the road for anti-time and form shifting for personal use, the locking of users into consuming media in a certain way (and with hardware from a certain vendor), and preventing users from becoming anything more than consumers if possible." 

Eric Soroos: "How can you tell when a network executive is lying? His lips move." 

Werbach: "During the Internet boom, the technologists were ascendant, so Hollywood had to play along, though its online efforts largely failed. Now, thanks to the economic crash, consolidation of the media industry, and the long-awaited rise of broadband, these strange bedfellows are finding themselves thrown together. It's not a pretty sight." 

A picture named biden.gifCheck this out. Lessig is tuning into Tara Sue. Excellent. He reminds us that we should target one Republican (like Howard Coble) and one Democrat, so no one in DC feels safe in undermining freedom on the Internet. Good idea. Joseph Biden of Delaware, a big target for sure, is a Democrat. Biden is up for re-election in November. His Republican opponent is Ray Clatworthy

The Green Papers website gives you a quick readout, by state, of who's up for re-election, and who's running against them, by state. The whole US House is up, and one third of the Senate. Unfortunately neither of California's Senators, both Democrats, are up for re-election this year. 

Branford Marsalis starts a new record label. "We guarantee that we will give artists the freedom to make great music."  

John Patrick: "Stopping for a bite to eat in a small New England town, was I ever surprised to find a Wi-Fi connection available at 1.2 megabits per second. Where was this bandwidth coming from? No idea. Who was paying for this bandwidth? Same answer." 

A picture named tarasmall.gifTara Sue gets some virtual ink in the Providence Journal weblog. Thanks Sheila for helping spread the meme. A congressional candidate with a weblog. It's a start. 

Note to Tara Sue and others running for elective office, Don Strickland may be a good Web campaign manager for you. "I love Larry's notion: identify 2 luddite members of Congress -- one Republican and one Democrat. Organize and defeat them in November. Did I mention I need income." 

News.Com: "The president of media giant News Corp warns that the Internet has become a 'moral-free zone,' with the medium's future threatened by pornography, spam and rampant piracy." 

Paolo is leading a project to share bookmarks. 

WorldTechTribune: NSA deputy director says “never again” to open source

On this day three years ago, I got my outliner connected to the discussion group software that would form the core of Manila later in 1999. I still write that way. When I get back to programming, my first job is to finish the weblog outliner, so people using Blogger, Radio, Manila or Movable Type will be able to edit their weblog posts in the outliner. Sometimes it takes a long time to realize a dream. 

The email thread with Lessig, mediated by David P Reed, continues. He says he supports copyright for software, and asked for a citation that indicates otherwise. I sent him the Hemingway quote from his Future of Ideas book. It feels like a waste of time on both sides. Ultimately he may get his laws passed but they won't be respected by people who create code. It's his career to waste if he wants to. 

BTW, here's the bookmark for where we got to yesterday.  

Chuck Shotton enumerates the whole argument in gory detail. Lawyers please read this before passing new laws. I've been arguing this endlessly with Lessig. He thinks my source reveals all. I'd like to introduce him to some programmers I've worked with who say "comments are for sissies." In user interface oriented software the UI reveals all. Perhaps source matters for infrastructure, but probably not as much as some people (who don't write software) think. 

Megnut: "I got up a bit earlier today than usual and noticed the sun wasn't yet shining into the living room." 

Joe Gregorio writes to say that his weblog is more readable now, and indeed it is. Patrick Breitenbach says the culprit was a W3C-supplied "core" stylesheet called "Swiss" that specifies the font size as 1em. The stylesheet is described on this W3C page, which unfortunately also uses the Swiss stylesheet and therefore is difficult to read.  

Adam Curry: "Good morning from a rainy Belgium." 

Yesterday I did several back and forths via email with Larry Lessig, we got to an interesting place. Late last night he posted a lengthy piece on his weblog. It's a bit snooty, but what the heck, we're big boys. It's good to see the professor use the medium. By the end of the piece we're in agreement. The most powerful tool we have is the vote. And while he's a newbie to weblogs, it's the most powerful way to route around the media monopoly owned by our common opponents. It's also the key to self-governance, don't overlook the power of representatives who take responsibility for communicating every day with the people who elect them. How could Lessig get this idea until he himself stopped delegating his weblog. I'm glad to see the professor roll up his sleeves and participate. For him, that's the first, and perhaps the biggest step. Now w'e're getting the real Lessig. Excellent. 

John Robb: "I was the person that offered a weblog to Larry late last year, before we launched Radio." 

Why do we copyright software?  

We seem to assume that software is like a book or a movie or musical creation. In some ways software is like those things. But in other ways it's like a car. You might copyright the owner's manual for a car, but it would be ludicrous to copyright the car itself. It's a piece of machinery.

For at least a couple of decades we've been copyrighting software, and now I realize that I don't understand why we do. Talking with Doc Searls last night, who is a master of analogy, we kind of agreed that perhaps there is no suitable analogy for software, that software is a unique thing unto itself.

There's no doubt, with me at least, that creative developers need to own what they create. I don't believe in communism for my creative work (maybe yours, heh). So when I sell you the right to use my software, what am I selling you, what rights do you have, and what rights do I retain?

Be careful, if you strip me of all my rights, I'll go make pottery. It has to be enticing to the creative person.

Note: Thanks to Ernie the Attorney for helping me see this in his post yesterday.

TQ White on UserLand copyrights 

I don't have a suitable web place to comment but wanted to add a thought to your process.

It's not clear to me where copyrights actually fit into your business. You expose almost all of your code. You encourage people to duplicate your developments (a brilliant thing to do, I think). You allow people to use variations of your software for free under many circumstances. When you charge for Frontier, it's a subscription fee that compensates you for the development work you do each year, not the code you did last year.

(Heck, I didn't have the money to continue my Frontier subscription last year but bought a Radio the day it came out. I don't have time while making my new company to mess with it but I wanted to support the process. No copyright necessary on my street.)

I don't see how Userland makes use of software copyrights at all or how you would be harmed if they went away.


Last update: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 at 8:10 PM Eastern.

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