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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 22, 2002. Thursday, August 22, 2002

Washington Post: "The most downloaded album in Internet history -- the recently released 'The Eminem Show' -- is also the best-selling album of the year, which suggests that at least some fans were spurred to buy the disc even though they already had it stashed on their hard drives." 

Wired: "[Verizon] refused to comply with the order, arguing the entertainment industry is presuming the guilt of its users without any due process." 

BBspot is a "satirical news and comedy source and meant to be funny. If you are easily offended, gullible or don't have a sense of humor we suggest you go elsewhere." 

Mac Net Journal: "Chuck Goolsbee from Digital Forest, the ISP that hosts Mac Net Journal and my other business site for White Rabbit Publishing, posted an interesting note yesterday to the TidBITS Talk mailing list about the MPAA going after his business to shut down an individual user who is sharing Simpsons material through Gnutella while connected to Digital Forest." 

Tomorrow is Day 70 of No Smoking Dave. Ten weeks. A non-smoking story at the Bowie concert last week. As I'm walking out I see people lighting up everywhere. Smell of smoke all around. It smells good. I really want one. In my mind I outline the steps it would take to be smoking and the amount of time it would take. I would ask someone if they could spare a cigarette. If they said no I'd offer them $1. Oh hell, just offer $1 to begin with. Whoo, where would I get a match. I'd ask for a light. Take a drag. Estimated time, 15 seconds to one minute to first nicotine rush. My heart started beating faster. I felt scared like you feel on a NY subway platform as a train is entering the station and you're standing on the platform and in the instant before it passes you think how you could end your life by leaning forward. I never actually jump, and that night I didn't smoke, and it's good that inside I equate smoking with death so deeply that it invokes my subway nightmare. Do I have it beat? No way. I am still an addict, I expect I will be for life. But I'm an addict in recovery, who is not taking the drug. Even better, I am becoming a constant evangelist for a nicotine-free lifestyle for nicotine addicts, illustrating the old adage that you teach what you most need to learn. 

Ed Cone: "What is success for a neophyte Libertarian against a GOP heavyweight -- 20%? Would 30% be shocking? The last Libertarian got 9% to Coble's 91%. The successes of Grubb's campaign, and its implications for the Weblog nation, will most likely be incremental, not monumental. But in the real world, that's impressive enough." 

Doc: "Give every journalist in the whole AOL/Time Warner organization a blog." 

SJ Merc interviews Janis Ian. "She credits Napster and its progeny with sparking renewed interest in her music, at a time when she can't be heard on contemporary-hit-obsessed radio stations. And she says her decision to offer free music downloads had done the opposite of what the industry predicts it would do: It caused a 300 percent spike in merchandise sales." 

Glen Daniels is "lucky enough to share a house with the two best cats on the planet." 

Amy Wohl: "Copyright remains an inappropriate mechanism for protecting software because the right model would let IP owners do what Dave Winer does with his software -- let people develop on top of it or even create another version of it and do that legally -- while still protecting his right to collect revenue from the use of the software itself, should he choose to do so." 

John Robb: "That a puny $20 billion industry is on a path to potentially cause $100 billion in damage to the US economy based on less than $1 billion in suspected damages defies reason." 

Joshua Allen rambles his way to an important idea. "The whole point of loosely-coupled architectures is that you don't need to have access to source code to get the network effect." Exactly right. Think about XML-RPC. I can deploy applications that cross all kinds of technical, philosophical, and economic boundaries, without installing other people's software, and certainly not requiring me to see their source code. Yuck. Who wants to read someone else's source? Have you ever tried to read Perl code?  

Dawn to Doc: "You are the sexiest and sweetest tech blogger ever." That's the truth. 

More thoughts on Lessig 

More thoughts on Lessig's proposal for software copyright reform.

First I don't have a good pointer to a Web page explaining his proposal, so I'm having to do this from memory. I'm not going to buy his book because I don't want to give him any money because I find what he wants so unsupportable. If you've read his book, and if I've got his proposal wrong, please send me a correction. Thanks.

Here's the deal. Lessig would limit copyright to ten years, and force developers to put source code in escrow. After the copyright expires the source code goes into the public domain.

Now of course we don't have to do that now. If the customers placed a sufficiently high value on having access to source code, or if they felt our copyrights lasted too long, of course we would have to do what they want us to, or retire from the market. So the proponents of this plan are trying to legislate what they haven't been able to gain in the market. It's a weak position for that reason.

Second, it comes at a pretty bad time in the software business, which has been reeling from the idea that what we produce should all be free. Right now, in mid-2002, we're getting back on track, there's a general consensus developing that if we want to have a technology industry, users are going to have to pay. Given enough time that will lead to profitable products, and investment. But right now we're weak. There's no investment in software, hasn't really been any investment in a decade (the investors were buying marketing people, ads on TV, lots of stuff that produced no new software). Why attack such a weak industry, and one that is probably very vital to the health of our economy?

After giving it a bunch of thought, I think Lessig is going after the BigCo's, probably Microsoft. But he would also sacrifice the independent companies. If we have to publish our source code the users won't pay for it. Ten years isn't enough time to create a new market. So you wouldn't get any commercial innovation in this system. The BigCo's don't innovate.

Further, I don't buy the idea that Lessig's plan is granting me anything that I'm not entitled to, at no charge, by the US Constitution and the First Amendment. But of course I'm as much of a legal neophyte as Lessig is a software neophyte.

One final thought, to those who think there are two camps here, the good guys (Lessig, open source advocates, small creative developers) and the bad guys (Eisner, Redstone, Spielberg, Feinstein, Berman, Coble, Rosen, Valenti) -- think again. I have a lot of interests in common with the people you think are bad. I believe in financial compensation for creative people. Where I diverge from the entertainment industry is that they don't pay the artists. That's their basic weakness. (Also as a user of their product, I don't like that they're so anti-user, so unwilling to give me what I want, or even listen to their users.)

I am a capitalist and proud of it. And I also believe in the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Perhaps Lessig and his friends are well intentioned, I don't know what the thought process is, and I don't care. They've got a gun to the head of my art and business. We can't talk as long as they have that position. Withdraw, and then let's get to know each other and see what we have in common.


Last update: Thursday, August 22, 2002 at 7:35 PM Eastern.

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