A comment from Scot reminds me that you all might be interested to hear how last week’s World Poetry Day event on tinywords went. The short answer: Amazingly well! More than 60 poets from around the world (India, Ireland, Trinidad, Australia, the U.S., Mexico, and more) submitted their haiku online, and I read them all aloud at Yerba Buena, thanks to a solid WiFi connection from someone (not, curiously, the TMobile hotspot in the Starbucks adjacent, but some other, free signal — emanating from the Moscone Center beneath my feet, perhaps?)
California debuted a nice shiny new portal a couple of years ago, which I wrote about at the time. One of the people responsible building the site was Arun Baheti. When I interviewed him in 2001, he boasted that he’d built the entire site in under 110 days with a budget of $2 million. Now it turns out that the site cost quite a bit more than that. “The state paid one vendor $3.2 million and another $8.4 million without comparing prices or analyzing other factors, as called for in state guidelines,” writes John Hill in today’s Sacramento Bee story.
Damn, I hate it when they lie to me.
The other site I run is tinywords.com, which publishes one haiku per weekday on the web and via email, SMS, and pager. Tomorrow, which is the first day of spring and also World Poetry Day, tinywords will be hosting the first ever world-wide, WiFi, ad-hoc, open-mike haiku reading. People around the world will be contributing their haiku to tinywords using the site’s new comments feature (which I created earlier this month, modeling it after MovableType’s comments utility, as seen on tweney.com). As the haiku show up on the site, they will simultaneously be broadcast to a special World Poetry Day mailing list, so people can receive them by email or by pager or cell phone. And at the same time, we’ll be reading them aloud in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens, thanks to a WiFi connection at the Starbuck’s there. It’s high-tech haiku!
If you’re in San Francisco, stop by Yerba Buena at lunchtime. If you can’t be there in person, participate online by posting your haiku on the tinywords site, and/or by signing up for the World Poetry Day mailing list on tinywords. Details are here. I hope to see you tomorrow!
I’ve got not one, but two articles in the April issue of PC World. For a feature story on Internet security, I wrote six how-to sidebars detailing important security patches for Windows, various applications, email programs, and browsers. It’s a veritable compendium of tips on how to fortify your system’s security. Naturally, information like this ages fast — Microsoft alone releases dozens, if not hundreds, of patches per year -=- so read it and act on it soon.
I also wrote a new story about the music industry’s increasingly heavy-handed tactics in protecting their copyrights. The big story now: the RIAA’s attempts to get Verizon to turn over the name of a user suspected of downloading more than 600 copyrighted songs. (I never could get the RIAA to explain how they knew which songs were being stolen — I guess we have to take their word on it for now.) That action is still tied up in the courts. But this story gives a taste of what’s to come.
From the April 2003 issue of PC World magazine
Millions of people download copyrighted songs and even movies from the Internet with little fear of being caught. That’s about to change.
“[The music industry is] starting to move down the food chain,” says Lawrence Hertz, a partner at New York law firm Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein and Wood, and a specialist in online law.
He predicts that music publishers and other content owners will soon use 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act much more aggressively–prosecuting not only companies like Napster but also individuals who download copyrighted content–and that they will start with the biggest users of peer-to-peer networks.
The new strategy became evident last year when the Recording Industry Association of America served Verizon with a subpoena demanding that the service provider disclose the identity of a user who uploaded more than 600 songs while connected to the company’s Internet service.
Verizon protested, but recently a U.S. district court judge ruled in favor of the RIAA and ordered Verizon to reveal the user’s identity.
Verizon asked for a stay of the judge’s order; at press time this was still pending, but approval seemed unlikely.
“If this ruling stands, consumers will be caught in a digital dragnet,” says John Thorne, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel. If the stay is denied, Verizon says it will seek a stay at the appeals court level.
“It’s going to have quite a huge impact on privacy,” says Gwen Hinze, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF argues that the ruling lets copyright holders get users’ identities merely by alleging copyright infringement (a fairly easy standard to meet)–without review by a judge and without giving users any chance to protect themselves or their identities.
The music industry says that it’s just defending itself from digital piracy, which has contributed to two successive years of declining CD sales.
“Most consumers are getting what they want on the Internet, and it’s really hurting this industry,” says Brian Dunn, senior VP of corporate development for Macrovision, a provider of copyright-protection technologies. Dunn predicts that cash-strapped music labels could start paring promotion budgets for new artists in the coming year, while moving to include copy protection on all of their CDs. (So far, only a handful of major-label releases in the United States use copy protection.)
No New Laws?
Some major copyright holders appear to be satisfied with the powers they have under existing laws. Touting a “market-oriented” approach to copyright protection, the RIAA, along with the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project, recently issued a statement agreeing to pursue such protection without government intervention.
But the movie industry, which is conspicuously absent from the group announcement, continues to support the notion of legal mandates. “We are not prepared to abandon the option of seeking technical protection measures via the Congress or an appropriate regulatory agency,” says Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.
There is one attempt in the works to mitigate the DMCA’s harsher aspects: the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act, recently introduced by Representative Rick Boucher (D-Virginia). The act–supported by an array of technology and telecommunications companies, including Intel, Philips, and Verizon–would let users circumvent copyright protection for “fair use” purposes, such as making backup copies of CDs or opening e-books in more than one reader, an activity the DMCA now prohibits (see “Hollywood vs. Your PC“).
Whatever happens legislatively, the days when you could download all the songs or movies you wanted for free, without fear of prosecution, seem nearly at an end.
Link broken? Try the Wayback Machine.