Dale Dietrich
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Category — Legislature

Gonzales Calls for Mandatory Web Labeling Law

Categories: Legal Reform

Web site operators posting sexually explicit information must place official government warning labels on their pages or risk being imprisoned for up to five years, the Bush administration proposed Thursday.

Sources: CNet | ZDNet | Computer World | Red Herring | ars technica

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Westchester County NY Law Requires Some Businesses to Secure Their WiFi Networks

Categories: LawsWiFi Access

Text of Westchester's Public Internet Protection Act

To avoid identity theft, businesses operating in Westchester County New York will soon need to turn on certain security settings for their WiFi networks if they are used to access financial information for their customers. The law stipulates that businesses must take "minimum security measures" that "include, but are not limited to: (a) installing a network firewall; (b) changing the system’s default SSID (network name); or (c) disabling SSID broadcasting." Other businesses operating open WiFi networks will be required to post signs to warn their customers about the perils of surfing unprotected networks. Penalties range from a warning on first offense to a $500 fine on third offense.

Sources: ars technica | San Jose Mercury News | Mid-Hudson News | WestChester County Press Release | Government Technology | Send2Press

Dale's Comment 1: This is a terrific pioneering county law. Unfortunately, one issue that jumps out when reviewing the "minimum security measures" requirements of the law, is that it does NOT explicitly require businesses that use WiFi transmission technologies to encrypt such transmissions with basic WPA, or other secure, encryption technologies typically built into all modern routers/firewalls when, for example, laptops wirelessly transfer information within, to or from an otherwise secured network. (Note: WEP encryption is not secure) While the act’s non-exclusive definition of “minimal security measures” may impute this as an obligation, the definition (and therefore the act) doesn't make it crystal clear to county businesses that there is a legal obligation to use encryption technologies when wirelessly transmitting personal information. This, in my opinion, is a significant impediment to achiving the county’s otherwise laudable goal. So, while this act should, if followed, protect personal information stored within a wired network situated behind a firewall, from external hackers, it doesn'’t explicitly protect information transmitted wirelessly throughout that network or to/from external computers accessing the network while such information is being transmitted.

Dale's Comment 2: In an e-mail exchange with a country representative, it was pointed out that the county may not have the right to legislate in the area of over-the-air transmissions in light of the federal preemption doctrine. Whether or not the FCC regulations can pre-empt local legislation mandating encryption of personal information over a 300 foot WiFi transmission is an interesting, if unclear, point. If anyone reading this has an answer or thoughts in this regard, please e-mail me.

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EFF Report: Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA

Categories: DMCA-like LawsDRM AnalysisLobbyingPolicy Analysis

Text of Report
HTML Version of Report
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released version 4 of their “Unintended Consequences” report, detailing problematic side effects arising out of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Sources: ars technica  |  Ed Foster’s GripeLog  |  Tech News  |  afterdawn.com  |  TMCNet  |  Internet News  |  TG Daily  |  Axcess News

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The Information Policy Action Committee is Formed to Lobby Congress for Pro-Technology Reform

Categories: Lobbying

Ren Bucholz (EFF), David Alpert (Google) and Mark Stoller, have banded together to form a new Political Action Committee called the Information Policy Action Committee (IPAC) to lobby Congress for “pro-Geek”, “pro-technology” reform. Because the EFF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, it can’t get involved in any electoral politics. The RIAA & MPAA are not barred by law from lobbying Congress. The founders of IPAC realized that “geeks need to be engaged in electoral politics in a direct way” as a tool to counter the multi-million-dollar lobbying efforts of the industry heavyweights. From the IPAC website:

We believe that technological innovation and individual creativity are vital to the future of this country. We believe that a prosperous and democratic society depends on freedom for all individuals to pursue scientific invention and artistic expression. Unfortunately, new, more draconian copyright and patent laws threaten to stifle these freedoms and restrict public participation in science, art, and political discourse.

Sources: IPAC  |  TWiT – see episode 49A  |  TWiT Podcast 49A: Interview with IPAC Founder Ren Bucholz

Related Story: IPAC Send Senators iPods: IPAC  |  Content Added to Senators’ iPods  |  Engadget  |  ars technica  |  Boign Boing

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Free Software Foundation to Fight DRM

Categories: DRM & TPMsLobbyingOpen Source

Free Software Foundation spokesperson Peter Brown has told ZDNet U.K. that sometime in June, after the second draft of the GPLv3 is released, it will hire a professional campaigner to campaigning for the end of DRM. The campaign will be three-pronged to build awareness among developers, consumers and device manufactures.

Sources: ZDNet UK  |  P2PNet  |  CNet

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What Lies Ahead for the Canadian Recording Industry Association?

Categories: BigMedia v. P2P UsersPolicy Analysis

Howard Knopf, who acted against CRIA in the recent Canadian file sharing litigation, has written a very good summary of CRIA’s current situation in the context of the contemporary Canadian political environment.

Source: Howard Knopf

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Geist’s CBC Interview: France Tunes Apple Out: Apple Bites Back

Categories: DRM AnalysisDRM as Market LockFair Use/DealingLegal Reform

In this CBC ‘The Hour’ episode Michael Geist is interviewed about the recent proposed French National Assembly Bill. If passed by the French Senate, the law would require companies such as Apple, Sony and Microsoft to open their DRM/TPM so that competitive media player manufacturers can make their products interoperable. With this law, just as CDs can be played on any CD player, regardless of the manufacture, digital content (eg: movies and music ) purchased online would be playable on any media player. Consumers would be assured that the thousands of dollars spent to purchase music online from, say Apple’s iTunes, will be playable on any competitive media player purchased in the future. Online music consumers would not be locked into using only the hardware provided by the music vendor. Michael argues, as do I, that Canada should consider following the more consumer friendly, ‘fair use’ copyright trends in France, Australia and Denmark rather than the overly restrictive RIAA/MPAA-lobbied-for DMCA/DRM approach adopted by the U.S. and Britain.

Source: CBC’s ‘The Hour’ Show <-- Note: Follow this link and select the first “France Tunes Apple out; Apple Bites Back” segment (dated March 22, 2006) to play the interview in Windows Media Player or Real Player.

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Setback for Net Neutrality

Categories: Legal ReformNet NeutralityPolicy Analysis

The highly charged populist uprising over who owns the Internet lost its first significant battle when a U.S. House of Representatives committee voted down legislation that would block phone companies from establishing an Internet toll system for companies such as Google and Skype. Instead, the committee adopted compromise provisions, authorizing the FCC to investigate violations of network neutrality after the fact and levy fines of up to $500,000 on a case-by-case basis.
Sources: Red Herring  |  ars technica  |  PC Magazine  |  InfoWorld  |  ZDNet  |  CNet  |  TMC Net  |  CIO  |  Beta News  |  SF Chronicle  |  Michael Geist on Canadian “Net Neutrality” Telcom Reform
 
Dale’s Comment: Few things, it seems to me, are more important to the continued growth of the Internet than ‘net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the concept that Internet users should have unfettered access to all the Internet has to offer, and that network operators should be prohibited from blocking or degrading signals or content traversing their networks. Without ‘net neutrality, carriers such as AT&T could charge companies like Skype, Vonage and Google (or their customers) additional tiered fees to guarantee their services won’t be eroded or blocked when provided to end-user customers like you.

Because the fees charged by telcos such as AT&T, Verizon and Quest for data carriage are not enough to cover their losses from declining voice carriage rates, they are now floating the idea that tiered Internet access fees should be charged for access to specialized Internet services. This is absurd! Consumers already pay higher fees for the bandwidth needed to access broadband-intensive services. Charging additional tiered fees is simply double-dipping.

One would have thought that the Abermoth scandle-ridden Republican-controlled Senate would be less-likely to pander to special interest lobbyists through this mid-term election cycle. But in voting this bill down, they’ve done just that.

Alas, the Democrats appear to stand a fighting chance to take back the Senate this fall. ‘Net neutrality legislation will have to wait until then.
 
Related Story: Net Neutrality Not An Optional Feature of Internet

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What Might Conservative Copyright Look Like?

Categories: CopyrightDMCA-like LawsDRM AnalysisFair Use/DealingLegal ReformPolicy Analysis

What Might Conservative Copyright Look Like?
April 2, 2006
With the new Harper/Conservative Parliamentary session starting in Canada this week, Michael suggests that the new conservative government approach to copyright reform should include the following three elements: (i) enshrined fair dealing/use rights should be illustrative (as in the U.S.) rather than a comprehensive list; (ii) eliminate the stricture of Crown copyrights; and (iii) legal protection for digital locks (ie: technological protection measures (TPMs) and digital rights management (DRM) schemes) should be approached with trepidation to guard against how TPMs are frequently used to limit interoperability of new technologies, impede new market entrants, and foreclose competition”.

Sources: Michael Geist’s Blog | The Hill Times Related Story: Tom Flanagan’s Creators vs. Consumers – Windsor Star

Dale’s Comment: I agree with these proposals and would add the following additional recommendations:

  1. Canada should adopt legislation similar to that currently under consideration in France, whereby consumers of legally purchased content would be explicitly permitted to: (i) circumvent any TPM to make copies of purchased content interoperable with any media player; and (ii) convert digital content into alternative emerging formats for personal use and playback (eg: convert CDs, to MP3s). [See related articles posted on March 21, 2006 and March 22, 2006]
  2. Content providers should be legally required to work with others seeking interoperability to ensure that all content can be played-back using competitive products.
  3. The first-sale doctrine should apply to all digital content marketed to consumers so that such consumers will have the unfettered right to transfer/give-away/sell their legal copy of content (without retaining copies) as can be done with books, records, CDs, DVDs, video games etc. Canadian and U.S. copyright law should explicitly pre-empt any EULA provisions attempting to override such first-sale rights.

Once these measures, the very measures the music industry is fighting, are universally adopted, I believe the first serious dent into online piracy will be made. Treat honest people fairly and they will purchase music online in droves. Treat them like criminals and, well, you know.

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Denmark May Follow France to challenge Apple DRM

Categories: DRM AnalysisDRM as Market LockInternational Legal Reform

On the heels of France’s legislative push for DRM interoperability comes word that Denmark is thinking along the same lines. The legislation is not Apple-specific, however. Rather, France (and now Denmark) is pushing for general DRM interoperability that would eliminate customer lock-in.

Sources:
ars technica | The Register | Mac World | Engadget | iLounge | PC Pro | Inquirer

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Germans Face Two Years in Prison for Downloading Latest Film

Categories: BigMedia v. P2P UsersLaws

GERMANS risk two years in prison if they illegally download films and music for private use under a new law agreed yesterday. Anybody who downloads films for commercial use could be jailed for up to five years.

Sources: Times Online  |  Nam News  |  Irish Independent  |  ars technica

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Apple Responds to Proposed French Legislation

Categories: DRM AnalysisDRM as Market LockInternational Legal Reform

After quietly watching developments in the French National Assembly, Apple has responded by saying the proposed law would be tantamount to state-sponsored piracy. Apple may abandon the French market.

Dale’s Comment: How ironic! But for the fact that CDs do NOT contain restrictive DRM, the Apple iPod and iTunes would not exist! Apple now argues for a system of content restriction that will prevent future innovations, like the iPod, from being developed. France’s proposed law is similar to Canadian and U.S. laws passed in the 80′s requiring telephone companies to make telephone services interoperable with telephones manufactured by third parties. Apple’s response, of course, is pandering to its music industry clientèle. In the first instance, nothing about this bill facilitates piracy. Indeed, it includes new provisions to fine consumers that engage in music piracy. In the second instance, so long as Apple continues to innovate and Apple’s iPod continues to be the best portable music player on the market, Apple would benefit if this bill became law. In that instance, just as music from unprotected CDs play on the iPod now, music purchased in France from Sony’, Napster’s, Real’s and Microsoft’s online music stores (for instance) would be playable on Apple’s market-leading iPod. Apple must, however, feign disgust to appease its recording industry partners — the same industry players that Apple had to drag kicking and screaming to the increasingly profitable online-digital music distribution market. Digital music distribution is fast eradicating the losses that the music industry has suffered over the last couple years from decreased CD sales. See this related ars technica story: RIAA Crying Wolf All the way to the Bank.

Sources: BBC | Forbes | ars technica | Macnn | Bloomberg | PC Pro | Silicon.com

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Circumventing Competition: The Perverse Consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Categories: DMCA-like LawsDRM AnalysisFair Use/DealingLegal Reform

Text of Report
The CATO Institute has prepared a timely report where its author argues that while historically the courts have a proven track record of fashioning balanced remedies for the copyright challenges created by new technologies, the DMCA has cut the courts out of this role and instead banned any devices that “circumvent” digital rights management (DRM) technologies, which control access to copyrighted content and thereby limits or removes altogether consumers’ traditional fair use/fair dealing rights.

Sources: CATO Institute | The Inquirer | Corante

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EFF Calls for DMCA Reform

Categories: DMCA-like LawsDRM AnalysisLegal ReformLobbying

Text of DMCRA, HR 1201
The EFF is championing the proposed Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act (DMCRA, HR 1201). As with the recently passed bill in France, HR 1201 would give citizens the right to circumvent copy-protection measures as long as what they’re doing is otherwise legal.

Sources: EFF | DailyTech.com | WebProNews.com | CD Freaks

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French National Assembly Passes Bill to open iTunes DRM – On to the Senate for Approval

Categories: DRM as Market LockInternational Legal Reform

Translated Text of Key Article 7 of Bill
(courtesy Freedom-to-Tinker.com)

France’s parliament voted 296-193 in favor of a copyright bill that would be Europe’s first legislation forcing companies such as Apple Computer Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to make music downloads playable on all portable digital players. The bill is set for debate and a vote in the Senate in May.

Sources: Mac Observer | MSNBC | Globe & Mail | Engadget | ars technica | Computer World | Reuters | Financial Times | CNet | Fox News | BBC | Times Online | Forbes | Red Herring | MP3.com | The Register | L.A. Times | Wired | Aljazeera | New York Times | Hollywood Reporter | Xinhua China | John C. Dvorak | DRM Watch

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French Finish Draft of Law to open iTunes

Categories: DRM AnalysisDRM as Market LockDRM Restricting UseInternational Legal Reform

The new law, now set for a vote on Tuesday, would allow consumers to circumvent software that protects copyrighted material–known as digital rights management (DRM)–if it is done to convert digital content from one format to another. Such circumvention is currently illegal in much of the world.

Sources: ZDNet | Wired | New York Times | Reuters | Business Week | CNet | USA Today | L.A. Times | Silicon.com

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French Law Could Open Up iTunes to Any Device

Categories: DRM AnalysisDRM as Market LockInternational Legal ReformiVOD/iTVNew Business ModelsPolicy Analysis

A law being proposed in France would force companies like Apple to open up content downloaded from, say, the iTunes Music Store to be used on non-Apple devices. If they don’t comply, customers would be allowed to break the DRM.

Sources: PC Magazine | engadget | Yahoo! News | Inquirer | Reuters | Boston Globe | ars technica | Globe & Mail | MobileMag | Playfuls | Silicon.com | Business Week | Red Herring | PC Pro

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New Debate for French Piracy Law

Categories: International Legal ReformPiracy

The French government is trying again to push through a measure cracking down on file-sharing on the internet. Enemies of the move in France’s National Assembly passed an amendment in December allowing users to download as much as they like for a small fee.

Source: BBC

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FCC Releases 12th Annual Report on the Status of Competition in the Video Programming Market

Categories: Digital TVFCCPolicy AnalysisSatellite Radio

Text of 12th Annual Report

This annual report is a comprehensive overview of competition in the cable, satellite, OTA, wireless and related markets. If you want a solid overview of the regulatory environment for these industries, this report is a terrific place to start.

Coverage: WJLA ABC 7 News | The State Cathy Kirkman | Feb 10, 2006 FCC Press Release [.doc]

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Australian Parliamentary TPM Report Accepts User Concerns

Categories: DMCA-like LawsInternational Legal ReformPolicy Analysis

Text of Committee Report | version

The Australian House of Reps Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs released its report on the Review of Technological Protection Measures ("TPM") Exceptions. The report includes 37 recommendations with a long list of protections including exceptions for fair dealing, education, and libraries.

Sources: Michael Geist | LawFont.com Summary | The Age

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Canada’s Private Copying Levy Distortion

Categories: CopyrightLobbyingMedia LevyPolicy Analysis

The Copyright Board of Canada last week released its proposed tariff for 2007 for the private copying levy. The numbers remain unchanged. Geist argues for either ensuring the levy covers all private copying or the levy should be dropped.

Source: Michael Geist

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Bush Signs Digital TV Transition Bill – Setting February 17, 2009 Deadline

Categories: Digital TVLawsMilestones

Bush signed into law legislation setting February 17, 2009, as the date U.S. broadcasters must end transmission of analog television signals and move to all-digital broadcasts. The move from the upper-700-MHz spectrum band will free 60 MHz of wave space for auction to mobile wireless carriers and 24 MHz for emergency response agencies.

Sources: PC World | joystiq | HDTV Magazine | Multi-Channel News | RCR News | Network World | DTV Design Line | Digital Connect | Telecomweb

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The Year of Living DRMishly

Categories: DRM AnalysisPolicy Analysis

This year may be the year that gadget makers finally conquer the living room, replacing DVD players, VCRs and personal video recorders with all-in-one media devices that serve up HDTV, pre-recorded movies and digital music. If so, it will likely also be the year that people learn the meaning of DRM, an acronym the industry says stands for digital rights management, but critics say should stand for digital restrictions mongering.

Source: Wired

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UK Watchdog Howls at DRM Woes

Categories: DMCA-like LawsDRM AnalysisInternational Legal ReformPolicy Analysis

Text of NCC submission to all-party Internet group inquiry into DRM
The UK’s National Consumer Council (NCC) is calling for new laws to better protect consumer rights when it comes to enjoying digital content.

Sources: PC Pro | vnunet.com | Inquirer | BBC | Macworld | Politics.co.uk

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EFF to EMI: Don’t Sue DMR Researchers

Categories: DRM & ResearchLobbying

Text of Open Letter
EFF Urges EMI in an open letter not to assert any claims under EULAs or the DMCA against security researchers who have been, are, or will be working to identify security problems with copy protection technologies used on EMI compact discs.

Sources: EFF  |  Reuters  |  ars technica  |  Internet News  |  P2PNet  |  Digital Copyright Canada

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