Code=Law

Topics discussing when software code acts as a form of policy, what Lawrence Lessig , author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace would call (US) "East-coast-code meets West-coast-code".

Does it Matter Where Your Data Lives?

This is a question that Michael Geist asks in his blog, and I have problems with the focus of this article. The suggestion is that the physical location of where the CPU, RAM and hard disks data is stored on should be our primary concern.

The primary concern should be who controls the software authors who write the software that accesses and manipulates our data. While there are a narrow set of circumstances where geography of the hardware matters, the reality is that we need to be able to trust the vendors who write the software running on computers physically located close to us as much as we do cloud software services.

Lack of economic harm from rights infringement not whole story

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), a scientific institute of the European Commission, released a report with a familiar message: illegal music downloads aren't a substitute for legal music downloads. While I believe this type of research is critical to debunk the outrageous claims about the economic harm abused to justify backward policy choices, I don't think economic impact alone is the entire story.

If someone broke into our home and did not take anything, only rummaged through our belongings (possibly taking pictures, etc), we would still feel violated. Integral to home ownership is the right to decide who can enter our homes, and our privacy and property rights are violated even if nothing was taken or damaged, and there was no economic impact.

We wouldn't require Liberal party membership for access to PARL.gc.ca features, would we?

A blog article by Kady O'Malley about a new feature on the parliamentary website suggests that rather than moving towards Internet standards that the parliamentary IT folks are moving to being more software vendor dependant.

In this case it was a new "View this Video" feature only being available under Microsoft's Internet Explorer. There is an ugly hack called IETab which allows Internet Explorer to run within Firefox or Chrome, but that still requires the use of a specific brand of browser that only runs on a single historically popular operating system.

The popularity of an operating system or device at any moment in time should not be considered relevant to new features on the parliamentary website. At one time the Liberals held a majority, and by the logic of suggesting that having a majority once means that things should be mandated forever we should be mandating that only Liberal party members be able to access new features on the parliamentary website.

Privacy/security battleground in your computer, not just on network and in cloud

I want to highlight and frame something said by Christopher Parsons in a recent interview on CDNTech network.  When asked about encryption (time 6:12), he clarified that surveillance will most often involve going around encryption, such as by installing malware on the computer of the person being surveilled.  The alternative would be to intercept the communication on the network or as stored in the cloud, and try to decrypt.

This should point to an often forgotten truth:  that the question of who controls your computer is just as, if not more, important than how Internet Access Providers (IAP's) or services (Facebook, Google, etc) are regulated when it comes to protecting your rights and interests.

Douglas Rushkoff on Program or Be Programmed

This morning on the way into work I listened again to the interview CBC Spark's Nora Young did with Douglas Rushkoff as part of their Summer audio blog. I recommend everyone listen to this interview. Greatly simplifying, he speaks about how we live in a programmed world, and that people who don't understand at least a little bit about programming will not be able to be full participants.

ABC Copyright: slides and YouTube video

On June 4 I gave a workshop at the ABC Copyright Conference titled Access vs. Copyright: Technological measures, Paracopyright, and copyright.  I made my slides available and on June 17'th made an informal recording for YouTube based on the same slides.  Links to both, and to media made of other talks, have now been added to the program.

Summary:  I gave a brief history of TPMs being added to copyright law, then described the two narratives for discussing TPMs: 2-constituency involving copyright holders and users (and a magical incantation on content), and 4-constituency including copyright holders, users, software authors and hardware owners.

Since "digital locks" (technological measures) are often applied to both content and devices, I suggested people compare how the law and various people protect or disrespect the relevant rights-holders.  Each of copyright and technology property rights have primary and secondary infringers, and who is committing these infringements are quite different.

Protecting IT property rights not a short-term calling

I've been asked over the last decade how my activism will change once Canadian legislation that includes Paracopyright passes. Will my activism be finished, and will I admit "defeat" if a bill abrogates the government's responsibility to protect IT property rights?

Canadian Web filtering foreign policy ‘hypocritical’

An ITWorld Canada article by Kathleen Lau includes some quotes from an interview I did with her.

“In other words, exactly the same things that we would be highly critical of if the Chinese government were doing it,” said McOrmond of the proposed legislative changes. “I think there’s a very subjective, almost hypocritical way that we are treating the issue.”

As for the technology—Web content filtering—McOrmond said there are, like anything, as many beneficial applications for it as there are distasteful ones.

IT property rights and the Xbox-Modding case

According to a Wired Magazine article by David Kravets, federal prosecutors have dropped their prosecution of the first case involving the DMCA and Xbox-modding on Thursday, “based on fairness and justice.” This is not to say that the US courts considered what was done to be legal, but that the methods used to investigate were inappropriate.

This case offers me an opportunity to discuss my own history and feelings on the matter.

Why legal protection for technical measures is controversial

On August 14'th I gave a presentation on legal protection for technological measures, and why this policy doesn't fit well within Copyright law (Slides, link to audio recording)

Summary: The types of activities which copyright regulates all assume that you already have access to content. Copyright never concerned itself with concept of access, which was left to other laws.

Technical measures can restrict access, but can't in the real world directly restrict the types of activities that copyright regulates.

Copyright and technical measures are disjoint, but technical measures and other areas of law such as contract and e-commerce overlap.

Is technology useful for stopping an authorized person from doing things which Copyright regulates? Should we radically change "Copyright" to address this problem, or is this a non-Copyright issue?

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