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".

Who has the right to control your PC?

An article by John Borland, Staff Writer, CNET News.com includes:

The controversy over Sony's copy protection highlights two ideas of property that are clashing as the technology and entertainment worlds converge.
...
But if some computer owners have shown a lack of respect for intellectual property rights, Sony's invasive content protection tools displayed a similarly tone-deaf attitude to consumers' sense of ownership over their own PCs, critics say.

My answer to the question: It is *MY* personal computer (PC), and I should have the right to control it. Any software which controls my computer should require my informed consent, with any other software being clearly unlawful. If the entertainment industry does not wish to respect my property rights they are free to not sell to me (regulated by various laws such as competition law), but are not free to unlawfully attack my property rights.

Microsoft and Sony-BMG malware commentary: Like finding out your brother's been sleeping with your girlfriend.

One ex-Microsoft user had this to say:

Microsoft, Symatec, McAffee and some others were aware of the Sony "rootkit: months ago. They either turned a blind eye or actively helped Sony "hide" their little present deep into your Windows system. The full story is here: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2005111316471781

CBC: Thousands of recalled Sony CDs sold in Canada

This CBC News update includes:

About 120,000 recalled Sony BMG CDs that create security glitches were sold in Canada, the company said Friday.

The discs contain XCP software, which is used to stop music piracy. But it leaves behind spyware, making computers that play the disc susceptible to hackers and viruses.

I sent the following as feedback:

It is a myth promoted by marketing people that Sony-BMG's dangerous malware was "used to stop music piracy". The fact that they likely infringed the copyright of many software authors as part of this software is clear indication that this wasn't about protecting copyright.

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

An essay by Doc Searls starts:

We're hearing tales of two scenarios--one pessimistic, one optimistic--for the future of the Net. If the paranoids are right, the Net's toast. If they're not, it will be because we fought to save it, perhaps in a new way we haven't talked about before. Davids, meet your Goliaths.

GOSLING Quarterly Keynote Discussion Series: Friday 18 November, 2005

Quarterly Keynote Discussion Series: Dealing with Spreadsheet Addiction

Guest Speaker: J. C. Nash, Professor, School of Management, University of Ottawa

No fee for admission.
3:00-4:00 p.m. Friday 18 November, 2005
Budge Crawley Theatre, Constitution Square Building, Main Floor
350 Albert Street, Ottawa

Many organizations and managers suffer a quiet addiction to spreadsheets. First turned on through easy availability, they typically get drawn into overuse through the attraction of cells that can be whatever they want them to be, designer macros, and charts in psychedelic colours. Yet all of these attractions hide the power of these uncontrolled programming environments to accidentally lose VERY large amounts of money, and to make it difficult or impossible to detect misreporting. Empirical studies demonstrate that the proportion of spreadsheets without serious errors is 0% (Yes ZERO %).

Reply to CBC's Sounds like Canada - podcasting, bad copyright law, and major label malware...

The following letter was sent as feedback to the CBC as well as to Marie-Chantale Turgeon.

I am excited to hear fellow creative Canadians talking with excitement about things such as "podcasting". Sounds Like Canada interviewed Marie-Chantale Turgeon about how she is now able to very cheaply create and communicate some of her own work without needing the very expensive, and very centrally controlled, infrastructure from the past.

In economic terms, new communications technologies have allowed the marginal cost -- the cost per additional unit -- for the reproduction and distribution of creativity to approach zero. Using peer production techniques we are also able to greatly reduce the fixed costs of production as well.

Security Vendors Clueless Over Rootkit Invasion? Policy makers are worse!

This eWeek security article by Ryan Naraine includes:

Dan Kaminsky, a security engineer for DoxPara Research, has already seen evidence of the Sony DRM rootkit installed in places it should not be.
...
Even more worrying, Kaminsky argued, is the fact that a legitimate company like Sony would attempt to legitimize the use of rootkits.

"It's no longer about detection and removal when the big companies with the big lawyers get involved. The difference between a good anti-spyware application and a bad one is whether your vendor will stand up to the lawyers. I don't know if we realistically can stand up to Sony's lawyers," Kaminsky said.

Protecting Creators' Rights in the Digital Age -- letter to the CRA.

The Creators' Rights Alliance sends out a monthly news briefing. In the November issue (#31) there was a report from the conference entitled Copyright Reform in Canada: Meeting the Challenges of the Digital Age held at the Old Mill in Toronto in September 15-16.

I sent the following letter as a reply to that section of their briefing.

California: Paperless e-voting era ends?

This InsideBayArea article by Ian Hoffman includes:

Beginning on Jan. 1, every e-voting machine in California will be required to produce a paper trail in a move that many believe signals the beginning of the end for paperless e-voting.

But in 2002, criticism arose from an unlikely quarter: Computer scientists who had written software for NASA moonshots and Star Wars missile-defense systems said computers were too subject to programming error and too unsecure to rely on them solely as arbiters of political power.

It isn't computer error that is the issue, but corruption of computer processes brought on by human error or deliberate political corruption.

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