DonK's blog

Traveling through hyper-space isn't like dusting crops

Cory Doctorow continues to impress me. His ability to distill simple truths about DRM and copy protection improves with each article. His latest Guardian posting is no exception:

There are some fundamental truths in the universe. We cannot travel faster than light, and we cannot make a copy protection system that is uncrackable.

More cracks in the dam

Now that there have been demonstrations of unlocked iPhones, the technology entrepreneur community in the USoA has begun to question the DMCA. I found it interesting that even more people are trying to define a narrower interpretation of the law:

Whoops, DRM

With no explanation, it seems Microsoft's WGA system is experiencing some down-time. One possible side-effect of this might be that your copy of Windows could be marked as counterfeit. If this happens, there is a possibility that you will see some reduced functionality.

Bear-baiting from Redmond

(In response to Open Letter to Steven Ballmer: Show Us the (allegedly infringing) Code)

While I am completely convinced that Steve Balmer needs to be called on his grandstanding, I don't think forcing him to "reveal the violations" (or "show us the code"), is the most intelligent tactic. Like many old economy software vendors who have played the patent game, I'm certain that Microsoft Corporation has some stupid, overly-broad patent in their portfolio. If their lawyers pulled one of these bits of junk out from under a rock, what would the free software community do? Worst case, what would happen if they actually sued someone?

DRM patent

(via /.)

It looks like Alan Cox has filed for a US patent on DRM. Though I'm neither a fan of software patents nor a fan of DRM, I do like the description of DRM offered in the preamble: [a] rights management system monitors and controls use of a computer program to prevent use that is not in compliance with acceptable terms.

If more technologists could describe DRM in this fashion, perhaps our government might be more willing to examine it's impact on users?

Puretracks strikes out

Recently, a friend sent me a code that would enable me to download a single song at no cost from Puretracks.com. When discussing the junction between the digital world and copyright, I've often suggested that I would use a site like iTunes or Puretracks, if and only if they worked properly for me. Since I would be spending play money rather than my own real money, I decided to give it a whirl!

First and foremost, their web user interface isn't the shiniest penny in the bunch. There were a number of instances where I could swear I put a track into my basket, but when I followed the link to my basket, it was not there. Refreshing the page didn't help either, the only solution was to navigate to the shopping basket page via the "my account" page.

Watching the World Cup -- in China

Like many other people in Canada, I've been watching as much World Cup (soccer) as possible. Today, I manage to squeeze in part of a match during the lunch hour and the tail end of the Italy/Ukraine match. Since the games are on during the work day (in my time zone), I've entertained the notion of watching streaming feeds. Another person has made the same decision, choosing to use a set of streams out of China.

This seems like a typical story of trial and tribulation where the author finally resorts to a questionable method when all reasonable attempts to legitimately acquire the content fail.

Twilight on the Spanish Main: Is 'piracy' gone?

It's the pirate's sunset. The outbreak has been contained. Perhaps the industry has realized their mistake? How long will it take for our representatives in Parliament to get the memo?

Today, the head of the RIAA has declared that illegal downloading is "contained". The heads of the industry have now recognized that providing music on-line is a growing market (a 77% increase, this year). The rate of decline in CD sales seems to be much slower at 3%. I seem to recall that CDs were seeing the same rate of decline in previous years.

More on Captain Copyright

Personally, I'm quite impressed that someone has taken the time to help teach children about copyright concepts. Since these concepts embody some of the rules that assist us in our exchange of creative ideas, they should be explained to children in a clear, balanced manner.

There are a number of errors of omission in the lessons on the site. The teacher's notes to Activity 4 do not explain Private Copying. Perhaps a less controversial example (rather than music downloading) could have been used?

I'm also concerned if the discussion of things like Activities like 3 & 4 are valuable when teaching Grades 1-3. I'm not certain that children of this age can grasp the "world economic impact of copyright" (I'm still struggling with this question!). Perhaps discussion of artists and the role of art in our society might be a better form of introduction?

Commentary on Captain Copyright

I have my own commentary on the Captain Copyright website. A collegue, MC, attempted to send his thoughts to the Captain but unfortunately the Captain does not seem to be ready to receive e-mail yet. I'm reprinting those comments (with permission) as inspiration to others who might want to send a balanced comment to the Captain.


I just stumbled on your website. It's quite interesting. As a software developer I think it is important that people understand the importance of copyright. However, while the information that is contained on the website is quite accurate, I am a bit worried that children will emerge thinking that there is only one way to deal with copyrighted information.

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