Culture

Whether free culture allowing all citizens to fully participate, or centrally owned/communicated/controlled culture, at the root of much of the debates are very different ideas on cultural policy.

Where does Minister Frulla really stand on cultural policy?

The following letter was sent to the Hill Times.

Re: Culture part of Canadian identity goes beyond NAFTA, says Minister Frulla (Page 2, September 7, 2005 issue of Hill Times)

I find it disturbing that federal Heritage Minister Liza Frulla claims that the UNESCO cultural diversity convention is a big personal achievement as a politician. Will she also claim as an achievement the passage of her Bill C-60 and the implementation of the 1996 WIPO treaties, even though Bill C-60 directly conflicts with the UNESCO convention?

Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far

SysInternals.com guru Mark Russinovich has a detailed investigation of a rootkit from Sony Music. The rootkit introduces several security holes into the system that could be exploited by others, such as hiding any executable file that starts with '$sys$'. Russinovich also identifies several programming bugs in the method it uses to hook system calls, and chronicles the painful steps he had to take to 'exorcise the daemon' from his system.

Please write your MP to ensure that they realize that it is Sony and other music distributors that are the ones "cracking" security and breaking into computers, and not people who are circumventing DRM in order to protect their rights (property, privacy, etc).

See also: p2pnet: New: Sony BMG rootkit DRM, The Register: Removing Sony's CD 'rootkit' kills Windows, CNET News.com: Sony CD protection sparks security concerns, PCPro: Sony DRM burrows into rootkit code, BetaNews: Sony to Help Remove its DRM Rootkit, BBC: Sony slated over anti-piracy CD

Literature of Code and Teaching

I was reminded of this quote in a recent conversation, and wanted to post it as it speaks of one of many ways in which software is not treated enough like a literary work. While FLOSS software solves this problem, educators trying to teach future software authors don't adequately understand their current failures.

The effect of ownership imperatives has caused there to be no body of software as literature. It is as if all writers had their own private companies and only people in the Melville company could read "Moby-Dick" and only those in Hemingway’s could read "The Sun Also Rises." Can you imagine developing a rich literature under these circumstances? Under such conditions, there could be neither a curriculum in literature nor a way of teaching writing. And we expect people to learn to program in this exact context?

R.P.Gabriel and R. Goldman, "Mob Software: The Erotic Life of Code", Proc. ACM Conf. Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications, ACM Press, Oct 2000

Geist: Internet Age Advice for the CBC

Michael Geist's weekly Law Bytes column reflects on the current debate on the future of the CBC and public broadcasting in Canada. He argues that missing from much of the dialogue has been the recognition that technology and the Internet may provide the best hope to bring new relevance to the role of the public broadcaster. With its labor woes behind it, the CBC should demonstrate its value to the public by following the lead of other public broadcasters. In particular, it should leverage the Internet to provide unparalleled access to content, grant Canadians the right to use its content in creative new ways, and become an active public interest participant in the Canadian Internet policy process. Toronto Star version, Freely available version.

Should Jane Siberry 'let go let go' and make her music free/gratis?

Jane Siberry has an email newsletter you can sign up to on her website. In the September 9 Museletter she announced, "I just put 'Calling All Angels' on my website for free".

She invited people to join a 'Let Go, Let Go' part of her online forum and talk about the idea of making all her music available.

This story was later reported on p2pnet.

Mark Cuban's plan to break the video window.

This Slate article by Edward Jay Epstein includes:

If the studios did not give DVDs a 45-day head start and a large number of DVD renters switched to pay-per-view to get the same movies, the studios would make much more money.
...
What has prevented the studios from closing the video window is simple: Wal-Mart. The company, which is the single biggest seller of DVDs, has made it clear that it does not want to compete with home delivery.

This is just yet more proof that the problem the studies (and major record labels) have is not the lack of legal protection for their (possibly illegal) attempts to monitor, meter and control the (unrelated to copyright) private activities of their customers (AKA: DRM).

Nepal: UNESCO Okays Convention on cultural diversity

It is interesting to read this article by Arun Ranjit in Nepal based paper Gorkhapatra Sansthan. It speaks about the convention and the isolation of the USA.

I find it frustrating that Canada's culture minister seems to want to protect Canadian cultural diversity from culture being considered "yet another matter of trade", while through Bill C-60 she is promoting/protecting/mandating US-dominated methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity. It is unlikely the UNESCO convention will even succeed at reducing the harm to cultural diversity caused by the 1996 WIPO treaties.

Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation.

J.D. Lasica's new book explores the future of movies, computing, television, music, and games—and the choices facing us as a society as we transition into the digital age.

This book is available online as a 5 part series.

Embracing our Digital Destiny

This AlwaysOn Network article by J.D. Lasica includes:

As the digital media revolution seeps into every aspect of our lives, I think it’s inevitable that participatory culture will prevail in the long run. But the short run is a different story. I don’t share Lawrence Lessig’s famous pessimism, which earned him the sobriquet “the dean of darkness,” but as one looks out over the prospects for digital freedoms in today’s public policy arena, it’s hard to be optimistic.

Slyck News: Canadian Author Voices Opinion on Copyright

Slyck News ran an interview with techno-savvy novelist Lynda Williams:

Digital Rights Management schemes promoted by an anxious music industry, and other stakeholders alarmed by the internet, reduces the rights of consumers. I believe we need to find new commercial models, not enshrine old ones in law that are no longer "natural" due to changes in technology.

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