Archive for the 'Digital Culture' Category

U.S. Computer Science Bachelors Graduates Drop to Decade Low, but New Enrollments Up Slightly

Posted in Digital Culture on March 5th, 2008

In 2006-2007, there were only 8,021 computer science bachelors degree graduates in the U.S., down from the decade peak of 14,185 in 2003-2004; however, new enrollments edged up slightly to 7,915 for the 2007 fall semester.

Read more about it at "'Chic Geek': Computer Science Major Rebounds" and "Computer Science Graduating Class of 2007 Smallest This Decade."

Lessig’s Final Free Culture Speech

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on February 24th, 2008

Lawrence Lessig delivered his last speech on free culture on January 31, 2008 at Stanford University. A digital video is available on blip.tv.

You can follow Lessig's new Change Congress activities, including a possible run for Congress, on his Lessig08 Weblog.

Double Trouble: New Application Strips DRM from Music Files

Posted in Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Digital Rights Management on February 20th, 2008

DRM nemesis DVD Jon (Jon Lech Johansen) has released doubleTwist, a user-friendly application that strips DRM from digital music files.

Read more about it at "doubleTwist Makes DRM-Stripping, Sharing Easy as Pie," "'DVD Jon' Frees Your Media with DoubleTwist," and "Free Your Media With DoubleTwist, a DRM Stripping App Anyone Can Use."

House Passes College Opportunity and Affordability Act with File-Sharing Provision Intact

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on February 8th, 2008

Despite lobbying by EDUCAUSE and others, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed, 354 to 58, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act with its Sec. 494 illegal file sharing provision intact.

Here's the provision:

SEC. 494. CAMPUS-BASED DIGITAL THEFT PREVENTION.

(a) In General— Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title shall to the extent practicable—

(1) make publicly available to their students and employees, the policies and procedures related to the illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials required to be disclosed under section 485(a)(1)(P); and

(2) develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.

(b) Grants—

(1) PROGRAM AUTHORITY— The Secretary may make grants to institutions of higher education, or consortia of such institutions, and enter into contracts with such institutions, consortia, and other organizations, to develop, implement, operate, improve, and disseminate programs of prevention, education, and cost-effective technological solutions, to reduce and eliminate the illegal downloading and distribution of intellectual property. Such grants or contracts may also be used for the support of a higher education centers that will provide training, technical assistance, evaluation, dissemination, and associated services and assistance to the higher education community as determined by the Secretary and institutions of higher education.

(2) AWARDS— Grants and contracts shall be awarded under paragraph (1) on a competitive basis.

(3) APPLICATIONS— An institution of higher education or a consortium of such institutions that desires to receive a grant or contract under paragraph (1) shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing or accompanied by such information as the Secretary may reasonably require by regulation.

(4) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS— There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009 and for each of the 4 succeeding fiscal years.

Read more about it at: "Controversial College Funding Bill Passed—P2P Proviso Intact," "Educause Lobbies Against Piracy Measure in House Bill," "House, Focusing on Cost, Approves Higher Education Act," and "House Approves MPAA-Backed College Antipiracy Rules."

Danish Court Orders Nordic ISP to Block Access to Torrent Search Engine Pirate Bay

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on February 6th, 2008

Tele2, a major Nordic ISP, must block its customers access to torrent search engine The Pirate Bay due to a Danish court order. Recently, four persons associated with The Pirate Bay were charged with assisting copyright infringement.

Read more about it at "Danish ISP Shuts Access to File-Sharing Pirate Bay," "Pirate Bay Admins Charged with Assisting Copyright Infringement," "Pirate Bay: Big Revenue Claims Fabricated by Prosecutors," "The Pirate Bay Fights Danish ISP Block," and "Pirate Bay Future Uncertain after Operators Busted."

Three Strikes and You're Out: A Kinder, Gentler Internet Disconnection Policy Emerges in France

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on January 29th, 2008

Last November, it was reported that France intended to cut off Internet access to illegal downloaders after one warning from their ISP and a second offense. Now, it appears that violators will receive two warnings from the government, with a service cut-off after the third offense. Action on the bill is expected this summer.

Read more about it at "France as Big Music Copyright Cop," "France's Plan to Turn ISPs into Copyright Cops on Track," and "French Plan E-Mail Warnings for Illegal Downloads."

Copyright Troubles for SeeqPod and The Pirate Bay Search Engines

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on January 28th, 2008

It is anticipated that the Swedish government will soon charge The Pirate Bay, a torrent search engine, with copyright violations. The Pirate Bay has received over 4,000 pages of evidence related to possible violations from the government. It has been reported that The Pirate Bay serves as many as 10 million peer computers, providing access to about one million torrents.

This news comes hard on the heels of Warner Music Group's suit against SeeqPod, a digital music search engine. The SeeqPod case will likely be determined by the court's interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" provision, with SeeqPod claiming immunity and Warner claiming that it does not apply.

Read more about it at "Do Search Engines Promote Piracy?," "Latest Test for DMCA Safe Harbors: Warner Sues SeeqPod," "The Pirate Bay Now Tracks 1 Million Torrents, 10 Million Peers," "Swedish Prosecutors Close in on The Pirate Bay," "Swedish Prosecutors Dump 4,000 Legal Docs on The Pirate Bay," "Sweden to Charge Pirate Bay in Copyright Case," "Warner Sues Music Search Engine SeeqPod," and "Warner Sues 'Playable Search Engine,' Tests DMCA Safe Harbor."

MPAA Now Says That College Students Account for 15%, Not 44%, of Illegal Movie Downloads

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on January 24th, 2008

The Motion Picture Association of America has said that a 2005 study that claimed that college students accounted for 44% of illegal downloads of movies is incorrect: the correct number is 15%. The MPAA had used the higher figure to argue for measures that would address higher education downloading abuse.

Meanwhile, the EFF Deeplinks blog is reminding its readers ("Troubling 'Digital Theft Prevention' Requirements Remain in Higher Education Bill) that the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which the House may take up in February, still contains this wording asking institutions to "develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity."

Read more about it at: "Downloading by Students Overstated," "MPAA Admits Mistake on Downloading Study," "Oops: MPAA Admits College Piracy Numbers Grossly Inflated," and "Why the MPAA and RIAA Can't Stand College Students."

Copy Belgium: Canadian Recording Industry Association Asks for Copyright Filtering of the Internet

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Net Neutrality on January 22nd, 2008

According to "Canadian Copyright Lobby Seeking Mandated ISP Filtering," the Canadian Recording Industry Association is asking the Canadian government to consider copyright filtering of the Internet.

Here's an excerpt:

[CRIA's] Henderson cites with approval several initiatives to move toward ISP filtering of content, pointing to a French report, comments from the UK that such legislation could be forthcoming, and the AT&T negotiations in the U.S. Later in the conversation, the group is asked what their dream legislation would look like. The first response? ISP liability, with the respondent pointing to Belgium as an example of an ideal model ("the file sharing issue will go away there as ISPs take down people"). Last summer, a Belgian court ordered an ISP to install filtering software to identify and block copyrighted content (the decision is currently being appealed).

If this reflects the current strategy—and there is reason to believe it does—it marks a dramatic change in the lobbying efforts. It suggests that not only are these groups seeking a Canadian DMCA, but they would like Industry Minister Jim Prentice to go even further by enacting constitutionally-dubious legislation requiring ISPs to identify and filter out content that is alleged to infringe copyright.

Hello Internet Meter: Time Warner Cable to Test Usage-Based Internet Fees

Posted in Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Net Neutrality on January 18th, 2008

The number two ISP in the U.S., Time Warner Cable, will test charging Beaumont, Texas users based on the level of their downloading activity.

Read more about it at "Time Warner: Download Too Much and You Might Pay $30 a Movie," "Time Warner Links Web Prices with Usage," "Time Warner Metered Pricing: Not the Solution," and "Time Warner to Test Metered Web Use."

Tim Wu vs. Rick Cotton on Copyright

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on January 18th, 2008

The New York Times Bits blog running run an interesting debate this week between Tim Wu, Professor of Law at the Columbia Law School, and Rick Cotton, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, NBC Universal, about copyright issues.

Postings so far include:

Goodbye Digital Music DRM, Goodbye RIAA?, and Hello Music Watermarking

Posted in Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Digital Media, Digital Rights Management on January 13th, 2008

SONY BMG has moved beyond experimenting with non-DRM-protected music tracks and indicated that its entire catalog will be available as MP3s from Amazon by the end of the month. SONY BMG is the last of the "big four" music labels to offer MP3s via Amazon (the others are the EMI Group, the Universal Music Group, and the Warner Music Group). Napster has also announced that it will offer MP3s for sale this spring (its subscription service will still use DRM). It would appear that the DRM era for digital music is coming to a close.

Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that the RIAA is endangered due to a potential withdrawal of funding from the EMI Group.

The decline of digital music DRM does not mean that the labels have given up the fight to stem the tide of illegal downloads. MP3s from Sony and Universal include "anonymous" watermarks that allow them to be traced as they move through the Internet to provide infringement data for music labels and to potentially allow filtering by ISPs.

Nor does the decline of digital music DRM mean that Hollywood will quickly follow, avoiding the mistakes of the music industry.

Read more about it at "DRM Is Dead, but Watermarks Rise from Its Ashes," "Napster to Sell DRM-Free Downloads," "Sony Joins Other Labels on Amazon MP3 Store," and "Under Pressure from EMI, RIAA Could Disappear."

After Months as a Pay-What-You-Want Download, Radiohead's Album Tops the Charts

Posted in Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on January 11th, 2008

After being available for three months as a pay-what-you-want MP3 download, Radiohead's In Rainbows album has topped the charts in the U.S., Canada, France, Japan, and Ireland in CD and vinyl formats.

Read more about it at "Radiohead Finds Sales, Even After Downloads," "Radiohead's 'Rainbows' Hits No. 1," and "Radiohead's Web Album No 1 in US."

The RIAA and CD Ripping for Personal Use: Infringement or Not?

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on January 10th, 2008

Recently, there has been a flurry of articles about the RIAA's stance on the legality of CD ripping for personal use that was triggered by a Washington Post article ("Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use") that was later corrected. The controversy resulted in a debate on National Public Radio between the article's author and RIAA's president (Cary Sherman). In it, Sherman would not say that CD ripping for personal use was legal, but he did say: "Not a single (legal) case has ever been brought (by the RIAA against someone for copying music for personal use)."

Just as the dust seemed to be settling, Wired Blog Network has published "RIAA Believes MP3s Are A Crime: Why This Matters—Updated," takes another look at what the RIAA has said on the issue, and concludes "The RIAA doesn't believe Americans have any right—or Fair Use legal defense—to play copyrighted material on the device and in the format of their choosing."

UK May Make CD Ripping for Legal in Some Cases

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on January 9th, 2008

Did you know that ripping MP3 files from CDs was illegal in the UK? The good news (for a change) is that Lord Triesman, Minister for Intellectual Property, has initiated an IP reform consultation that may result in making CD ripping legal for distance education, personal use, parody, and preservation purposes.

Read more about it at "Proposal to Make CD Copying Legal," "UK Issues Public Consultation on More Flexible Copyright," "U.K. Looks to Relax Restrictive Copyright Laws," and "UK Wants to Make CD Rips Legal (at Last)."

Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Digital Media, Social Media on January 8th, 2008

American University's Center for Social Media has released Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video, which examines fair use issues in user-created digital videos. See the announcement for links to videos used in the report.

Here's an excerpt from the "Next Steps" section:

The effervescence of this moment at the dawn of participatory media should not be mistaken for triviality. The practices of today’s online creators are harbingers of a far more interactive media era. Today’s makers—feckless, impudent, brash, and extravagant as they often are—in fact are the pioneers of an emerging media economy and society. Recognition of the importance of fair use, within the copyright law toolkit for cultural creation, is both prudent and forward-looking for those concerned with maintaining an open society.

Sony BMG, Last of the Big Music Labels to Use DRM, Drops It for Some Albums

Posted in Digital Culture, Digital Rights Management on January 7th, 2008

According to "Sony BMG to Sell DRM-Free Music Downloads through Stores," Sony BMG will join EMI, Vivendi's Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group in offering DRM-free MP3 tracks. Initially, this will be for a small number of albums, and it will require that buyers purchase a card at a retail store. In 2005, Sony BMG was embroiled in a major controversy about its use of DRM software.

Read more about it at "Digital Music: 2007 Year in Review," "Labels See New Online Music Options," "Sony BMG Cautiously Exploring DRM-Free Future," and "Sony BMG Plans to Drop DRM."

IFPI Wants European ISPs to Filter/Block the Internet

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Net Neutrality, P2P File Sharing on December 10th, 2007

The International Federation of Phonographic Industries has sent a letter to European ISPs asking them to filter unlicensed audio files based on digital fingerprints, to block "objectionable" peer-to-peer downloading services, and to block "infringing" Websites.

Read more about it at "IFPI's European Christmas List: Content Filtering and P2P Blocking" and "Music Industry Pressures EU Politicians for Filtered Internet."

Will Libraries and Other Wi-Fi Access Point Owners Have to Report Known Child Porn under the SAFE Act?

Posted in Digital Culture, Internet Regulation on December 8th, 2007

The rapid passage of the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act of 2007 (SAFE Act) in the U.S. House of Representatives has left confusion and controversy in its wake about whether the owners of public Wi-Fi access points must report digital child pornography that they are aware of to the CyberTipline of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or face massive fines. It appears that this was not the intent of the bill's authors, but the wording of the bill could be interpreted by courts to include libraries and other public Wi-Fi access point owners: "Whoever, while engaged in providing an electronic communication service or a remote computing service to the public through a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce . . ."

Read more about it at "House Vote on Illegal Images Sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web Sites"; "SAFE Act Won't Turn Mom-and-Pop Shops into WiFi Cops"; and "Wi-Fi 'Illegal Images' Politician Defends Legislation."

Only 50,000 Signatures Needed for Referendum on New Swiss DMCA-Style Copyright Law

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Digital Rights Management on December 4th, 2007

Florian Bösch is organizing a petition drive to put Switzerland's new DMCA-style copyright law to a referendum at the No Swiss DMCA website. Only 50,000 signatures are needed, but they must be collected before January 24, 2008.

Read more about it at "DMCA-Style Laws Coming to Canada, Switzerland"; "Swiss DMCA Coming Down—50,000 Signatures Needed to Unmake It"; "Swiss DMCA Petition—50,000 Signatures Will Kill Switzerland's Copyright Law"; and "Swiss DMCA Quietly Adopted."

MPAA Takes Down the MPA University Toolkit Because of GNU GPL Legal Issues

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Privacy on December 3rd, 2007

Slashdot reports that the Motion Picture of Association of America has removed the MPA University Toolkit software from the software's website after Matthew Garrett contacted the MPAA's ISP indicating that the software violated the GNU GPL. Garrett had attempted to contact the MPAA directly, but it was unresponsive. Currently, only Toolkit documentation remains on the website.

30 Ways to Fight the Canadian DMCA

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Digital Rights Management on December 3rd, 2007

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, has posted "The Canadian DMCA: What You Can Do," which presents 30 ways that Canadians can fight upcoming DMCA-style copyright legislation. It also includes a YouTube video on this topic.

Pepsi/Amazon May Give Away a Billion MP3 Tracks (and Other Bad News for DRM)

Posted in Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Digital Rights Management on December 2nd, 2007

According to Billboard, Pepsi and Amazon may start a promotion campaign during the upcoming Super Bowl that could give away as many as one billion MP3 tracks. It is also rumored that Wal-Mart will soon drop DRM-protected tracks in favor of the MP3 format. In reaction to these developments and the current availability of MP3s from EMI and Universal Music Group (this is a test), the Warner Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment may consider distributing MP3s as well.

Read more about it at "Amazon 1 Billion MP3 Giveaway Offer; Under Pressure, Labels Warm To DRM-free Format" and "DRM Deathwatch: Sony, Wal-Mart."

New York Public Library Makes 600,000 Digital Images Available to Kaltura Users

Posted in ARL Libraries, Digital Archives and Special Collections, Digital Culture, Digital Media, Research Libraries, Social Media on November 30th, 2007

The New York Public Library has made its collection of 600,000 digital images available for use by Kaltura users. Kaltura is a free, online collaborative video production site.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The New York Public Library and Kaltura, Inc., a pioneer in Collaborative Media, announced today that the organizations have joined forces to further enhance online rich-media collaboration. The New York Public Library's treasure trove of 600,000 digital images can now be incorporated easily into Kaltura's group video projects. The library's digital collection includes a wide range of rare and unique images drawn from its research collections. These range from Civil War photographs and illuminated Medieval manuscripts to historic views of New York City, Yiddish theatre placards and 19th Century restaurant menus. Users can search, preview and add these library images directly from the Kaltura web site (To try it, go to http://www.kaltura.com, click 'start a kaltura').

"Kaltura is a good fit for The New York Public Library as we work to take advantage of the latest technologies and approaches to make our collection freely and widely accessible," said Joshua M. Greenberg, Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship at The New York Public Library. "We are excited to enable the use of our extensive Digital Gallery of historical images in Kaltura's cutting-edge and innovative application. Working with Kaltura was a natural step in enabling the creative use of these rich materials in the broader online world."

Kaltura enables groups of users to collaborate in the creation of videos and slideshows, similar to the way in which Wiki platforms allow users to collaborate with text. When creating a Kaltura video, users can upload their own videos, photos, audio and animation, can import their previously uploaded material from MySpace, Photobucket or YouTube, or they can access and import rich-media from various public-domain and CreativeCommons sources such as Flickr, CCMixter, Jamendo, and now The New York Public Library. Kaltura aims to team with additional databases and digital resource partners in order to both provide users with the widest array of rich-media, and to provide its resource partners with access to Kaltura's Global Network of users, content, and services that allows unprecedented collaboration around rich-media creation, remixing and distribution.

"We strive to provide users with the most comprehensive, enjoyable and user-friendly experience possible when creating their collaborative Kalturas in a fun, safe, and legal environment; The New York Public Library database is a huge addition to resources that we offer, both in terms of its size and the great value that it brings," said Ron Yekutiel, Chairman and CEO of Kaltura.

"Kaltura was built around the principles of openness and sharing with the mission to enhance collaboration and to lower the barriers of participation—it is through partners with a similar vision, like The New York Public Library, that we can achieve our goal of delivering the world's first open platform for peer production of rich media, with the broadest access to rich-media materials, resources and databases," Yekutiel added. "We are truly honored by this collaboration."

Two Strikes and You're Out: France Plans to Disconnect Digital Pirates from the Internet

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on November 26th, 2007

The French Ministry of Culture has proposed a number of measures to deal with illegal downloading on the Internet, including a controversial proposal to terminate accused pirates' Internet access after two downloading violations.

Here's an excerpt from "French Gov't Plans to Disconnect Content Pirates":

The government has won agreement for its latest proposals from the French media industry, which will implement the watermarking measures and make legal downloads of films more widely and rapidly available. Albanel signed the agreement Friday with TV channels, Internet service providers (ISPs), and groups representing filmmakers, authors and musicians rights groups.

In return for the support of these organizations, the government will create a new agency to monitor Internet traffic for the presence of watermarked files and handle complaints from rights holders. Anyone whose Internet connection is used to download such files could receive an official warning from their ISP. A second offense could result in their contract with the ISP being terminated and their name being added to a registry of offenders.

Read more about it at "The Insanity of France's Anti-File-Sharing Plan: L'État, C'Est IFPI," "French Pact Aims to Fight Unauthorized Downloading," and "Pirates Face Crackdown over Movie Downloads."


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