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July 2003 Archives

July 2, 2003

what declan doesn't get (finally, we're back)

I'm relieved to find myself again in disagreement with Declan. In the simple world that images just two choices -- regulation or no regulation -- Declan thinks Microsoft is behaving inconsistently. Microsoft has argued (rightly and wrongly, depending upon the case, imho) against various examples of regulation. But Declan is now aghast to discover that Microsoft has been now lobbying to get the FCC to impose a different form of regulation. Oh my gosh! Imagine that!

The problem here is not Microsoft's. The problem is Declan, and the simple-isms that continue to reign in Declan-thought. No one serious opposes all regulation. No one serious supports all regulation. The only serious debate is whether a particular regulation makes sense.

The particular regulation that Microsoft has endorsed does, in my view, make lots of sense. As Microsoft described in FCC hearings, increasingly, cable companies are beginning to assert the right to decide which applications will run on their cable networks. Microsoft faced this when they tried to deploy Xbox technology. Tim Wu has other examples of this control here.

Declan quotes many who say, hey, no reason to worry. There's no good evidence that there is any significant discrimination -- yet.

But this is the part of this argument that convinces me Declan is spending too much time in Washington, and should go back to his CompSci roots. The issue here is not "regulation vs no regulation"; the issue here is the continued viability of any end-to-end architecture to the Internet.

If in fact networks are allowed to decide which applications and content can run on the network, then "the Internet" is dead. Sure, there will be a network out there -- the cable network, or whatever you want to call it -- but it will no longer be "the Internet" that Saltzer, Clark and Reed wrote about.

And, more importantly, and completely contrary to the non-thought that now reigns in Washington about this: the very possibility that this is the future of the Internet is having an effect on investment right now.

The point is obvious (save to those who inhale the DC air): Investments in technologies for the Internet are being made today, based upon the expectations about what the Internet will be in 3-5 years. If cable companies are allowed to decide what applications and content gets to run on that network, then the cost of innovation has been increased right now. If everyone with an Xbox technology needs permission to use the Internet, then what everyone should begin to recognize is that only Microsoft -- and others with their money and power -- will have permission to use the Net.

Maybe that's ok with Declan and the Cato types. After all, they're fighting for a principle -- "no regulation." Ah yes. "No regulation."

What planet do these guys come from?

MediaCon: Order released

The FCC has released its opinions in re the media concentration decision of June 2.

July 3, 2003

economic substance

The great thing about the early stages of a presidential campaign is that the candidate and campaign have time to put together real messages of substance. This speech by Edwards on economic policy is a perfect example of this contribution of substance. It is extraordinarily good.

how cc works

There's a great example of how Creative Commons works on its blog. A clip: "About a month after submitting a few acoustic guitar tracks to Opsound's sound pool [and thus releasing the song under an Attribution-ShareAlike license], I got an email from a violinist named Cora Beth, who had added a violin track�to one of the guitar tracks..."

This is getting very cool.

July 4, 2003

declaration of independence -- copyrighted

JD Lasica has a nice catch. Apparently, the Boston Globe has copyrighted the Declaration of Independence. But see 17 USC �506(c).

July 7, 2003

pandering to the anti-pandering crowd

I hate politicians who pander. I consider myself a member of the anti-pandering crowd. So it is refreshing to see a politician pander to the anti-pandering crowd by taking a strong stand on a matter of principle that will earn him negative votes and dollars from an important constituency.

This week's anti-panderer is Edwards. As Clay Risen writes in the New Republic, Edwards has come out strongly in favor of the expensing of stock options. This will hurt Silicon Valley firms (who wanted to record such options on balance sheets, and thus make it seem as if the firms were more profitable), but Edwards is plainly right about the policy. This issue is symptomatic of why Silicon Valley has been so awful at lobbying: TechNet, for example, has made this its primary policy objective. Yet of all the policies that would spur growth and innovation, special tax deals are the last that the Valley should be pushing.

Bravo for right policymaking, Senator Edwards. Maybe the Valley will learn something about what battles they ought to be fighting.

LXG -- more walt disney creativity

Eric Hughes sent me a great piece about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which will be released this Friday. As he points out, every character in the movie (which the ads call "the most innovative film of the summer," and "when our future is at stake, they will be our last hope") is a character in the public domain. As WALT Disney before (and as Disney, Inc has apparently forgotten now), the creators of this movie have used the public domain to produce creative new work. For those who defend the idea of (effectively) perpetual copyright: Do you think there would be more of these works if there were a gaggle of rights holders to clear permissions with?

Here is Eric's list of characters, with the caveat that this is a work in progress. Send corrections to me.

From Eric:

The movie is based on a wonderful comic by Alan Moore, the best comics author alive. I had read the original a few years ago, but now there's a film out. So I got curious about where Allan Moore got all the extraordinary gentlemen from. Here's the list.

Allan Quatermain: A character from H. Rider Haggard stories, the most famous of which is King Solomon's Mines, 1885. There's an interesting profile at here. King Solomon's Mines was written on a bet that he could write something better than Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Thomas Sawyer: Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, 1876. Huckleberry Finn came later. Character added for the movie; he's evidently the only American.

Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde: R. L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1886.

Captain Nemo: Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, 1870.

Rodney Skinner. H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man, 1897. I have been unable to confirm whether this was the character's name in the novel.

Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890.

Mycroft Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Greek Interpreter, 1892. I'm not sure if this is the first appearance or not.

Mina Murray Harker. Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897. Jonathan Harker's wife.

UPDATE: Seth helpfully provides the following additional links (and some corrections above)

Comic Book Annotations & Bibliographies

Annotations by Jess Nevins

July 8, 2003

two random questions

Two random questions I'd be grateful for a reply on. Reply to this disposable email address:

(1) Has anyone heard from Andrew Orlowski -- via email -- in the past six weeks?

(2) There's an ad running on some network with two guys at a bar talking about drug legalization. It is an anti-legalization ad. I'd be grateful for any help in tracking it down.

leaving the copyright lane for the public domain

Kim Scarborough sent this (warning: large mp3) wonderful radio show from the Columbia Workshop in 1937 about characters leaving the "copyright lane" for the "public domain." It is a brilliantly complex and funny tale that reveals an understanding about the value of the public domain that would be hard to recognize today.

July 12, 2003

A new guest blogger: Howard Dean

Yesterday, I completed a draft of a new book. Tomorrow, Bettina and I leave for our first vacation in a very long time (and, as we expect, the last vacation the two of us will take alone in a very long time).

So it is time for me to take a break from this space too. But I've arranged for a much more interesting guest blogger while I'm gone: former governor, and presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

This is, I believe, the first time a presidential candidate has been a guest blogger. But it is an obvious extension of blogs and the process of becoming President. Campaigns are all about meeting different groups and talking about ideas. Where better than a blog?

I have great respect for Governor Dean, and especially the clarity of his voice. I have even greater respect now that I see the doctor makes house calls. So Governor, welcome to this tiny server at Stanford: You'll find perfect acoustics provided by MovableType, and an interesting mix of views provided by the readers.

And to everyone else, enjoy the week of something totally different. Dean is on starting Monday. I should be back the week following.

One ground rule: I've had a policy of not editing comments of others, regardless of abusiveness. That is not my policy for my guests. You may disagree with the views you read here. But if you are reading them here, then you at least should respect the fact that they are being expressed here. It is important to me that blog-space everywhere become a place where more of this kind of conversation can occur. So trolls, please save your abuse for my return.

hey, listen to this

So one of the million things I've not had time to do while finishing this draft (answering a b'gillion emails is another) was to listen to this. As I described before, Colin Mutchler posted a guitar track to Opsound. Opsound makes its content available to others under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike license. Cora Beth, a 17 year old violinist, took the track and added a violin track. The result is this.

As Brian Flemming commented on the post, "a great way to illustrate the value of CC to someone who perhaps doesn�t quite get it." Indeed it is. Listen to this, and you'll can't help but get it.

July 14, 2003

Hello from Dean for America

Hello from the Dean for America campaign. Governor Howard Dean will be posting later today, here and at the official campaign blog, Blog for America. It's our policy that whenever Governor Dean posts anywhere on the Internet, his posts will also be crossposted to our site.

It�s been a busy day,

It�s been a busy day, but it�s great to blog here on Larry Lessig�s blog.

I�ll be writing all week, but if there�s a day I can�t make it, Joe Trippi, my campaign manager, will fill in for me. Thank you Professor Lessig for inviting me.

The Internet might soon be the last place where open dialogue occurs. One of the most dangerous things that has happened in the past few years is the deregulation of media ownership rules that began in 1996. Michael Powell and the Bush FCC are continuing that assault today (see the June 2nd ruling).

The danger of relaxing media ownership rules became clear to me when I saw what happened with the Dixie Chicks. But there�s an even bigger danger in the future, on the Internet. The FCC recently ruled that cable and phone based broadband providers be classified as information rather than telecommunications services. This is the first step in a process that could allow Internet providers to arbitrarily limit the content that users can access. The phone and cable industries could have the power to discriminate against content that they don�t control or-- even worse-- simply don�t like.

The media conglomerates now dominate almost half of the markets around the country, meaning Americans get less independent and frequently less dependable news, views and information. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson spoke of the fear that economic power would one day try to seize political power. No consolidated economic power has more opportunity to do this than the consolidated power of media.

Guest Post by Howard Dean

The post below is from Governor Howard Dean. You can check out the crossposting and commentary at www.blogforamerica.com and read more about Howard Dean at www.deanforamerica.com. Thanks!-- Matt, Zephyr and Nicco, Dean Internet Team

July 15, 2003

From Governor Dean

Thanks for all the comments on the blog last night. I haven�t had a chance to read all of the comments� we flew up from Miami to DC last night. But I will read them.

Let me be perfectly honest. In the space of this week on the blog, I will not be able to answer every specific question. I know that people here care deeply about intellectual property. I�m here to listen.

As a doctor, I�m trained to base my decisions on facts. This President never adequately laid out the facts for going to war with Iraq�perhaps, as it turns out, because the facts were not there. I opposed the war not because I�m a pacifist�I�m not�but because the evidence presented did not justify preemptive war. I opposed needle exchanges for drug addicts until I saw the empirical evidence that showed how such exchanges reduce the spread of disease. I changed my position, and I�m proud of that. Facts are a better basis for decisions than ideology.

No matter what the issues are that we as individuals care most about-- whether intellectual property, healthy care, the environment � I believe that the only way we are ever going to come to a real solution on any of these issues is if we all stand together against the special interests in Washington. There are now 33 lobbyists for every member of congress. How do we change that? By working together. One of the amazing things about this campaign is how the Internet has allowed people to meet and work together in common cause. Only by taking an active part in our democracy will we be able to restore a government of, by and for the people.

Thanks again, Howard Dean

From Governor Dean

Thanks for the many, many comments. We've just arrived back to Vermont after six days on the road. I appreciate all the feedback. People asked what can be done about media deregulation. I think we need to re-regulate the media that has clearly abused its authority by censoring information that should be made available to the American people. Someone asked about the Patriot Act-we should repeal those parts that violate our constitution.

In the second quarter, our campaign had over 73,000 donors. We have over 60,000 people on Meetup. Every one of them is making a difference. If everyone gets involved, we can change the political process in this country and prove there is a better way to change the country. That is what this campaign is about.

Thanks again, Howard Dean

July 16, 2003

From Burlington

I recognize that the blog entries have been quick. I�m new to blogging, a little tired, and have been on the road. This is the first time this week where I�ve had a little more time to really sit down and digest some of the comments.

I'm really impressed by the candor on this blog, and the complexity of the discussions.

Someone asked which parts of the Patriot Act I thought were unconstitutional. I have real problems authorizing the FBI to obtain library and bookstore and video store records simply by claiming the information is "sought for" an investigation against international terrorism. It's also clearly unconstitutional to detain indivduals and deny them access to a lawyer.

As to Digitial Millenium Copyright Act and other copyright issues, we're still developing a policy on these items. I appreciate everything you have had to say on these issues, and encourage you to continue to tell my campaign how you feel we should best address these complex issues.

Finally, one of you asked if there would be a White House blog. Why not?

Thanks again, Howard Dean

July 17, 2003

Hello from Dean for America

Governor Dean won't be able to post today due to scheduling, and Joe Trippi is still on an airplane, so it looks like he won't either. Thanks for all your comments -- every visitor here is welcome over at Blog for America, our official campaign blog. The conversation here is riveting.

Tomorrow is Governor Dean's last day here, so feel free to keep making suggestions and hashing it out in this thread. We're all big Lessig fans on the Internet Team, and it has been, as many have said, an historic week. Lessig quotes EFF founder Mitch Kapor as saying "Architecture is politics." For me, what is so powerful about this campaign is how the Internet is completely changing the architecture of politics. We talk alot about how the energy and momentum is bottom-up, but I think what sometimes gets lost is how the innovation is bottom-up and person-to-person as well (or e2e as Lessig might say). The results of self-organizing are not only more people, but more ideas about how to do local politics. The idea of sending 30,000 letters to Iowa at the last Dean Meetup came from the grassroots, and that has been reported. What hasn't been reported is that most of the Dean flyers that people are passing out at farmers markets and summer fairs around the country are put together by grassroots organizers working through the Net. Independently of the official campaign, a Seattle group thinks of a flyer idea, which a New York group designs, which they circulate through the Dean listservs, which gets stapled to a Bulletin Board in Missouri by a group of Dean supporters who met through the Internet. A Georgia group designs "Dean Cards," which are now spreading around the country. 10 years ago, so many of these ideas would have stayed just that -- the person with the flyer idea would have turned to her spouse, mentioned the idea, and gone to work. Now that same "mention" - except through the Net - can lead to tens of thousands of flyers all over the country. We've still got a long way to go in terms of building an architecture that allows even more person to person to group connections - and the resulting innovation - but what's amazing about this campaign (from the inside) is how Joe Trippi and the entire campaign is not only willing to allow that innovation to thrive, but believes it is essential to restoring our democracy.

Zephyr Teachout
Internet Team, Dean for America

July 18, 2003

From Governor Dean

On the road, I�ve seen the power the Internet has to bring people together. In Austin recently, 3,200 people showed up for a rally�an experience that I found absolutely amazing. In Santa Fe, 2,000 people showed up, and in Seattle and Tucson, thousands showed up. All of these rallies were organized over the Internet. Only a few years ago building such an event would have taken months of preparation and a huge field staff. Today, it can be done online, and mostly by volunteers.

I think that is a demonstration of how the Internet can help us restore active participation in our democracy. But in order to include everyone in the process, we need to expand net access to rural areas and to the inner city. Currently, too many minorities and rural residents are on the wrong side of the "digital divide."

As governor of Vermont, I made expanding internet access a priority. Vermont is a national leader, with over 99% of our schools connected to the Internet. In rural states like Vermont, the Internet can make a real difference by providing telemedicine and telework opportunities, as well as distance learning.

As a community that actively discusses these issues, I�m interested in your opinions on how to best bridge the digital divide. The US ranks 11th in the world on broadband penetration. How do we bring broadband to more people in the most cost-effective manner? What role will WiFi play? I understand that the emerging technology of WiFi may make it easier to bridge the digital divide. What would your recommendations be?

Once again, I�d like to thank Larry Lessig for inviting me this week, and I appreciate your feedback. Stay involved. Help us widen the circle. We are going to restore the American community�online and off�by working together. Thanks again, Howard Dean

July 20, 2003

our times: the battles of John Gilmore

John Gilmore wrote Declan a letter about an extraordinary measure of our times. Gist: John was wearing a "Suspected Terrorist" button on a flight to London. BA turned the airplane around on the ground and returned to the terminal to enable the captain to eject him. Read the full story.

July 21, 2003

almost back; thanks to the Governor

I'm almost back after a week away (we're moving this week so I'm not really back till the 28th), but I wanted to thank the Governor for visiting. I have read his posts, and the couple by his campaign, and have just begun to go through the comments.

The appearance by Governor Dean here has created lots of excitement, some stir, and a bit of anger. I've been requested by the University to move my blog to a personal server, which is fine and right given FEC regulations. I've been asked by many (and especially supporters of Senator Edwards) whether Dean's appearance means an endorsement.

But that's just what was perfect about how this week happened. The Dean campaign asked for no endorsement. Indeed, they asked for nothing save the right to substitute if the Governor didn't have a chance to post. Rather than the drama of an irrelevant endorsement, this week instead was a chance to expand the places a candidate visits in a campaign for public office. It is better than a house, better than a town hall, better than anything on TV. And imho, more candidates should do it regularly.

I invited Dean in particular because so much of the success of his campaign has come from those who spend time on the Internet, and I suggested that the mix who spent time at my blog had a valuable set of insights that might be useful to understanding the issues that rage on these pages.

But as I've said before, these issues are not the central issues of a presidential campaign (yet, anyway). And necessarily, any attention a presidential campaign gives to these issues will be for the purpose of learning. No one launches a campaign for President in 2004 with the aim to "free culture" or limit the excesses of creative regulation. These issues are important. Every administration will have to address them. But they do not yet define a campaign or its message. (We'll see about 2008.)

So obviously, I would be honored to have other candidates take a week here if they want. But whether it is here or elsewhere, every serious candidate should spend time in just such an open, egalitarian place. Everyone now recognizes that the leading Democratic candidate is the leading candidate in part because of how his message spreads in places like this. They should all find places where they can do the same -- unprotected by handlers, exposed to many with strong and deep knowledge of a subject, and open to fair criticism. Let there be one week on a blog for every five choreographed "town halls", and we'll begin to see something interesting.

Neutrality aside, though, Governor Dean has earned a special respect. Of course there are issues on which I would disagree with anyone. But I have been struck in reading these posts, and the passion they inspired. They revive a feeling I had as a kid -- that ideas could matter, and that there could be people who would make them matter.

They matter here not so much because of the detail of any response, but because of the willingness to carry a message to places like this, and because of the effect these places have on those who spend time in them. If I've learned anything as I've watched places like this, it is that the best strategy is always simply to say what is right and true, trolls notwithstanding.

Our democracy needs more of this. It needs more candidates spending time in places like this. I am therefore grateful to the Governor for taking the lead. We should all be grateful, our personal politics notwithstanding, if more follow.

LXG: more and more informed than I was

Newsweek's Brad Stone has a great piece about LXG.

Free culture.

July 26, 2003

music, cc style

More CC music. Check out this blog entry from Creative Commons. Two musicians, Shannon Campbell and Scott Andrew are writing a song together over the next 24 hours, as part of a blogathon to help Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. Each verse is being released as it is complete -- free under a CC license.

lessig blog, moved

So after the FUD about the FEC, EFF's Marc Perkel has volunteered to host lessig.org and my blog. Thanks to all things EFF and especially Marc, and thanks to Jake Wachman and Patrick Berry for the extraordinary effort moving the site. Please update your links, if you want to keep following the thread, to http://lessig.org/blog, and RSS is here.

More on the FEC after I catch up, but thanks to Marc, Jake and Patrick again.

July 27, 2003

creativity when the control freaks sleep

This is a great story about the creativity possible when control is relaxed. Whenever I read these stories, I have an odd dejavu to the days of Gorbachev: The Soviet Union would relax its controls, and people would write stories about how freedom actually increased innovation and creativity. The Soviet officials were amazed and surprised. But what's amazing to me is that we're surprised when we learn the same thing here.

UPDATE: I was whining about something re the Times that Dave Winer has solved. I apologize.

July 29, 2003

re-creativity continues

The Pet Rock Stars have completed two songs from the blogathon. As previously reported, the work in progress, and the final songs were posted under a Creative Commons license. Within a day, their creativity has sparked other creativity. Erik Ostrom has posted a cover of Southdown, one of the two songs the Pet Rock Stars wrote. Here are the two songs Shannon Campbell and Scott Andrew wrote: Southdown and Nothing New. Here's Scott's take on all this re-creativity. And here is the song Erik Ostrom made: Stork Carpets.