copyright and censorship

Bill has an excellent post on the RIAA peer-to-peer trial, so I am only going to add the following comparison as food for thought. The U.S. being the land of the freedom, and China being the authoritarian country that censors its media – how come the case of the Minnesota woman being fined $220,000 for uploading 24 songs reminds me so much of the Chinese proverb “Killing The Chicken To Scare the Monkey“? The RIAA and the Chinese government make for some strange bedfellows ..

What Net Neutrality Might Mean in Practice

Discussions about Net Neutrality are oftentimes hard to follow, mostly because it is not always clear what exactly the concept ‘Net Neutrality’ means. That’s why it’s helpful to have a concrete example, and as such is offered by a situation across the pond: recently British newspapers have reported that several large ISPs in the UK have threatened to shutdown access to videos the BBC offers online, because these videos could take up too much bandwidth. They will shutdown access to the BBC videos, unless of course, the BBC pays the ISPs. What is forgotten is that customers of the ISPs already have paid for the use of this bandwidth.

Bloggers Code of Conduct

Tim O’Reilly proposes a Bloggers Code of Conduct

The code of conduct comes in the wake of death threats sent to Kate Sierra, who as a result cancelled a public appearance and suspended her blog. Sending death threats to someone is obviously unacceptable behavior and measures should be taken against it. Having said that, I am not so sure a ‘bloggers code of conduct’ is the right measure to combat this problem. First, to what extent is the problem exclusive to the domain of blogging and the blogosphere? By having a specific ‘bloggers code of conduct’ it gives off the idea that it is ‘blogging’ that is problematic. Blogs obviously have a facilitating role, but the key question is whether it is a crucial facilitating role (I think probably not, death threats have been made without the use of blogs). Instead of making this into an issue of bloggers and blogging, I suggest it is probably more a general free speech issue, and we already have plenty of (legal, social) instruments to regulate unacceptable speech.

One of the more controversial parts of the code of conduct is that it does not allow for anonymous comments, and it reminds me of the controversy surrounding the required registration for blogs in China.  Perhaps we can compare arguments in these two debates – what arguments were used to argue against registration for blogs in China and do these arguments hold up when it comes to disallowing anonymous comments on blogs?

Thinner – or, how a music label also can look like

Thinner is a German electronic music label that has been distributing MP3 files since 2001, with all tracks licensed under Creative Commons (Attrib-NoDerivs-NonCommercial).

It’s nice to find labels like these that seek to distribute good music around the world. More labels that distribute music online can be found on their links page. (dibs to Christoph for the heads up).

(and I really should go back to writing my paper..)

the great firewall of the US

Rebecca MacKinnon reports about possible U.S. Military censorship, and warns us for the slippery slope we have started.

A couple of thousand years ago, the Chinese built the Great Wall to keep the hordes of barbarians out. Fast forward to now: the Chinese have been building the Great Firewall to keep ‘unhealthy’ information out.

What is the US learning from the ancient and wise Chinese? First, we are now also building our own Great Wall to prevent the hordes of Mexicans from invading the US. And the second great lesson the US is learning from the Chinese: the US military is also building its Great Firewall (now still reiatively tiny, but that is what a slippery slope is for – and isn’t after all everything bigger and greater in the US? ). Perhaps the Chinese should consider applying a patent for the Great Fire/Wall.

the NSA wiretapping program ruled unconstitutional

This blog is not all about bad news! Judge Anna Diggs Taylor from Detroit is the first judge to rule about the legality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program – it was justified as necessary for battling terrorism but is now found to violate the rights to free speech, privacy as well as the separation of powers, as protected by the US Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) succesfully fought in this case of ACLU vs NSA – good thing to see that my money donated to ACLU, even though I am not even an American citizen, is being used properly.

In layman terms: the NSA cannot just randomly wiretap citizens without going through the formal procedures that have been established a long time before there was a war on terror.

More indepth legal analysis and the ramifications of this case by Derek Bambauer of Info/Law, Susan Crawford, and Jack Balkin. Professor Balkin also graciously hosts the opinion and the order.