Thursday, March 03, 2005

So I've been neglecting you, blog

Well, actually, I haven't really been neglecting you, but you haven't been very nice to me. See, when I type for a long time, I would appreciate it if you would post what I am typing onto the internet, instead of saying, "Publishing in Progress" for freakin' hours at a time. That's really annoying. So here are abbreviated versions of what I was going to post earlier:

1. MGM v. Grokster is coming up before the Supreme Court soon, and I'm totally stoked about it. This is going to blow the roof off what you thought the Supreme Court was all about. Okay, maybe some of you aren't as nerdy as I am - the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) explains:
EFF is defending StreamCast Networks, the company behind the Morpheus peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software, in an important case that will be heard before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 29, 2005.

Twenty-eight of the world's largest entertainment companies brought the lawsuit against the makers of the Morpheus, Grokster, and KaZaA software products, aiming to set a precedent to use against other technology companies (P2P and otherwise). As we noted in our arguments before the Ninth Circuit, the case raises a question of critical importance at the border between copyright and innovation: When should the distributor of a multi-purpose tool be held liable for the infringements that may be committed by end-users of the tool?

The Supreme Court's landmark decision in Sony Corporation of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. (a.k.a. the "Sony Betamax ruling") held that a distributor cannot held liable for users' infringement so long as the tool is capable of substantial noninfringing uses. In MGM v. Grokster, the Ninth Circuit found that P2P file-sharing software is capable of, and is in fact being used for, noninfringing uses. Relying on the Betamax precedent, the court ruled that the distributors of Grokster and Morpheus software cannot be held liable for users' copyright violations. The plaintiffs appealed, and in December 2004 the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

"The copyright law principles set out in the Sony Betamax case have served innovators, copyright industries, and the public well for 20 years," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF's senior intellectual property attorney. "We at EFF look forward to the Supreme Court reaffirming the applicability of Betamax in the 21st century."
Although the EFF doesn't devolve into the scare tactics which I am so fond of, basically if Grokster doesn't win this case, the VCR / DVR which you hold so dear is now illegal, along with the copy machine at your office (quite capable of reproducing copyrighted materials), and even that ratty tape deck which you never use anymore, but you used when you were younger to record your favorite songs off the radio. It's all illegal. Sorry. I think it's important, but moving on...

EDIT: Almost forgot to share my favorite Amicus Curiae brief with you! I haven't really read that many of them, but this is an easy-to-read overview in legalese.

2. While almost everyone I know with a computer uses Google on a regular basis, not everyone knows how refined a search engine it can's a cheat sheet which can show you how to do all kinds of stuff...I, for one, had no idea that you could type in numbers to google like a calculator. If you're really feeling dorky, you can check out Google Labs, which is lots of products that google will be coming out with soon, like video search, scholarly journal search, text-message search, etc.

3. Need some new wallpaper for your computer? Check out this huge gallery of old-school hiphop posters. I must warn you, however...these take a long time to load.

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