Archive | August, 2004

Grokster decision: ‘prudent for court to exercise caution’

Dan Gillmor’s eJournal notes “Important Copyright Ruling Favors Freedom. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has upheld the Grokster decision,
in which a peer-to-peer file-sharing service was ruled not to be
violating copyright law. In that decision, a federal judge ruled,
essentially, that a product that has legitimate uses can’t be deemed
illegal because some people use it for unlawful purposes.
The appeals panel’s ruling (PDF) makes vital points including these:

Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what
they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the
reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright
infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding
precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would
satisfy the Copyright Owners’ immediate economic aims. However, it
would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown
ultimate consequences outside the present context.
Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological
environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet
innovation. AT&T Corp. v. City of Portland, 216 F.3d 871, 876 (9th
Cir. 1999). The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to
old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are
sold through well established distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has
shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in
balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a
copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a
karaoke machine, or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to
exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the
purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent
present magnitude.”

“This is an important ruling, and let’s hope its logic spreads widely.

(Via Michael Geist via Interesting People.)

Those who fail to learn from history invent their own

Dan Gillmor’s eJournal journals How History Gets Twisted. “A short way into this review of a new book about Microsoft, a Boston Globe correspondent writes:

guilty finding was overturned on appeal, and the government settled
with the company, imposing restrictions on its business practices. The
resulting introspection persuaded Gates to stand aside as chief
executive in favor of Steve Ballmer, who would be his partner in
remaking the company.”

“The number of misstatements in just these two sentences is fairly amazing.

  • The judge’s ruling that Microsoft had repeatedly violated the law
    was not overturned. (And there are no “guilty” or “not guilty” findings
    in civil antitrust cases to start with; this wasn’t a criminal matter,
    though it probably should have been.) The appeals court specifically
    agreed with Judge Jackson that Microsoft was a serial offender, though
    it did back Microsoft’s position in a small portion of the charges.
  • The Bush administration’s “settlement” was a cave-in, giving back what it had already won in court.
  • The “impositions” on Microsoft’s business practices are widely
    seen outside the company (and probably inside) as next to meaningless,
    and certainly haven’t had any visible effect on competition in an
    industry that Microsoft still controls.
  • Ballmer became CEO in 2000, before Judge Jackson
    ordered the breakup of the company, and long before the appeals court
    overruled him.
    I bring all this up mainly to point back to the first item — the
    notion that the company was cleared of wrongdoing. This has become
    popular “wisdom,” and it’s incorrect. Every judge that has had to rule
    on this has agreed that Microsoft broke the law to maintain its
    Let’s at least remember that much. “
  • John Perry Barlow 2.0

    Reason: John Perry Barlow 2.0.
    “Weâve got two distinct strains of libertarianism, and the
    hippie-mystic strain is not engaging in politics, and the Ayn Rand
    strain is basically dismantling government in a way that is giving
    complete open field running to multinational corporatism.” 

    “I personally think intellectual property is an oxymoron. Physical
    objects have a completely different natural economy than intellectual
    goods. Itâs a tricky thing to try to own something that remains in your
    possession even after you give it to many others… Royalties are not
    how most writers or musicians make their living. Musicians by and large
    make a living with a relationship with an audience that is economically
    harnessed through performance and ticket sales.”

    Well worth reading.

    Link via Hack the Planet

    Microsoft Security Bulletins

    Microsoft released their monthly securty bulletins identifying yet another cross-site scripting error, this time with the beleagured Outlook Web Access (OWA) in Exchange 5.5. OWA has a long history of issues. I don’t think that exposing Exchange via an HTML interface is a good idea. SMTP and POP with authentication, SSL, passwords and perhaps VPNs offer a far more secure way for clients to access Exchange remotely. Better yet, find a secure mail server. for more details.

    The second email I got was a “re-release” of MS04-020 showing that more products are affected. If you are running INTERIX 2.2 (what’s that?), you’ll want to review the bulletin at

    Microsoft Releases Windows XP Service Pack 2 to Manufacturing

    Yes, WinXPSP2 RTM’d.

    Microsoft comes through with Windows Service Pack 2.
    “After some last-minute waxing and buffing, Microsoft finally sent its
    Windows XP Service Pack 2 to manufacturing early Friday. The product is
    expected to be available shortly through the Windows Updates feature in
    Windows XP, company officials said.” [InfoWorld: Top News]

    Garrett Fitzgerald’s Blog advices: “Getting your website ready for XP SP2.
    If your website uses scripting or ActiveX controls, your users may have
    trouble with it after they upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2.
    Microsoft recently published a guide to updating your site so that it works properly for SP2 users. With the release of SP2 widely reported as “imminent”, now would be a good time…”

    Three-paned pseudo-table layout with CSS

    A while ago, Laura took on the redesign of one of our sites, We thought we’d use a layout similar to the three-paned table layout of,
    but I suggested she try it in CSS rather than with tables, separating
    the style from the text and modernizing the page. Little did I know I
    was asking for the nearly-unobtainable “Holy Grail” of web layout,
    according to With the help of that site, and some great pointers from “Creating Liquid Layouts with Negative Margins”
    at A List Apart, and a lot of hard work on Laura’s part, she came up
    with a site design that looks consistently good in IE (our 94% test
    case), Mozilla (version 1.7 only, though), FireFox, Safari and Camino.
    Unfortunately, the site is not so good in Opera, which seems to refuse
    to load the background colors for the left and right panes.

    Following her lead, I’ve started working on the same type of makeover
    for the web site. It was only a few hours to get a similar
    layout working in FireFox, my preferred browser, but another few hours
    of tweaking to get the same look in IE, fiddling with the interplay of
    margins, borders and padding, which each browser seems to interpret a
    little differently. Of course, that layout then broke in FireFox.
    Lather, rinse, repeat. I’ve almost got it down now. Hope to post a new
    website early next week.

    Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes

    This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.