Archive | June 20, 2006

Jon Udell gets takedown request from This American Life

On his blog, Jon reports on a disturbing idea: that a producer of copyright content could demand you take down links pointing to their content. This is not duplication (strictly speaking, the “copy” part of copyright), just a link in the form of an RSS feed. There's no easy answer here. WBEZ and This American Life want you to download their MP3s, but from their site where they can nag you with NPR pledges (have your sent in that check yet?) and a chance to buy a TAL T-shirt of coffee mug. Fair enough. “Deep linking” is a discredited concept that your license to use a site (embodied in their Terms of Service or Copyright notice) could limit your use of their site. Is this infringement on fair use, or a legitimate restriction for folks producing media?

I like and support This American Life and NPR. I also see Jon is providing them a service by publishing a notification mechanism that new content is available for download. Does Jon cross a line by including links to that content in an enclosure tag? I don't think so. While he's not actually copying the content, he's redirecting the original source from the WBEZ web site to the consumer's aggregator without them “benefitting” from the commercial advertising on the site. Are users “stealing” the content by failing to read the ads? Not. Are listeners benefitting from the downloaded enclosures? Yes. Is WBEZ losing revenue? Maybe.

What WBEZ should be doing is asking Jon to show them how to set up an RSS feed on their site, so that they can include their enclosures and add enticements to visit the sites (“Enter our contests! Win a T-shirt! Read about TAR history! Visit our archives!”) in the feed as well. WBEZ: Join the audiocasting revolution. It's the new radio. Add a plug to your audio to send you money, sure. Get yourself listed everywhere. Listeners time-shifting and place-shifting and device-shifting your show means more listeners. Don't cut yourself off from the audience.

Aggregation and linkage is the point of the web. Don't fight it.

Contents may have settled during production…

Scripting News points out “Jon Udell picks “user generated content” as the most offensive buzzword.” There are only two industries that refer to the their customers as “users” and we don't want to be emulating the other one.

Doc Searls has pointed out the oxymoron “consumer-generated content” as pretty dumb, too. Despite what Big Media wants you to think, generating sound, video and text makes you a producer, not a consumer. Doc has been on a tear lately about the terrible business model Big Media (and the Internet Provider – Telephone – Cable Oligopoly) is trying to shove down everyone's throat: Big Media produces, end-user-consumers feed from the trough, large pipes down, tiny upload capabilities in an unbalanced asymmetry. That's not the world, it's the world as Big Media wants it. That's not the internet, that's television, that's broadcast, that's last century.

Microsoft: Block Excel Attachments Messaging and Collaboration reports Microsoft Posts Excel 'Zero-Day' Flaw Workarounds. “Redmond's security response center is recommending that businesses block Excel spreadsheet attachments at the e-mail gateway to avoid targeted zero-day attacks.”

FoxPro developers recall that Microsoft Outlook security patches block attached Visual FoxPro programs because “they could contain malicious code” — provided the recipient downloads the code to disk, runs Visual FoxPro to compile the program file and then runs the resultant file. Outlook, however, will allow through Excel or Word documents containing malicious code with no objection.

People need to get over the binary view of “documents” versus “executables.” Web “pages” contain executable Javascript, ActiveX controls, Java and more. PDF files can run code – they are made out of Postscript, a programming language. HTML Help files include executable features. Screensavers are programs, not pictures. Some people like to send around “slideshows” of pictures, oftentimes a PPS (PowerPointShow) file that could run VBA scripts.

1. Don't open attachments from untrusted sources.

2. There are no trusted sources.

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