December 2005

Earlier this month I posted Part 1 of “What is region coding?”, which described the technology, commercial rationale, and economic effects of this system. This posting is Part 2, and considers the legal implications of region coding, with a focus on developments in the United States and Australia. (more…)

Matt Rimmer has a nice round-up of the year’s IT and IP stories at CCH (registration may be required). It has the usual suspects (Grokster, Sony v Stevens, the Sony rootkit) and also a nice summary of a French decision (Stéphane P and Association UFC v Universal Pictures Video France — Court d’Appeal de Paris) about DRM that prevents DVDs being copied to VHS tapes for private use.

The New York Times is reporting that Elliott Spizer’s office has served subpoenas on Universal Music, Sony, EMI and Warner Music as part of an investigation into whether the “four record companies that dominate the industry have violated antitrust laws in the pricing of songs that are sold by Internet music services”. (more…)

The Los Angeles Times has a short editorial on patent proliferation [registration probably required], which notes that government researchers in New Delhi are accumulating a database of items “that are common knowledge in that country, including yoga positions and traditional Indian medical practices”. (more…)

Pretty cool: the inventor of the web finally has his own blog. The first post contains this fascinating snippet:

“The first browser was actually a browser/editor, which allowed one to edit any page, and save it back to the web if one had access rights.”

In other words, that web was a wiki. (You can see a screenshot of it.)

There are a few stories about the record industry’s recent moves against sites hosting song lyrics. Just on a week ago, CIO Today magazine has an article entitled Online Music Wars Take New Turn, which cites MPA president Lauren Keiser as saying in a BBC interview that his goal is not just to shut down the sites and levy fines, but also to get authorities to “throw in some jail time,” which he believes will make the group’s campaign “a little more effective.” (more…)

A number of news wires are reporting that two men face criminal charges for Xbox tampering (see also The real kicker appears to be that they sold pirated games illegally preloaded onto the systems; according to the Yahoo story:

They charged from $225 to more than $500 for the modifications, depending on the extent of the modifications and the number of games preloaded onto the hard drive.


A number of the more influential media have recent articles on the NTP vs RIM BlackBerry saga. The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker have more or less pro-RIM stories, while The Economist has a somewhat pro-NTP story.

There’s a fair bit more to this story than is usually reported. Leaving aside the two perennials (the appropriateness of allowing patent claims for independent invention that did not actually copy the patentee’s method, but independently recreated it; and the appropriateness of ‘patent troll’ tactics — which may really be an argument about the standard for laches or estoppel against a patentee) there are two meatier issues. (more…)

This edition of “What is…?” describes the regional coding systems used by the entertainment industry, with a particular emphasis on DVDs. This article will explain the technology behind region coding, describe how the system is enforced, and speculate on the commercial reasons for the system. It will then consider the economic effects of region coding and its possible legal implications, including a discussion of recent litigation in which region coding has been at issue.

This posting contains Part 1, which provides an introduction to how region coding works from both technological and legal perspectives, as well as the commercial justifications for region coding and its possible economic effects. Part 2 considers the legal issues raised by region coding, in the context of both competition/antitrust law as well as the anti-circumvention provisions that have been adopted as part of copyright law in both Australia and the United States. (more…)

I found this while seeing if I could find stats about the results of Harvey Danger’s experiment in allowing their latest album to be downloaded for free (apologies for those who find it monotonous, as I’ve posted about it twice already in the last couple of months, but I find it a great way to try to find hard data behind all the press spin about music and the net). (more…)

Following a previous posting on downloadable TV episodes, the New York Times is reporting that NBC is getting in on the act of selling TV Shows for viewing on iPods. (more…)

Two short stories that illustrate two of my pet theories about the net: MMORPG economies and RSS. The first, in the New York Times reports on Chinese ‘gold farmers’ — people who sit and play MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) all day, to build up virtual gold which they then sell for real money to time-poor players. (more…)

I previously posted about how Harvey Danger released their new album for free on P2P. Well, I have finally had time to listen to it, and I really like it. Enough, in fact, that I’m going to go and purchase the CD to support them in their decision, in the hope they (and others) will do it in future. (more…)

The Australian is reporting that lawyers for MIPI will seek an order from the Federal Court to shut down the Kazaa network, because Sharman has failed to implement keyword filtering that it was required to introduce. (more…)

The New York Times has has two interesting stories I haven’t been able to post due to pressure of work.

The first is Roche Tells Indonesia That It Can Produce Tamiflu Without a License. Apparently, Roche does not have a patent in Indonesia for the drug; I wonder why? This forecloses the possibility Kim previously noted, of the country compulsorily licensing the patent in the event of a bird flu outbreak, as is its right under international IP law.

The second is a little pure geekiness,
Writing the Fastest Code, by Hand, for Fun: A Human Computer Keeps Speeding Up Chips. If ever a person was aptly named for his occupation, it might be Mr Goto [if you don’t get the nerd joke, perhaps see here]. Mr Goto handwrites optimisation code that speeds up supercomputers, and is currently used by 4 of the world’s fastest 11 supercomputers. Not only that, but his code beats the machine-generated code of his main competitor. Kind of neat, for something started as a hobby about a decade ago. His website is here.

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