Morozov Long Read

The Meme Hustler; Tim O’Reilly’s Crazy Talk by Evgeny Morozov at The Baffler – a little history of “open source”, Web 2.0 and Government 2.0, and a lot of criticism of O’Reilly’s web media/meme empire by noted contrarian and critic of cyber-utopianism Morozov.

More Morozov: At Slate, Farhad Manjoo and Morozov discuss Morozov’s latest book (To Save Everything, Click Here) in a series of written entries and replies.

Can a digital music file, lawfully made and purchased, be resold by its owner under the first sale doctrine?

In a decision this past weekend, a U.S. District Court answers: no. More on the decision, and a link to the court’s opinion, at Wired.

Also: Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided that the online streaming of over-the-air television broadcasts by the startup, Aereo, is permitted. More on the decision, which is bound to be appealed, at ArsTechnica.

Cyber Law + Tech: March 27, 2013

How much of an article or news report can an aggregator or clipping service copy under fair use? There’s no precise answer, but under the recent Meltwater ruling from a federal district court in the Southern District of New York, the answer in some cases may be “not much”. At AP wins big: Why a Court Said Clipping Content is Not Fair Use. The defendant Meltwater monitored the internett and ran a clipping service for its clients, sending newsletter alerts to its clients about articles in which they appeared. Meltwater included the relevant headline, lede and sentences in which keywords relevant to the client appeared. Key to the court’s decision was that Meltwater, by copying the headlines and ledes acted as a substitute to the underlying articles, rather than driving readers to the original article as a search engine might. As noted by PaidContent: “Cote’s rejection of Meltwater’s search engine argument was based in part on the ‘click-through’ rate of its stories. Whereas Google News users clicked through to 56 percent of excerpted stories, the equivalent rate for Meltwater was 0.08 percent …” The impact of the ruling outside the federal courts Second Circuit is unclear, but the result should be troubling for companies that scrape significant amounts of content from other sites in reliance on “fair use”.

The EFF’s critical take on the decision. The court’s decision (pdf).

FBI 2013 priority: obtaining new powers to surveil internet and cloud services in real time (Slate).

At ArsTechnica, news of new data transmission research: Fiber cables made of air move data at 99.7 percent the speed of light

TechDirt: Court Tosses Lawsuit That Said MMS Was An Illegal File Sharing Network”

The makers of my favorite iOS weather app, Dark Sky, have just released a new weather service: Forecast, which is explained in the developers’ release announcement here and available at The beauty of Dark Sky has been its ability provide practical weather notifications, e.g., in thirty minutes it will rain for twenty minutes . The new service, at a glance, looks equally interesting.


ArsTechnica: Rather Than Fix The CFAA, House Judiciary Committee Planning To Make It Worse

ArsTechnica: Rather Than Fix The CFAA, House Judiciary Committee Planning To Make It Worse


Toronto Harbour and Lake Ontario: the view from my window this morning.

photo © 2013 j.r.mchale


Google’s Android platform is powered by a novel technology that transcends conventional hardware and software. And just as Android hardware and software has looked to Apple for inspiration, this compelling new “flexibly adaptive logic” is also related to something that first originated within Apple. Flexibly adaptive logic, or “Flawgic,” allows the Android platform to terminate any sort of criticism before it can affect how the system performs. Flawgic is neither hardware nor software; it’s installed directly into public mindshare via a virus spread by talking heads.
A buzzworthy, anti-Android editorial (screed) at AppleInsider actually written by Daniel Eran Dilger, but which reads as if it is from Steve Jobs, writing from beyond the grave. Also a nice encapsulation of current anti-Android sentiment, as Apple begins to fight back from its recent spate of bad press.

What Google has actually done is create a powerful infrastructure. The shape of that infrastructure influences everything that goes online. And it influences the allocation of mental resources of everyone who interacts with the online world. But there isn’t much to the real human world that isn’t shaped by the mental activity of the people in it! That’s a lot of power to put in the hands of a company that now seems interested, mostly, in identifying core mass-market services it can use to maximise its return on investment. Now in the short run, that may mostly be a problem for all of us … But in the long run that’s a problem for Google. Because we tend not to entrust this sort of critical public infrastructure to the private sector. Network externalities are all fine and good to ignore so long as they mainly apply to the sharing of news and pics from a weekend trip with college friends. Once they concern large swathes of economic output and the cognitive activity of millions of people, it is difficult to keep the government out.
From The Economist: “Google’s Google Problem”.

I think that’s about right – given that Google already has a giant target on its back vis-a-vis U.S. and EU regulators, it certainly seems short-sighted to annoy large swaths of journalists, influencers and the like with the shutdown of Google Reader.

As a power RSS/Google Reader user, I’m disappointed in the shutdown, but as long as the sync/data backend gets replicated, I will be fine using other RSS services: Mr. Reader (iPad), Reeder (OS X), Feedly (Adroid and Firefox), and perhapds recently announced new and updated services: Digg’s upcoming RSS Reader and a revamped NetNewsWire.

The mobile market, everyone agrees, is the technology industry’s future. What’s not so clear is which company is best positioned to thrive in that future. For smartphones in particular, the traditional metrics are confusing … So who’s winning? When pondering this, I find myself thinking about dependencies. What is each company doing for itself, and in what ways does each company rely on others? I think this balance, much more than profits or market share, is what will determine long-term success.
John Siracusa at Read the whole thing for his assessment of how the major players (Google, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft) stack up on this “dependency” metric.

Interesting Reads: March 20, 2013

At FastCompany: Box’s 65-Year-Old Android Engineer Gives Your Startup Some Unsentimental Advice

At The Walrus: BlackBerry’s Boom: How the Canadian Smartphone Became a Nigerian Status Symbol by Brianna Goldberg. Apparently, there is even a popular Nollywood film series ‘BlackBerry Babes’. According to Goldberg: “While North American business stories have been reporting on RIM’s spectacular decline, Africa has fallen hard for the Waterloo, Ontario, tech giant. RIM, now known simply as BlackBerry, is Africa’s number one smart phone vendor, and it is now the preferred brand in both South Africa and Nigeria, two cultural leaders for the continent. Second only to Asia’s mobile market, Africans already use 735 million cellphones.” Interesting read, but don’t be fooled: BlackBerry 10 predicted to hold less than 5% market share through 2016

Wired explains yesterday’s Supreme Court decision clarifying that the “first sale” doctrine of federal copyright law applies to foreign-purchase works imported into the United States: Supreme Court Boosts Right to Resell Copyrighted Goods. The Supreme Court’s opinion (pdf)

Interesting Reads: March 19, 2013

“How the America Invents Act will Change Patenting Forever.” Wired explains the switch from “first to invent” to “first to file” patenting, an important development for entrepreneurs and startups.

But is this change in the patent system, which took effect on March 16, 2013, a good idea? Law professor Richard Epstein argues no: “Just because the [America Invents Act] is a new piece of legislation does not mean that it is a good or useful piece of legislation. By the time the law is revealed to be the mess that it is, it will become so embedded in the legal order that it will be difficult to uproot it. Be prepared, therefore, to witness yet a further decline in the overall efficiency of the United States patent system, promoted by those whose stated intention was the opposite.” The End of Innovation? A new and unnecessary law restructures the U.S. patent system for the worse

Also at Wired: “Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them.” This decision of a federal judge in California to limit secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient will be appealed by the government, and the dispute will likely eventually wind its way up to the Supreme Court. As explained by Kim Zetter in Wired: “NSLs are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more. NSLs are a powerful tool because they do not require court approval, and they come with a built-in gag order, preventing recipients from disclosing to anyone that they have even received an NSL.”

“Thirty-Five Arguments Against Google Glass” at Reluctant Habits. A contrarian view on the Google Glass project. Or is that a luddite view?

On the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Gideon v. Wainwright decision, which held that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees to every criminal defendant in a felony trial the right to a lawyer. But is that right really effective today? Two pieces arguing that the answer to that question is “not so much”:

“How Americans Lost the Right to Counsel, 50 Years After ‘Gideon’” by Andrew Cohen writing in The Atlantic.

“Simon Waxman on ‘Chasing Gideon’; Pleading Out: America’s Broken Public Defense System” in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

The Supreme Court Decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

Attackers generally benefit from new security technologies before defenders do … They have a first-mover advantage. They’re more nimble and adaptable than defensive institutions … They can evolve faster. And entropy is on their side — it’s easier to destroy something than it is to prevent, defend against, or recover from that destruction. For the most part, though, society still wins. The bad guys simply can’t do enough damage to destroy the underlying social system. The question for us is: can society still maintain security as technology becomes more advanced?

I don’t think it can.
Bruce Schneier writing at Wired: Our Security Models Will Never Work — No Matter What We Do on (i) the virtual certainty over time of successful large scale/mass casualty terrorist attacks due to weapons of mass destruction becoming cheaper and easier to produce, and (ii) creating resilient systems as an alternative to perpetually ratcheting up government surveillance and security. Read the whole thing.

Security expert (and self-described curmudgeon) Schneier’s monthly Crypto-Gram email newsletter is a great monthly read and personal favorite.

FTC Issues Reports on Digital Advertising and on Mobile Payments

“.Com Disclosure: How to Make Effective Disclosure in Digital Advertising” has been issued by the Federal Trade Commission. This March 2013 FTC report (pdf) updates and modifies the FTC’s now long-in-the-tooth May 2000 report on the same topic, and includes specific guidance on advertising via tweets (including sponsored tweets), as well as guidance, including examples, on advertising on space-constrained screens such as smartphones and tablets.

More on the Digital Advertising Report at Mashable.

The FTC this month also issued a report on its recent workshop on mobile payments: “Paper, Plastic … or Mobile?” (pdf). Anyone wondering why mobile payment mechanisms are taking so long to develop need only take a quick glance at the FTC Report. Given the multiplicity of various players (private companies – big and small, established players and startups – and state and federal regulatory bodies), and issues involved, including data security, privacy, and billing dispute resolution, it’s no wonder quick and easy mobile payment schemes are just beginning to become useful and gain traction.

More on the Mobile Payments Report at the InfoLawGroup.

Innovation or Exploitation? The Limits of Computer Trespass Law” A presentation by Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS) on February 19, 2013, featuring Ed Felten (Princeton), Jennifer Granick (Stanford), Brewster Kahle (Internet Archive), Jonathan Mayer (Stanford), Alex Stamos (Artemis Internet), and Dan Auerbach (EFF): 1 hour and 51 minutes.


photo © 2012 j.r.mchale