April 13, 2007
April 12, 2007
COPA Down, Senate Tries Again
Senators Pryor (D-Arkansas) and Baucus (D-Montana) are proposing legislation that would require adding a tag to web sites that would identify pages as being harmful to minors. The tag is a leftover proposal from the Clinton administration that would give web filters and browsers an easy identified to block harmful material, whatever that is. The proposed act does define "harmful material:"
Material that is harmful to minors,--The term "material that is harmful to minors" means any communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other matter of any kind that is obscene, or that a reasonable person would find--
(A) taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or designed to pander to, the prurient interest;
(B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a manner patently offensive with respect to minors--
(i) an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual content;
(ii) an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual act; or
(iii) a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast; and
(C) taking the material as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
If similar language conceptually did not work to save COPA when a federal judge finally issued a permanent injunction against that act, this one is going to have a lot of Constitutional problems if it ever passes. The legislation purports to cover all of the Internet as did COPA. Despite this, no one believes such an act would have extra-territorial application. It won't stop foreign sites distributing pornographic materials from complying and could conceivably drive domestic adult material producers overseas. Or they could add the tag and still make boatloads of money.
Then there is the sticky issue of materials that qualify for the tag as a matter of judgment: the online literary materials with adult themes that are appropriate for young adults; sex education material; recognized artistic efforts (Mapplethorpe anyone?); or even web video sites that share network television clips that some perceive to be rife with gross sexuality (Fox, anyone?). There is no safe harbor for large publishing organizations that have adult-oriented material in their mix.
My prediction if Cyber Safety for Kinds Act of 2007 passes: five years or more of litigation and an injunction against enforcement.
Windows XP OEM sales to end by January 2008 despite customer demand. Apple Leopard delayed to October so the iPhone can meet its ship date in June. Vista finally cracked by Pirates? Microsoft seems to think so, at least for now.
April 10, 2007
AACS Authority Revokes Compromised DVD Keys
The group that created the AACS copy protection system has revoked the keys that were recently compromised, which allowed Hi Def content to be compromised. Mandatory software player updates are on the way for PC based players. Micahel Ayers, chairman of the AACS Licensing Administrator said that he fully expects there will be future attempts to break the system. You've got that right, Michael. Let the games begin.
New Microsoft Patches Affect Vista
It's patch Tuesday and another patch (critical) is issued for Vista. This one affects the Windows Client/Server Run-time Subsystem. More details are at the ZDNET Zero Day Blog. XP and other versions of Windows are also affected.
April 9, 2007
Principal Sues Students Over Fake MySpace Pages
Eric W, Trosch is a high school principal in Hermitage, PA. Four former students put up fake MySpace pages in his name that listed him as having very un-principal like habits with pot, beer, and students. He sued claiming libel. The students say it's parody. One wrinkle in the case is the discipline for one of the students which got him suspended and placed in an alternative learning situation. The student sued, unsuccessfully to this point, but that litigation lives. Thin-skinned authority figure or students crossing the line? It's hard to tell from the press reports.