December 7, 2007
WD Service Stops Sharing of Audio and Video, If Used
Another little information bug is wending its way across the Internet, this time about restrictions in large Western Digital external drives in sharing music and video files. The complete list of restricted files is here. The reports make is sound as if there is something in the drive firmware that restricts copying these files if the drive is shared across the Internet. That apparently is not the case. Western Digital offers a service called WD Anywhere Access which allows users to access their files remotely, even when the PC is turned off. It's a "pay for" service. While individual users can access their own files, the same audio and video files will not show up as part of a public share due to "unverifiable media license authentication."
Ooooh, Big Brother is adding DRM to hard drives. In all honesty, no one has to use the sharing service, and WD even provides instructions and considerations of setting up a share using general networking technology (Answer ID 1531 in the WD Knowledge Base). The idea that hardware vendors load filtering into hardware is scary, but that's not what is going on here.
Start with the report in the New York Times (the story is mostly about Macrovision buying TV Guide), trace it back to BoingBoing, and then the vendor site. The comments in the BoingBoing story are hilarious and telling.
December 5, 2007
Archived Wireless Text Messages Turnd Over to Government
Did anyone know that text messages on wireless phones are archived by carriers? Not just time and date, but the complete messages. And that the government can get them with a minimum of fuss in criminal prosecutions? As with a lot of ephemeral communication hardly anyone thinks about these things. Read about it here.
Supreme Court Turns Down Perfect 10 Appeal
Perfect 10's appeal was denied by the Supreme Court on Monday. The company had sued credit card processors claiming that the payment options they provided to web sites abetted copyright infringement by processing charges for stolen images. The lower courts didn't have to think too hard to toss this case. It looks as if the Supreme Court didn't either. Ars Technica has the story.
Facebook Changes Beacon to Opt-In
Facebook is changing it's Beacon advertising system to an opt-in system, which it hopes will ameliorate some of the harsh criticism it's been getting over the program. Beacon tracks Facebook users on shopping sites and reports back to their friends what purchases they made. Less highlighted but nonetheless the subject of other reports is that the site tracks its users even when they are not logged in. Somehow, some Facebook users find this disturbing. After all, Facebook has all the demographic information on its members and can match that up with extensive web tracking. Advertisers love this kind of stuff but for the backlash it generates. The details about what's currently going on with this issue are in Wired and the New York Times. The comments on the Times article suggest that the apology and the opt-in system are less than they seem. It's almost as if Facebook won't let go and wants to spin its way past this. Some may find the Google-DoubleClick issues quaint in light of the way this is handled.
December 4, 2007
Second Gitmo SOP Manual Posted Online
Another Standard Operating Procedures manual covering Guantanamo's Camp Delta is on Wikileaks. The 2003 manual made it there earlier, and now the 2004 manual is there. The story is in Wired.
DOJ Says Damages In Thomas Case Acceptable
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief in the Jammie Thomas case urging that the amount of damages assessed is constitutional ($9,250 per song, totaling $222,000) and does not violate the Due Process clause even though the labels make around, oh, 70 cents per song if that. The DOJ also suggests that the Court need not consider the argument as it was waived.