Must Read – Cory Doctorow on Illegal filesharing: A suicide note from the music industry

Use your wrists, Mr. Record Company Exec...

Cory Doctorow’s article in the Guardian.co.uk (it’s British, so the law doesn’t necessarily apply to the Americans in the crowd…) has an outrageously good look at how the record industry blew it  with their incredibly transparent and stupendously idiotic plan to stop music piracy.

This month’s announcement of a back-room deal between ISPs (internet service providers) and the big record companies to spy on suspected copyright infringers and reduce the quality of their internet connections is just the latest paragraph in the record industry’s long, self-pitying suicide note, and it’s left me wishing they’d just pull the trigger already and stop beating their chests and telling us all how unfair it all is.

Under the new scheme, the rule of law is replaced by a cosy inter-industry deal. Whereas before, anyone who wanted your ISP to spy on your internet connection would have had to show evidence to a judge and get a court order, now any joker who claims to be an aggrieved copyright holder can do so.

Really…the music industry couldn’t do a better job of vilifying themselves if they’d decided to start making dvds out of freshly clubbed seals.  Once again, they’re not only wrong-headed, they’re aggressively evil in a Bond-ian-villain sort of manner.

This is why I tend to run jam bands, jazz bands, anything but mainstream acts on the Friday Music Video; I simply cannot support the record companies.  I’d rather support the artists directly.  I buy direct from artist sites, or download live shows at Archive.org for my IPhone/IPod and I do the same as much as I can for my daughters.

If the record companies could envision a world in which we are something other than a completely captive audience, I may rethink things.  Cory offers these suggestions:

…when the record companies objected to the radio stations playing their discs without compensation or permission, the answer was a blanket licence for records played on air. It’s the tried-and-true answer to the problem of copyright-disrupting technology:

  • acknowledge that it’s going to happen;
  • find a place to collect a toll;
  • charge a fee that’s low enough to get buy-in from the majority;
  • ignore the penny-ante fee evaders;
  • sue the blistering crap out of the big-time fee-evaders.

The ideas not new.  It’s been around since filesharing first threatened to rob a record exec of the means to pay for his beemer.  The point is this, they’ve now gone so far as to have made themselves unsalvageable.  In ancient days, you had one opportunity to save your city when you came under siege – surrender before we have to attack.  Once the attacks begin, your city will surely be sacked, the buildings burned and the women ravished when the walls are breached.

Now we’re at the point where anything less than completely sacking the record companies won’t suffice.

A week of Iphone trouble and general nuisances

After careful consideration, I have decided my Iphone is not a smartphone, as much as it is actually an idiot savant phone.  While it does somethings incredibly well, there are others it does marginally, and some it flat out doesn’t do at all.

It looks like the release next month of the 3g Iphone will not completely resolve my meager list of needs for the Iphone, so I’d say this is probably really the beta release, whereas v1Iphone would be more properly regarded as an alpha release.  After all, it’s hard to consider a mobile phone today without gps built in as a truly functional phone.

The announcement of the new v2 3g Iphone, which was covered ad nauseum last week in virtually every media form imaginable, even print, gives us a view into a product that Apple feels is already fairly mature.  There are no major updates, save the actual 3g network (remember, most of us, me included, won’t have access to one) and the gps (again, how the heck did they not have that at first launch?).

Stuff that’s still missing:

  • Real GPS Street by Street apps (not allowed per SDK user agreement).
  • Cut and Paste – uh, hello, Apple?
  • Video via the camera
  • An ear phone plug that fits a standard Ipod head jack, so I can plug it into the stereo (Hint: do that in airline mode so you don’t broadcast your phone calls to the entire party).
  • Uh, hello, how about voice recording.  I like to make a note to myself once in a while and I haven’t found it.

All in all the experience is good, I really can’t imagine not having my Iphone, in that not so nice way a a junkie can’t imagine not having junk.  Still the thing has already been replaced once in 3 months due to a bad battery, and I’ve got to say, if the battery life doesn’t dramatically improve in the new phone, they’ve got an issue.  Currently, owning an Iphone means pretty much you’ll be looking for an outlet every couple of hours.

I may actually upgrade to the new one to get access to my Exchange server at work though…

There may be method to the Apple Madness

I haven’t tried it yet, but there are reports from many sectors that Apple is offering free wireless access for Iphone users at Starbucks locations. Very strange when you consider that we have Edge network access and generally don’t need a regular wireless network.

Here’s the method though: there is a minor hack that will allow PC or Mac users to access for free: all they have to do is fire up Safari and then going to Edit->Advanced checking off “Show Develop Menu” then restarting the browser and you’ll see a new menu called develop at the top of the browser.  Then go to Develop->User Agent and select “Mobile Safari – Iphone.”

So now we understand why Apple Update for the PC pushed Safari a couple weeks ago.  They’re making a play to get access to the PC market, and they’ve come up with an interesting way to get us to do it.  They’re not asking us to try it, they’re giving us a reason to try it.

There are no coincidences…

Adobe opens FLV and SWF formats

This is interesting, after so many years, Adobe has decided to open the FLV and SWF formats, which means that we’ll be able to do more interesting things with them now as developers. For those who may not pay attention, pretty much any animation you see on the web is in SWF format, and FLV is what is used almost universally for web-based video players, such as you see with YouTube.

Adobe will be removing the licensing restrictions on all platforms, including television, mobil devices, etc. for these formats as a part of the Open Screen Project.

The Open Screen Project is working to enable a consistent runtime environment – taking advantage of Adobe® Flash® Player and, in the future, Adobe AIR™ — that will remove barriers for developers and designers as they publish content and applications across desktops and consumer devices, including phones, mobile internet devices (MIDs), and set top boxes. The Open Screen Project will address potential technology fragmentation by allowing the runtime technology to be updated seamlessly over the air on mobile devices. The consistent runtime environment will provide optimal performance across a variety of operating systems and devices, and ultimately provide the best experience to consumers.

Specifically, this work will include:

  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash® Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free
What’s it mean and why’s it important?
Recently there’s been a move by Microsoft with the Silverlight product to get access into this space. This move will solidify Adobe’s position and make it much harder for Silverlight to gain traction.
Additionally, this will most likely mean that we’ll soon see support in the Iphone for SWF, more commonly known as flash. That will mean that in the future Iphone users won’t see vast empty areas on pages where flash objects should be. This was missing from the Iphone previously due to licensing costs.