Who benefits by making a behavior criminal when no crime is committed?

player piano by Elsie esq.

Latest leaked draft of secret copyright treaty: US trying to cram DRM rules down the world’s throats
[Via Boing Boing]

Michael Geist writes in with the latest news on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the secret, closed-door copyright treaty that will bring US-style copyright rules (and worse) to the whole world. Particularly disturbing is the growing support for “three-strikes” copyright rules that would disconnect whole families from the Internet if one member of the household was accused (without proof) of copyright infringement. The other big US agenda item is cramming pro-Digital Rights Management (DRM) rules down the world’s throats that go way beyond the current obligations under the UN’s WIPO Copyright Treaty. In the US version, breaking DRM is always illegal, even if you’re not committing any copyright violation — so breaking the DRM on your iPad to install software you bought from someone who hasn’t gone through the Apple approval process is illegal, even though the transaction involves no illicit copying.

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So, if I wanted to copy my DVDs over to my own hard drive so I can stream them to my TV and save a lot of floor space, this treaty would make that a crime, since the DRM on the DVDs has to be broken to accomplish this. Even making a backup copy of the DVD would now be illegal, even though no criminal activity worth government intrusion has take place.

And this is the US pushing this. Or rather US corporations controlling what our government proposes.

So they can shut down anyone’s access to the internet without due process? How much longer before SWAT teams use no knock warrants to prevent these ‘crimes’ from being committed?

What a ridiculous waste of effort to support the failing business models of companies that can not adapt to changing times. As I wrote about earlier with player piano copyrights, these sorts of copyright rules actually work against the ‘art’ that they are supposed to protect.

A lot of people are going to be hurt by this attempt to glean the last little bit of money from their customers.


iLife just in time for Christmas?

iLife ’11 Family Pack shows up on Amazon
[Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)]

A while ago, we reported on an iLife 2010 for Dummies book that showed up on Amazon France, complete with production cover. A day after our post, the book was pulled from the site. That day, an iWork ’10 book also showed up on Amazon Germany (and it’s still there). Many readers rightly pointed out that there is very little likelihood that Apple would call the next version of iLife and iWork “10” since the year is almost over. Plus, only a week later, there were rumors circulating that iLife ’11 was going to be released in time for back to school or at Apple’s September media event. So far, it has yet to materialize.

However, a sharp-eyed reader pointed out that an iLife ’11 Family Pack listing has appeared on Amazon.com. A Macworld reader found it a few weeks ago, and it appears it has been listed on Amazon since July 27th. The family pack’s price is US$99, and its shipping time is listed as “2 to 4 weeks.” The TUAW reader who tipped us off on it said she attempted to purchase it without problems and “Did not finalize the order, but was able to get right up to the final confirmation without an error.”

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Oh, please be true. And a new iWork would be nice also.

Sometimes scientists feel exactly the same way

Environmental Degradation Captured on Film — via the Rainbows Near the Earth’s Surface
[Via The Scholarly Kitchen]

Rainbows are much more common in near-ground sprinklers than they were 20 years ago. Or so asserts the infamous “Rainbow Lady.”

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Yes, it is easy to make fun of these two videos because they get all excited or out of joint about something that most of us understand – that water splits sunlight up into a spectrum of colors, if viewed form the right angle.

But the emotional response, either of puzzlement or incredible joy, are ones that every researcher has felt. It is why we try and understand the world around us. It is why we have developed a system to make sure our puzzlement gets answered and our joy can be spread.

So, I think both of these videos are really interesting, because they encapsulate the reasons why we have researchers trying to understand the world.

Isaac Asimov is reputed to have said “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I’ve found it!), but ‘That’s funny…”

Richard Feynman saw the wobble in a spinning plate in the Cornell cafeteria and had to figure out why. The joy he felt at solving the problem, not only using high powered math but also by using other approaches, simply because it is fun, also hits scientists all the time.

And then, the emotion felt when the things we are doing for fun actually have relevance for solving problems arising around us … well, the second video is a pretty nice simulation.

That joy is why we are so willing to put up with all the failures we must slog through to get to a resolution. But that moment of exaltation is well worth it.

Anyone whos says it is hopeless is a godforsaken quitter

The Quadruple Squeeze
[Via Hot Topic]

Required viewing: Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre talking at TEDGlobal 2010 about the “quadruple squeeze” we’re putting on the planet through overpopulation, climate change, ecosystem loss and the problem of surprises — tipping points in the system. Rockström was lead author on last year’s Nature paper on planetary boundaries and is an interesting and compelling presenter. Bottom line? We face a huge challenge, but there are ways we can fix the problem… [Hat-tip to Resilience Science]

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Fixing all the complex problems facing us will not be easy but it is doable. Anyone who says otherwise is simply a different kind of denialist.

It comes down to will. Do we want to fix these problems or let them fester while small groups game the system for their own advantage?

We got to the moon in about a decade. We did not solve the problems involved because people said it was too hard to accomplish. We had a plan and adapted to changing circumstances as needed.

Now we have fundamental problems that affect us here on Earth, that can radically alter how we will live our lives in the coming years. Now, all we hear is “It’s too hard” or “It’ll cost too much” or simply “No.”

JFK gave a speech at Rice University in 1962 about space – the complete speech is above. It is one of the best speeches given by any recent American President because it actually defines what Americans have always done – overcome tremendous difficulties to create things that have never been seen before on the planet, and to use them to help others.

And this speech could so easily be adapted for today. Simply put in words like climate change for space. It still brings tears to my eyes, as it should for anyone who wants to move forward rather than hold on to what is not working. [My bold]

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

[...]

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward–and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

[...]

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

[...]

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?[Still as relevant today as 48 years ago - Texas 34 Rice 17 this year]

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

We must be very different Americans today than were there 48 years ago. Too many leaders make a call to inaction. Today many, even if they recognize the problems, simply say there is nothing we can do. We also have many who want to wait and rest and look behind them, refusing to come up with any plan to move forward except to say “It’s too hard”, “It’ll cost to much” or “No.”

Resting, waiting or looking behind us is a path to decay and loss of relevance. Not to mention a world substantially different than the one we currently inhabit.

These problems will have to be dealt with eventually and no amount of resting, waiting or looking behind us will change that. Americans used to believe that difficult problems could be and had to be solved, no matter the cost.

Not so much anymore. There are many Americans trying to solve these problems and perhaps they may still succeed. But their success will be hampered every step of the way by powerful interests that want to rest, wait and look back.

Which side are you on – finding solutions or quitting?

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