November 4, 2005
I had put up this link but not yet written
the explanation when I got a message from Joanne.
Subject: You're going to LOVE this one
Some bozo has PATENTED a story line idea.
I really think patents and copyrights have gotten
entirely out of sane boundaries.
And it's all true.
I'm for bed this being Thursday night after Midnight. I am still trying
to get my head around this new Amazon sales pitch, and also to understand
just what Microsoft Live is really about. Enlightenment appreciated.
It's column time and I have to do stories on both Microsoft Live and the
Amazon/Google copyright and electronic publishing spree. I'll be working on
this all weekend.
But there is some good news:
Subject: Eminent domain victory
Maybe congress is good for something after all. They
can't make it illegal, so they cut the funding when businesses take
advantage of the courts to harm individuals. A big-govt solution to be sure
and a clear sign that money is power regardless of what political theory you
subscribe to, but at least this time the power is being weilded to protect
I am in agreement with the Court decision that leaves such matters to the
states; but I very much agree that the Federal Government ought not
encourage the states to take property to facilitate planning schemes. I am
also much in favor of state constitutional amendments to prohibit such
takings. This isn't so much a big government solution as a small step toward
sanity. Most of those government urban renewal programs ought to be
abolished to begin with.
I find that the blogosphere is nowhere near as useful as everyone seems
to think. Searching for an original source -- say Nick Shulz's comment on
Patsy Schroeder's blast about Google -- gets you either no hits at all in
Google, or in MSN search a whole bunch of aggregate web sites that quoted
Schulz and added comments ranging from interesting to nonsensical to inane,
most of them rife with needless obscenities. If that's the blog world I
don't need much of it.
http://www.boingboing.net/2005/11/03/pat_schroeders_antig.html I find
Corey Doctorow saying
but there's no reference to the Forbes article, and trying both Google
and MSN search have been futile, directing me to other blogs saying more or
less what Doctorow said but putting their own names or spin or rewrite to
it. After a while I got both discouraged and bored.
Perhaps it is enough for many that Doctorow tells us that Shulz
masterfully deconstructs Schroeder, and thus we do not need to see the
actual deconstruction; that appears to be what passes for scholarship in
some groups. And, depending on the source, I suppose I might sometimes
accept that a person has been defeated in a debate without hearing the
debate; but in general, I would like at least the possibility of seeing that
As to the Google plan to put everything on line and make it available at
the cost of seeing a few advertisements, the fact that people as far apart
on the political scene as Pat Schroeder and Bob Barr can agree on something
should be informative, even if it is merely crazy-talk subject to masterful
deconstruction. You can find that crazy talk here:
Here is some of it:
Not only is Google trying to rewrite copyright
law, it is also crushing creativity. If publishers and authors have to spend
all their time policing Google for works they have already written, it is
hard to create more. Our laws say if you wish to copy someone's work, you
must get their permission. Google wants to trash that.
Google's position essentially amounts to a license to steal, so long as
it returns the loot upon a formal request by their victims. This is
precisely why Google's argument has no basis in U.S. intellectual property
law or jurisprudence. Just because Google is huge, it should not be allowed
to change the law.
Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt has argued the "fair use"
provision in copyright law allows Google to scan copyrighted books and put
them on their Web site without seeking permission. He compares this to
someone at home taping a television show and watching it later. Taped TV
show are watched in millions of households every night and is quite legal;
rebroadcasting that show to make a buck is not.
I would show you the masterful deconstruction, but so far I have been unable
to find it. Meanwhile, what Schroeder is saying doesn't seem crazy to me, or
to Karen Anderson who has to live on her late husband's work and hasn't the
resources to keep searching for pirate copies. Perhaps we're just naive
about the real future, or don't understand modern sanity.
Thanks to Monty Munro I have found Mr. Shulz's Forbes essay.
To view it you must have patience: when I went there almost a full minute
of Scotch Whiskey ads filled my screen, and then were replaced by some more
ads; eventually there was a tiny button that said "Click to skip ads" and
there was the essay. I am not certain I understand what a "deconstruction"
is, and if this is what Doctorow calls "masterful" I fear his reading is
within a very limited scope; but then I didn't think Schroeder and Barr were
doing "crazy-talk" either. Shulz says that Google doesn't intend to change
the copyright laws or make entire books available, and of course the example
of a "snippet" that he gives is well within the "fair use" that the authors
associations agreed to in the copyright laws. Again I will be dealing with
much of this in the column, so I shan't exhaust myself here. Unlike
Doctorow, Shulz doesn't feel he has to resort to simple name calling and
personal denigrations in order to argue against the position Schroeder and
most author associations have taken (I guess we'll all crazy?). Instead he
says, first, that Google can't possibly intend to do what Schroeder thinks
they are trying to do, and second,
But here we are
faced with another way in which technology forces us--whether we’d like to
or not--to revisit and refine our laws protecting creators and innovators.
When notions of “fair use” first evolved, they did so before anyone would
have had the ability or the incentive to make a copy of every book ever
published. Fair use in this way never entered the picture.
But data storage and search technologies now make
such a project a practical possibility. So these technological developments
force us to reevaluate notions of fair use.
We already permit such uses of snippets for the
development of book reviews. Google’s proposed technology is an extension of
that. It permits much wider dissemination of relevant snippets of books--in
doing so it will whet the appetite of a reading audience that is now global
in scale. Authors and publishers stand to benefit greatly.
In other words, his masterful deconstruction consists of telling authors
"you're wrong, and you're too dumb to see that this will make you a lot of
money." Now perhaps this is correct, but perhaps it's not. And note
that although Shulz doesn't say it, Google's proposed technology permits
much wider dissemination of a hell of a lot more than "relevant snippets";
it permits the widespread dissemination of the whole damned book. And
libraries are already "lending" electronic copies without any DRM or copy
protection whatever -- and getting government subsidies and tax breaks to do
It may well be that Doctorow and his crowd are right, and information
needs to be free, and the only way authors will make any money is either
through the "public radio" subscription process as I do -- if you don't pay
for this place click here -- or through public
performances as Mark Twain and Dickens had to do because of defective
copyright laws. And perhaps that is all to the good. But surely those of us
who wonder about that are not demented, and this is not all "crazy-talk."
I have been spending far too much time verifying this incredible story,
but it is all true.
I just sent the following letter to all my subscribers:
This is a Chaos Manor Warning. I would be shouting if I were not
concerned that it would trigger your spam filters.
You may or may not be familiar with the Sony Music CD Root Kit problem.
Let me begin with the warning: do not buy or install any Sony Music CD on
your PC. The records play just fine on other systems. There's no problem
with Mac or Linux or with self contained music players.
But if you try to play that record on your CD, it will tell you that you
must install the Sony CD player codec (you can't play the record through
Microsoft Media Player or any other stuff you have installed on your
DO NOT INSTALL THAT SOFTWARE. If you do you may never be able to get it
off there short of scrubbing your system down to bare iron, reformatting,
and reinstalling everything. I wish I were spoofing you, but I am not. This
is a serious warning.
Moreover, if you have given a Sony Music CD to anyone as a gift, and they
have tried to play that music on their PC (not Mac, not a standalone player,
not Linux, but Windows PC) then their systems are infected, and it is
exceedingly difficult -- exceedingly difficult -- to remove that infection
in a way that doesn't blue screen of death the PC.
MY ADVICE IS NOT TO BUY ANY SONY MUSIC CD.
I have heard nothing about Sony movie DVD's having any such infection,
but it's possible. So far all my Sony DVD's have played with Power DVD and I
have not been asked or required to install any special Sony software to play
a Sony movie DVD; if I am asked to do so I will refuse, and so should you.
Understand that the Root Kit on the Sony Music CD is a deliberate
installation by Sony as part of a Digital Rights Management scheme. They
will now, if you jump through enough hoops, send you a patch that will make
their scheme visible -- like all root kits, their original installation so
infects your operating system as to hide in a directory your operating
system literally cannot see or access -- but it still does not remove it.
I'll have more on removal in the column and at another time this being
column time. I will also have a
DO NOT BUY SONY MUSIC CD
warning in my Christmas Shopping List in the column.
This is a serious infection: the scheme has actually been used by third
parties to hide other malware on systems that have the Sony root kit
installed, and others have used the Sony root kit to hide cheat software for
World of Warcraft. Even if you think you know what you are doing, you should
not fool around with this stuff. It's dangerous, it's very difficult to
remove, and there is a very real risk that you will have to reformat your
disk and reinstall your OS and everything else.
For more information see:
The last reference is to the Sysinternals page where an incredulous Mark
Russinovich relates how he found the root kit on his system: the root kit
has been out for months, and this is the first indication of it's existence.
Sony did a splendid job of stealthing this.
I will have more in the column and on the web page. If you have bought
and installed a Sony Music CD on your PC, *you need more help than I can
give you*. Start with the Sysinternals page, and *proceed with extreme
And the best of British Luck to you.
And an addendum: The system "Phones Home". See
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