Random Thoughts

Why extending copyright is bad

Looking back, I have mentioned DRM a few times, and how I don’t like it — it’s only there to let other people be able to control what we can do with stuff we buy for ourself. And to extort as much money from us as possible.

While the thought behind DRM may be well meant, all I’ve seen of it is misuse. One other thing that is good, but made bad, is the misuse of copyright. How long should the copyright period be? 20 years? 50 years? 50 year after the death of the creator? The age of Mickey Mouse + 50? Infinite?

The companies that owns copyrights seems to want to constantly extend the copyright period, both to protect their old work from being used (and appreciated) and to prevent others to create new work that may use bits and pieces of their copyrighted work, intentionally or not.

Now, the best stuff I’ve read about this problem with copyright, is an old short story by Spider Robinson, Melancoly Elephants. Best of all, it is now available on his web site, for free! I recommend you to go read it right away.

iTunes to drop DRM?

Well – I’m not taking anything for granted. I also remember having read that an Apple lawyer saw no reason to drop DRM, even if the record companies should stop demanding it (sorry, I don’t have the link anymore. But maybe I’ve mentioned it in an earlier post?)

Now hoewever, Steve Jobs has shared with us his thoughts about music, about DRM and Fairplay and why Apple don’t licence it to others. What I like most about what he writes is this:

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

I like that. He doesn’t say that Apple has plans for dropping DRM, but he does continue to say that DRM isn’t such a goood idea, as it doesn’t work anyway, and that there is a growing concern over DRM in European countries. He may very well have the Norwegian ombudsmann in mind, who says that the iPods being tied to iTunes for playing protected music is illegal. However, he does have a point when he urges us to put the pressure on the for big record companies instead — the majority of them (Universal, EMI, and 50% of Sony BMG) are European themselves. And since there may be chances that these companies will drop DRM, as many speculates, we may see that iTunes will be DRM-free. 🙂

Fun buying CDs again?

I’ve been refusing to buy any CD that contained any form for copy protection on them, partly because they’re inferiour products that may not be played on my equipment, and partly because I don’t want to pay for the privilege to be treated badly. The good news is, now it seems that the era of these broken CDs is over. I read it on Boing Boing that EMI is doing the only sensible thing and dropping their DRM scheme for CDs. Was EMI the last company to realise this was the only sensible thing to do? If so, it can be nice looking for new CDs again from now on, without worrying if they really are real CDs.

Just wonder if those DRM’ed albums are rereleased on real CDs — there are some nice ones I refused to buy…

On a related note, how long will DRM on compressed music last? WMA, AAC and so on — will the companies want to keep this practise going, or will they reach the conclusion that their market is actually limited by it? Some thinks that DRM will stay for a long time, others that it will go away, and yet some that yes, it’ll go away, but it will be replaced with something else.

I don’t know myself, and don’t have any particular opinion of wether it will stay or not – but I hope for the best. I have read a few articles about what other thinks, though, and from the couple of last months or so:

So, any idea what the future of DRM look like?

Rendered beautiful or accessed effectively?

I just stumbled upon a post about Operas PR-manager Eskil Sivertsen’s comments on Nokias S60 browser — where he basically agrees with the review in the Register. Not everyone agrees with him, of course, and think his words were harsh. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course, and our tastes vary, but one of the comments made me stop up and think a bit:

Concerning Opera mini – I really don’t like the way the browser changes the layout of full HTML pages to fit the viewing platform, as it means the designers lose control of how their pages look. I much prefer the S60 browser’s solution to viewing large pages on a small screen.

If I want pages optimized for a small screen I’ll use WAP. I personally believe that the responsibility of a proper page layout/viewing rests with the page designer and not the browser app.

My thoughts are spinning around this question: How important is the original layout, as the designer meant the site to be seen?

One point to consider here is the purpose of the design. Is it meant to make the site look pretty and inviting only? To enhance the readability of the text? To guide where you’re viewing to the most interesting links and pages on the site? Is the design important to the content, that the design itself provides part of the content? A second point is about the content itself: Is it meant to be read? Or just viewed, or what?

I think it will be safe to claim that for most sites, the point is for the content to be read. Maybe commented on and be discussed, but definitely read. In this case, how important is it that the design is preserved, in every case? It would be nice when it’s logical, but are the cases when it’s not that logical to preserve the original design?

Sites are usually designed to be viewed on a large screen, and the designs are based on this situation. Few sites are designed for smaller screens (or other media) even though there’s a lot of talk about accessing the web with mobile phones these days. What shall the browser on these phones do, if there are no stylesheets for them to tell how the design is supposed to be on small screens? After all — doesn’t this mean “sorry, no design for you”?

The phone browsers do handle it differently. Some pretend to have big screens, and zoom in on parts of it to make it possible to read. Other browsers reformat the whole thing and present a long, narrow page. (Are there more than Opera that does this?) Which of these approaces respect the designer’s wishes? Which are correct? And which are best?

The browsers that pretend to have big screens may be said to respect the designer — if the designer meant that all devices should behave like a big screen. However, if the designer meant “I don’t know what’s the best design for this device — present the content as you wish” then any rendering is OK. The correct way to render would be to follow the specified style sheet for small screens, if presents, and render without styles if not. (At least to my understanding — you may disagree.) The best way?

The best way would be to render the page so that the content is accessed effectively, i.e. easy to read, and that it’s quick and easy to navigate. If it’s hard to read what’s on the page, and navigation is complicated, then something’s wrong. It doesn’t harm that the browser is fast either, and have effective use of available memory.

So, which browser is best? You decide.

Steal This Film

Weird Al Yankovic may have written a song about filesharing (which you can download) but what about a whole film about the same topic? You can get that, too.

Steal This Film is a documentary about the peer-to-peer organisation and the filesharing movement. As they write about the documentary (part 1) on their website:

There have been a few documentaries by ‘old-media’ crews who don’t understand the net and see peer-to-peer organisation as a threat to their livelyhoods. They have no reason to represent the filesharing movement positively, and no capacity to represent it lucidly.

We wanted to make a film that would explore this huge popular movemet in a way that excited us, engaged us, and most importantly, focused on what we know to be the positive and optimistic vision that many filesharers and artists (they are often one) hva for the future of creativity.

The film is possible to download in several formats. I’ve done it now, and am going to burn it to DVD and watch it.

Free 4GB iPod Nano?

I got a little begging mail from a friend myself, to visit a site and fill in what it said, and we’d both get a free iPod Nano. Well – I thought I should bite this time and try, after all what did I have to lose?

Well – it turned out it was a bit more for me to do to achieve the prize: I have to refer five more people myself that will have to register and take up one offer themselves. How? Well – I could send them an email, or by instand messaging, or even post a link to my blog. As you suspect, I’m writing this entry to post the link – those of you who want to give it a shot and try to get a free iPod Nano yourself may want to try it.

Get a FREE iPod Nano! (Offer is for all countries, but it seems Americans — or should that be USers? 😉 — will have an easier time at the moment…)

I will update the post (or write in the comments) if it works. As long as I actually refer 5 people who go the line out, that is… (What is there to lose?)

Aliens prefer Firefox

I have it from respectable sources that the various crop circles are proof that aliens exist, because many of the geometrical patterns that are made are too complicated for humans to make in such a short time span as is used it many cases. Logically, it follows that aliens prefer Firefox.

They probably havent discovered Opera yet, or the Opera logo is too simple to make a crop circle of – who would it impress? 😉